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Expert Opinion

Quality and Principles of TQM

There are several opinions as to how “Quality” should be defined. Traditionally, most definitions have viewed quality as the attributes of a product or service. Commonly, these definitions have taken one of the following generic forms:
  • Quality is conformance to product specifications
  • Quality is product reliability
  • Quality is fitness for purpose
However, according to Williams, Griffin, and Attaway [1], quality has evolved from its traditional internal perspective to one that is customer-centric. Quality is now defined as “meeting or exceeding customer expectations.” Adopting this view of quality does not invalidate the need to continue providing products and services that are reliable or built to specification. It does imply, however, that the products need to provide customers with added value.

Total Quality Management (TQM) is the management of initiatives and programmes that are aimed at achieving the delivery of quality products and services. Several studies have attempted to identify the key principles of TQM. Among these, Douglas and Judge [2], Beer [3], Agus [4] and Mann [5] have attempted to identify the key principles of TQM. These key principles include the following:

  • Top management team involvement: Top management should act as the main driver for TQM and create an environment that ensures its success
  • TQM training: Employees should be continually and adequately trained on the methods and concepts of quality
  • Focus on the customer: Product attributes that contribute to value, which leads in turn to customer satisfaction, must be addressed in a quality-oriented system
  • Management by fact: Decisions should be taken on the basis of fact, which should be supported by a measurement of performance, where possible
  • Use of TQM methods: The use of appropriate tools and techniques ensures that non-conformances are identified, measured and responded to consistently
  • Continuous improvement of processes: Organisations should continuously work towards doing things right the first time, every time
  • Development of a team culture: All employees must be trained to work together in an environment that nurtures individual initiative
  • Involvement and empowerment of employees: Employees should be encouraged to be pro-active in identifying and addressing quality-related problems.
It is important to note that the work carried out in the 1980s to identify the key principles of TQM led to them becoming the underpinning principles or core concepts of all major Business Excellence Models. These are also known as TQM Models and include models such as the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence and the EFQM Excellence Model. Developed in the late 1980s and early 1990s, these models have been continually refined each year. In the USA, many have credited the Baldrige Criteria as being a key contributor to the dominance of the American economy in the 1980s and 1990s.

For further information about the models discussed above, as well as other similar models, refer to the Management Brief issue entitled “Business Excellence.” This can be accessed at together with many other Management Brief reports..

The core concepts of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence [6] are 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
  • Social responsibility
  • Focus on results and creating value
  • Systems perspective
The fundamental principles underpinning the EFQM Excellence Model [7] are:
  • Results orientation
  • Customer focus
  • Leadership and constancy of purpose
  • Management by processes and facts
  • People development and involvement
  • Continuous learning, innovation and improvement
  • Partnership development
  • Corporate social responsibility
Historical Development of TQM

According to Beer [3] and Conti [8], TQM gained prominence in western countries in the 1980s as a response to the competitive advantage gained by Japanese companies, particularly in the automobile and electronics industries. However, the roots of modern quality management can be traced back to the early 1920s, when statistical theory was first applied to product quality control. This concept was further developed in Japan in the 1940s and 1950s, and was led by “quality gurus” such as Deming, Juran and Feigenbaum.


Inspection involves measuring, examining and testing products, processes and services against specified requirements to determine conformity. During the early years of manufacturing, inspection was used to decide whether a worker’s job or a product met the requirements and was, therefore, acceptable. The theories of F. W. Taylor, published in “The Principles of Scientific Management” in 1911 [9], led to the emergence of separate inspection departments in industry. From these inspection departments arose an important new idea, defect prevention, which in turn led to quality control. Inspection still has an important role in modern quality practices. However, it is no longer seen as the answer to all quality problems. Rather, it is one tool within a wider array.

Quality Control and Statistical Theory

Quality Control was introduced to detect and fix problems along the production line, and aimed to prevent the manufacture of faulty products. Statistical theory played an important role in this area. In the 1920s, Dr W. Shewhart developed the application of statistical methods to the management of quality. He produced the first modern control chart and demonstrated that variation in the production process leads to variation in products. Therefore, eliminating variation in the process would lead to a consistently high standard of end product.

Quality in Japan

In the 1940s, Japanese products were perceived as cheap, shoddy imitations. Japanese industrial leaders recognised this problem and aimed to produce innovative, high quality products. They invited quality gurus, such as Deming, Juran, and Feigenbaum, to advise on how to achieve this aim. In the 1950s, quality control and management developed quickly and became a main theme of Japanese management. The idea of quality did not stop at the management level. Quality circles at employee level started in the early 1960s. A quality circle is a volunteer group of workers that meet to discuss issues aimed at improving aspects of their work. A by-product of quality circles was employee motivation and involvement.

Total Quality

The term “Total Quality” was used for the first time by Feigenbaum, in a paper published in 1956 [10]. Feigenbaum described a total quality system as “one which embraces the whole cycle of customer satisfaction from the interpretation of his requirements prior to the ordering stage, through to the supply of a product or service at an economical price and on to his perception of the product after he has used it over an appropriate period of time”. At this time, Japan’s exports to the USA and Europe were beginning to increase significantly, as a result of its comparatively cheaper prices and higher quality.

Total Quality Management

In the 1980s and 1990s, there began a new phase of quality control and management, which became known as Total Quality Management (TQM). Having observed Japan’s success at quality development, western companies started to introduce their own quality initiatives. TQM was developed as a catchall phrase for the broad spectrum of quality-focused strategies, programmes and techniques during this period, and became the centre of focus for the western quality movement. Initial TQM definitions were customer-focused. However, as time progressed—and in particular following the development of business excellence models—the definitions became broader and focused on all stakeholders.

Quality Awards and Excellence Models

In 1987, the development of the Malcolm Baldrige Award in the United States provided a major step forward in quality management. The Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence, on which the award was based, represented the first clearly defined and globally recognised TQM model. (Other similar models were developed before or shortly after, such as the Australian and Canadian models, but they did not have the same international impact.) The Baldrige Criteria were developed by the United States government to encourage companies to improve their competitiveness. In 1992, the EFQM Excellence Model was developed by the European Foundation of Quality Management to promote quality throughout Europe.

Quality and Cost

According to Williams, Griffin and Attaway [1], research across diverse industries has found that the direct andindirect costs associated with quality problems often far exceed the investment costs needed for quality improvements. It was this philosophy that led Phil Crosby [11] to introduce the phrase “Quality is Free,” implying that investments made to improve quality would pay for themselves.One of the basic key approaches to the collection and presentation of the cost of quality, as specified in British Standard BS 6143, is the Prevention, Appraisal, Failure (PAF) Model [12, 13, 14]. This model is summarised as follows:
  • Prevention costs are the costs associated with the planning and operation of a quality management system to reduce the failure and appraisal costs. Typical prevention costs include the cost of training, supplier quality assurance and quality system implementation.
  • Appraisal costs are the costs associated with verification activities to ensure conformance to requirements. They include the cost of incoming materials inspection, in-process inspection and process control activities.
  • Internal failure costs are the costs associated with non-conformance of product or service before transfer of ownership to the customer. They include the cost of scrap, re-work and re-inspection.
  • External failure costs are the costs associated with non-conformance of product after transfer of ownership to the customer. They include costs of product return, warranty claims, complaints investigation and lost future sales.
Implementation of TQM

There is no single approach to the implementation of TQM. Each organisation needs to develop a programme that is suited to its own needs, taking into account a multitude of factors, including product type, its stage of organisational development, resources available, organisational culture, and customer requirements. It is very likely that organisations planning for TQM will seek external assistance with quality training and strategy. Different perspectives to the implementation of quality exist and are summarised below:

Foster [13] suggests that there are different functional perspectives on quality, describing these as:
  • A supply chain perspective: Many important quality-related activities are part of supply chain management. These include supplier qualification, acceptance sampling and conformance rates.
  • An engineering perspective: Product and process design involves activities associated with developing a product from concept development to final design and implementation. This involves quality-related activities such as Statistical Process Control (SPC), Design of Experiments (DOE), reliability, and Failure Modes Effect Analysis (FMEA).
  • An operations perspective: Operations management uses the “systems view” that underlies modern quality management thinking.
  • A strategic management perspective: Quality-related goals, tactics and strategies should be part of the organisation’s strategic plan.
Evans and Lindsay [12] put forward a different approach that is based on applying total quality at three levels:
  • The organisational level: Quality concerns centre on meeting customer requirements and the organisation should seek customer input on a regular basis. Customer-driven performance standards should be implemented.
  • The process level: Organisations are classified as functions or departments, such as marketing, design and product development, and emphasis is placed on improving cross-functional performance.
  • The performer/job level: Standards for output are based on quality and customer service requirements that originate at organisational and process levels.
Oakland [14] proposes a model that is based on three Cs (culture, communication and commitment) and four Ps, which are:
  • Planning: The development and deployment of policies and strategies; setting up appropriate partnerships and resources; and designing in quality.
  • Performance: Establishing a performance measurement framework; carrying out self-assessment, audits, reviews and benchmarking.
  • Processes: Understanding, management, design and redesign; quality management systems; continuous improvement.
  • People: Managing the human resources; culture change; teamwork; communications; innovation and learning.
According to Kehoe [15], the quality development of an organisation involves systems, techniques and people. While each organisation has a unique journey, most organisations will progress successively through the following three stages of development:
  • A systems orientation
  • An improvement orientation
  • A prevention orientation
For each of these stages, different tools, techniques and methodologies are applicable. The following provides examples of the types of tools, techniques, and methodologies that may be used through Kehoe’s quality development stages. These examples are drawn from many experts, including Kehoe.

Systems Orientation

A systems orientation indicates the starting point of the quality journey. At this stage, the emphasis is on implementing “mechanistic” systems and trying to interest people in quality. The typical characteristics of this stage are as follows:
  • Teamwork is limited to specific problems
  • Management style reflects an awareness of TQM
  • Customers are defined and their requirements are determined
  • Techniques such as acceptance sampling are used to sort conforming from non-conforming products
  • Quality systems such as ISO9000: 2000 and environmental systems such as ISO14001 are implemented.
An Improvement Orientation

An improvement orientation implies that considerable progress has been made with respect to the culture and deployment of tools and techniques. The typical characteristics of this stage are as follows:
  • Teamwork involves the establishment of improvement teams
  • Management style reflects involvement in TQM activities
  • Processes are improved to exceed customer requirements, leading to improved customer service
  • Business excellence self-assessments are deployed
  • Improvement tools including the seven quality control tools (see Figure 1) are implemented.
7 Quality Control Tools(Improvement Orientation)   7 Management Tools (Prevention Orientation)
 Flow Charts  Affinity Diagrams
 Tally Charts  Inter-Relationship Diagrams
 Histograms  Tree Diagrams
 Pareto Analysis  Matrix Diagrams
 Cause & Effect Diagrams  Matrix Data Analysis
 Scatter Diagrams  Process Decision Charts
 Control Charts  Arrow Diagrams
Figure 1: Tools Typically Used at the Improvement and Prevention Orientation Stages [12, 15]

A Prevention Orientation

A prevention orientation represents a mature stage of quality development, where the emphasis is on defect prevention and sustainability. The typical characteristics of this stage are as follows:
  • Organisational structure is team-based
  • Management style reflects commitment to TQM and its sustainability
  • Customer relationships are developed and customer loyalty develops
  • People are rewarded and recognised for appropriate behaviour and values
  • Advanced prevention-based quality tools and methodologies such as benchmarking, Failure Modes and Effect Analysis (FMEA), reliability analysis, design of experiments, the seven management tools (see Figure 1, page 5) and total preventative maintenance are deployed
  • External recognition is received through winning business excellence awards.
For further information on any of the tools discussed in this section, go to the member’s area of the web site, where more than 900 improvement tools are described, together with case study examples of their implementation.

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