What is TQM? Definition, Objectives, Principle, Applications

What is Total Quality Management (TQM)?

TQM stands for Total Quality Management. It is a management philosophy that aims to achieve continuous improvement in quality and productivity by involving all employees in an organization. The goal of TQM is to satisfy the needs and expectations of customers by delivering high-quality products or services at the lowest possible cost.

In 1957, Dr. A. V. Feigenbaum came out with the concept of TQM. He advocated that quality should not be confined to production alone, rather it should start at the planning and designing level. American management consultants, such as W. Edwards Deming and Joseph Juran, contributed to the field of quality to a large extent.

TQM Definition

According to Sashkin and Kiser, TQM is, “creating an organizational culture committed to the continuous improvement of skills, teamwork, processes, product and service quality, and customer satisfaction.”

ISO defined TQM as the “Management approach of an organization centered on quality based on the participation of all its members and aiming at long-term success through satisfaction and benefits to all members of the organization and the Society.”

TQM is rather a proactive approach used by an organization to satisfy the needs and demands of customers.

American Society for Quality (ASQ): “TQM is a management philosophy that seeks to integrate all organizational functions (marketing, finance, design, engineering, and production, customer service, etc.) to focus on meeting customer needs and organizational objectives.”

Juran and Gryna: “TQM is a structured system for meeting and exceeding customer needs and expectations by creating organizational excellence in every part of the company.”

Aspects of Total Quality Management

Meeting Customer Requirements

Produce standard quality goods and services to meet the needs of customers.

Continuous Improvement

Continuous modification in product quality and product standards.

Employee Involvement

Encourage employees at every level to participate in quality management.

TQM is applied to every aspect of an organization, its functions, products and services, customer satisfaction and eventually resulting in the maximization of products. TQM calls for employee involvement in quality management.

Factors while Implementing TQM in Organization

Total Commitment of Employees

All employees working at different levels in quality management must be committed to quality.


The organization must impart training to the employees working at both managerial and non-managerial levels to implement TQM.

Clear Goals

The management must set clear, measurable, and realistic goals related to TQM. To implement these goals, the company must define action plans and measure its performance from time to time.

Customer Oriented

Organizations set the basic goal of TQM as customer satisfaction. Organizations must make TQM processes both customer-driven and customer-focused.

Continuous Improvement

TQM must be an ongoing process since the requirements and expectations of customers are ever-changing.

Objectives of Total Quality Management

TQM was initiated in the early 50s and has become part of manufacturing and service around 1985. The main objective of TQM is to increase customer satisfaction.

Some of the other objectives of TQM include:

  • Improve product quality, design, and service
  • Improve production flow
  • Enhance employee morale and quality consciousness
  • Enhance marketplace acceptance of products
  • Achieve economic-oriented benefits
  • Reduce operating costs
  • Reduce operating losses
  • Minimise field service costs
  • Reduce liability exposure

Principles of Total Quality Management

TQM ensures value for money for products that customers purchase. It also ensures that customers are satisfied with the functions and features of the product for the price paid. Based on customer satisfaction,

The principles of TQM are formulated as follows:

  • Visionary leadership
  • Customer-driven excellence
  • Organizational and personal learning
  • Valuing employees and partners
  • Agility
  • Focus on the future
  • Managing for innovation
  • Management by fact
  • Public responsibility
  • The focus of results and creating values
  • Systems perspective

Applications of TQM

TQM relies on concepts, such as leadership, commitment, trust, respect, honesty, integrity, customer satisfaction, continuous improvement, communications, problem-solving, etc. Using these concepts,

TQM can be successfully applied to various sectors, such as:

Higher Education Institutions

Implementation of TQM helps to improve student participation levels in academic projects in higher education institutions.


TQM-driven quality management helps to enhance customer-retailer relationships as the retail crew can work in a team efficiently and produce the required output at a faster rate.

Library and Information Science

TQM helps with the effective evaluation of reference sources using a checklist of criteria. It also helps in conducting effective user surveys online regarding library services.

IT Services

TQM evaluation helps enhance the operational capabilities of both the workforce and the IT Company and thus helps gain a sustained competitive advantage over its competitors.

Construction and Manufacturing

TQM processes help in effectively organizing materials, workforce, and documentation regarding projects. It also helps to follow standards in project plans, project schedules, project billings, etc.

TQM Model

The TQM framework started with the contributions of quality management gurus like Shewhart, Deming, Juran, Feigenbaum, Ishikawa, Crosby, and Taguchi. They have contributed to the principles, practices, tools, and techniques for quality management. TQM does not occur overnight, there are no immediate remedies.

TQM is an effective system for integrating quality development, maintenance, and improvement efforts of various groups in an organization continuously, to enable marketing, engineering, production, and service at the most economic levels for customer satisfaction.

The figure depicts the TQM system:

TQM is applied to many stages of the industrial cycle which are listed below:

  • Marketing
  • Engineering
  • Purchasing
  • Manufacturing
  • Mechanical
  • Shipping
  • Installation and product service, etc.
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  • Gitlow, H. (2001). Quality management systems. Boca Raton, Fla.: St. Lucie Press.

  • Hellard, R. (1993). Total quality in construction projects. London: T. Telford.

  • Kanji, G. (1995). Total quality management. London: Chapman & Hall.

  • Pollitt, C., & Bouckaert, G. (1995). Quality improvement in European public services. London: Sage.

  • Thorpe, B., Sumner, P., & Thorpe, B. (2004). Quality management in construction. Aldershot, England: Gower.

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