September 26, 2018

Total Quality Management principles

Total Quality Management (TQM) originated in 1954 from the industrial sector of Japan. However, its history dates back to the 1920’s. In the 1980s, this concept became more popular and has been continually developed for use inTotal Quality Management principles schools, hospitals, hotels and other organizations. Nowadays, e-businesses are also employing the Total Quality Management principles.

By definition, Total Quality Management is an approach that ensures all members of staff play a part in improving the process, products, services and culture of work. Total Quality Management principles are usually employed at the frontline level where clerical, production and low-level managers are very much involved.

Hence, the objective of Total Quality Management is to do the right things the first time continuously, thereby saving the time the organization would have used in correcting errors. Total Quality Management principles are beneficial to any organization because it reduces cost, increases staff morale, reduces errors and increases customer satisfaction.

In addition, Total Quality Management works better in organizations where management strongly supports these principles.

Therefore, this article will help you to:

  • Understand how to employ Total Quality Management principles in organizations.
  • Learn about the 8 principles of TQM.
  • Grasp, in full, the concept of Total Quality Management.
  • Explain the importance of Total Quality Management.

Total Quality Management

Get A copy of Total Quality Management and Operational Excellence

Total Quality Management Principles

Organizations that have their core values centred on continuous improvement of the quality are better placed to benefit from Total Quality Management principles. Typically, these organisations have high-quality processes to meet and exceed the expectation of their customers. As such, everyone in the organization – management, customers, suppliers and employees – play a vital role in providing quality products and services.

In other words, the principles of Total Quality Management centre around the customer, quality of work, mutual respect and teamwork. Continuous improvement involves constant analysis of the way work is carried out in order to determine more effective and efficient ways of making improvements and achieving excellence.

Benefits of TQM principles

Hence, organizations that employ Total Quality Management principles foster mutual respect and teamwork amongst their employees. This is true because TQM principles foster a single-organizational culture of excellence and ensure that employees uphold the same principles of work.

Also, the application of TQM principles helps organizations to put strategic approaches in place to ensure the quality of products and services. This also means making sure their suppliers offer quality products.

Since Total Quality Management principles focus on the customer, it means that organizations should tailor their products and services to meet or exceed their customer’s expectations. In addition, products and services must be designed in a way that its attributes, convenience and functionality satisfy customers.

Furthermore, it is important that organizations build quality into the processes involved in producing goods and services, and measures for continual improvement taken to ensure these processes work all the time. Likewise, it is important that organizations empower their employees with continuous training to develop their skills.

8 principles of TQM

8 Principles of TQM

With increased competition and market globalization, Total Quality Management principles and practices are now becoming more and more important for the leadership and management of any organization.

Hence, 8 principles of TQM were developed by ISO TC176, an international organization responsible for maintaining ISO’s quality management standards. While ISO enables an organization to streamline its quality assurance systems in line with ISO systems and standards, TQM principles and practices ensure quality improvements in an organization.

Therefore, for organizations that seek to continually improve their performance over a long term, focus on customers and address the needs of all other stakeholders, these 8 Total Quality Management principles will serve as a guide in the right direction.

Principle 1: Customer focus

Of the eight principles, the first principle of total quality management is customer focus. This principle stresses that an organization should understand its customers; what they need and when they need it while trying to meet and exceed their expectations.

As such, revenue is increased, and waste reduced when a business seeks opportunities to satisfy its customers. Hence, the principle of customer focus covers both the needs of customers and customer service.

Principle 2: Leadership

The second principle of total quality management is leadership. Good leaders help to unite an organisation and give people a sense of direction. They create and nurture an environment where everyone’s views are given careful consideration in charting a course to the organisational objectives.

Therefore, without clear leadership, an organization loses its direction. This principle establishes that leaders are fundamental in setting clear goals and objectives and ensuring that employees are actively involved in achieving these objectives.

As such, this leads to the next principle which is people involvement.

Principle 3: People involvement

People are the essence of any organization’s existence. Research has shown that when people understand the importance of their contribution and role in an organization, they become innovative, eager to participate and creative in furthering the organization’s objectives.

Hence, this principle helps to bridge the gap of communication from management to employees.

Principle 4: Process approach

The fourth of the 8 principles of TQM is a process approach. This principle states that an organization achieves its desired result when related resources and activities are managed as a process. Therefore, this approach stresses efficiency, effectiveness, consistency and understanding. By so doing, speeding up activities, improving consistency, eliminating waste, reducing cost and promoting continuous improvements.

Principle 5: System approach to management

The fifth of the 8 TQM principles is the system approach to management. ISO defines this principle as “identifying, understanding and managing interrelated processes as a system contributes to the organization’s effectiveness and efficiency in achieving its objectives.”

Therefore, this principle stresses that several processes are managed simultaneously in an organised system. This makes the system much more effective and greater than the sum of its individual parts.

Principle 6: Continuous improvement

The sixth TQM principle is continual improvement. Businesses that thrive are those that keep adjusting to new market situations. Therefore, the principle of continual improvement should be a permanent objective of any organization.

This principle states that continual change should be an active business objective. By so doing, organizational flexibility increased ability to embrace new opportunities and improved performance are achieved.

Principle 7: Factual approach to decision-making

The seventh principle of TQM is the factual approach to decision-making. This principle involves effective decisions and actions based on available data. Decisions based on facts improves understanding of not only the product or service but also the marketplace as a whole.

Thus, implementing this principle will allow decisions to be made with more clarity and objectivity.

Principle 8: Mutually beneficial supplier relationships

The last (but not the least) of the 8 principles of TQM is mutually beneficial supplier relationships. This principle identifies the independence of organizations from their suppliers.

In addition, it ensures a mutually beneficial relationship between the two will enhance productivity and encourage working values.

Concept of Total Quality Management

While there are some differences in total quality management principles and their approaches to implementation, the basic concept of total quality management is common (Shortell et al, 1995).

Continuous improvement of quality

Foremost among TQM concepts is the idea of continuous improvement of quality. The underlying aim of total quality management is to improve the quality of products and services in any organization. By so doing, productivity, employability and customer service are improved.

When an organization focuses on this concept of total quality management, they are able to achieve the best.

Focus on the customer

Another TQM concept is a central focus on the customer. The customers are the internal and external recipients of an organization’s products. Therefore, the needs of customers and their desires define quality for the organization.

In turn, the organization uses this ‘definition’ to meet and exceed the customer’s expectations.

Operations improvement

Furthermore, systematic improvement of operations is another concept of total quality management. Every work done in an organization follows a chain or process. These processes account for 80-85% of the quality of work and productivity of employees. This concept establishes that work processes should be studied, through individuals or teams, to identify lapses or complexities.

As such, solutions can be proffered to prevent them from occurring in the future, the cost will be reduced and quality achieved.

Humana resources

The concept of human resources development is one of the concepts of total quality management. Organizations that employ total quality management principles are committed to employee learning and development. These principles require that management trust that well-trained staff can do the jobs assigned to them properly.

In addition, human resource development includes providing the training required in a quality improvement work environment as well as extensive education to help employees keep up-to-date on their jobs.

TQM leadership

Similarly, another concept of TQM is about management responsibility for TQM leadership. Managers are responsible to lead the transformation of an organization to imbibe the culture of quality. They must accept the responsibility for continuous quality improvements and be dedicated to empowering others.

Hence, the goal of management will be to ensure that everyone does a better job and act as a facilitator and catalyst for total quality in the organization.

Importance of Total Quality Management

There are many disadvantages to a successful implementation of total quality management principles. However, if an organization practices total quality management in part, they might inevitably run into trouble.

Therefore, the importance of total quality management cannot be overemphasised (Powell, 1995). Below are some of the benefits of TQM for the organisation.

Quality products and services

First and foremost, total quality management is important because it ensures quality products and services. The quality of a product can be measured by its performance, durability and reliability. As such, quality differentiates an organization from its competitors.

Total quality management ensures that necessary changes in the system are made. These changes, in turn, result to quality products and services that meet and exceed customer satisfaction.

Customer satisfaction

Similarly, total quality management is also essential for customer satisfaction. When customers are satisfied, it results in customer loyalty.

Consequently, satisfied and loyal customers introduce new customers to the organization. Customers only return to an organization if they are satisfied with the products and services and it fulfils their needs. By so doing, total quality management ensures that beneficial feedbacks are collected from customers and carefully monitored.

Also, defects are eliminated, continuous changes and improvements are made by the organization.

Increased profits

Furthermore, total quality management ensures increased revenues and higher profitability for the organization. As a result, employees also enjoy prompt payments of salaries, increased benefits and morale to work. In addition, employee turnover and cost of hiring and training new staff are reduced. Also, employees are satisfied and motivated to deliver their responsibilities to the organization.

Hence, total quality management increases an organization’s profitability by minimizing cost, waste, errors and inventory. It also ensures close coordination and teamwork among employees as they all work together to achieve the goals and objectives of quality in the organization.


In conclusion, total quality management principles work best in organizations that put in place processes for continuous improvement that ensure quality.

Generally, there are eight basic principles of total quality management. Customer focus centres on designing products and services that customers desire while meeting and exceeding their needs. On the other hand, leadership is the tool that is used to model and drive quality in all sectors of the organization. People involvement establishes teamwork and involvement in decision-making while process approach achieves efficiency and effectiveness.

In addition, system approach to management makes sure that multiple processes are managed as a system. Continual improvement, on the other hand, makes the organization flexible to inevitable changes in market situations. While evidence-based decision-making involves data and information collation and analysis, mutually beneficial supplier relationships promote strong relationships between the organization and its suppliers.

Also, the concept of total quality management focuses on continuous improvements by an organization to meet and exceed customers expectations. In addition, human resource development help to keep employees up-to-date and prepared to face new responsibilities in their jobs.

Finally, the importance of total quality management cannot be overemphasised. When total quality management principles are employed in any organization, profitability is increased while errors and waste are minimized. Also, customer feedback, customer satisfaction and customer loyalty are achieved. Consequently, teamwork is boosted and staff are motivated to perform their duties. In addition, the organization gains the confidence and loyalty of their staff as well.

Relevant links

About the author 


  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    13 Simple Tactics for Rapid Health Practice Growth

    Get this Free E-Book

    DISCOVER... how easy it is to get more patients and generate more revenue.