TQM: Getting Things Right the First Time

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Introduction
TQM is the way of managing for the future, and is far wider in its application than just assuring product or service quality – it is a way of managing people and business processes to ensure complete customer satisfaction at every stage, internally and externally. TQM, combined with effective leadership, results in an organisation doing the right things right, first time.

The core of TQM is the customer-supplier interfaces, both externally and internally, and at each interface lie a number of processes. This core must be surrounded by commitment to quality, communication of the quality message, and recognition of the need to change the culture of the organisation to create total quality. These are the foundations of TQM, and they are supported by the key management functions of people, processes and systems in the organisation.

This section discusses each of these elements that, together, can make a total quality organisation. Other sections explain people, processes and systems in greater detail, all having the essential themes of commitment, culture and communication running through them.

Total Quality Management (TQM)
Customer
Supplier
Culture
Commitment
Communication
Systems
People
Processes
www.dti.gov.uk/quality/tqm
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Quality
What is quality?
A frequently used definition of quality is “Delighting the customer by fully meeting their needs and expectations”. These may include performance, appearance, availability, delivery, reliability, maintainability, cost effectiveness and price. It is, therefore, imperative that the organisation knows what these needs and expectations are. In addition, having identified them, the organisation must understand them, and measure its own ability to meet them.

Quality starts with market research – to establish the true requirements for the product or service and the true needs of the customers. However, for an organisation to be really effective, quality must span all functions, all people, all departments and all activities and be a common language for improvement. The cooperation of everyone at every interface is necessary to achieve a total quality organisation, in the same way that the Japanese achieve this with company wide quality control. Customers and suppliers

There exists in each department, each office, each home, a series of customers, suppliers and customersupplier interfaces. These are “the quality chains”, and they can be broken at any point by one person or one piece of equipment not meeting the requirements of the customer, internal or external. The failure usually finds its way to the interface between the organisation and its external customer, or in the worst case, actually to the external customer.

Failure to meet the requirements in any part of a quality chain has a way of multiplying, and failure in one part of the system creates problems elsewhere, leading to yet more failure and problems, and so the situation is exacerbated.The ability to meet customers’ (external and internal) requirements is vital. To achieve quality throughout an organisation, every person in the quality chain must be trained to ask the following questions about every customer-supplier interface: Customers (internal and external)

• Who are my customers?
• What are their true needs and expectations?
• How do, or can, I find out what these are?
• How can I measure my ability to meet their needs and expectations? • Do I have the capability to meet their needs and expectations? (If not, what must I do to improve this capability?)
• Do I continually meet their needs and expectations?
(If not, what prevents this from happening when the capability exists?) • How do I monitor changes in their needs and expectations? Suppliers (internal and external)
• Who are my internal suppliers?
• What are my true needs and expectations?
• How do I communicate my needs and expectations to my suppliers? • Do my suppliers have the capability to...
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