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What Is Total Quality Management and Why Is It Important for Long-Term Success?


As the U.S. economy recovers from disruptions that began during the COVID-19 pandemic, business insiders recommend companies invest in quality assurance (QA) management, a in-demand and high-value area of business.

A widely adopted QA model, called Total Quality Management (TQM), emphasizes development of an organization-wide, customer-centric commitment to improving processes, products, and services. It also emphasizes recruiting and training employees at all levels to support continuous optimization of processes. In supply chain management, for example, TQM involves risk management policies that limit the impact of disruptions, rejected orders, excessive shipping and storage fees, and broken business relationships.

Many economic breakdowns from the pandemic continue to ripple through the global economy and expose a glaring weakness: reliance on off-shore suppliers for everything from microchips to toys. The pandemic's exacerbation of this issue ultimately eliminated millions of jobs and destroyed billions of dollars of wealth.

Now, as businesses are rethinking their supply chains, Forbes recommends using the opportunity to improve supply chain QA, saying neglecting to do so is "a roll of the dice." It notes: "Ultimately, money spent now will be returned exponentially in terms of brand loyalty and revenue growth later."

How Are Business Professionals Preparing for Global Management Challenges?

Management professionals can gain competitive advantage for leadership roles in companies that are rethinking their QA strategies by earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Management degree, such as the one offered online by Barry University.

MBA graduates acquire expertise in TQM concepts and practices, such as defining products and service quality requirements, benchmarking, and process improvement. That expertise is critical in developing and deploying TQM strategies that integrate business functions and enable their continuous optimization, which improves customer satisfaction, improves efficiencies, and produces other advantages.

"The responsibility of leaders [in TQM implementation] consists of creating and maintaining the internal environment. In this environment, employees are able to become completely involved in achieving the organisation's [sic] goals and aims," according to isoTracker, a quality management services provider.

What Is Total Quality Management?

The roots of TQM reach back 100 years when businesses discovered they could outperform their competition by analyzing and standardizing their processes and identifying employee skills to accomplish them.

After World War II, W. Edwards Deming — an engineer, statistician and QA thought leader — helped Japan rebuild its industrial base, establishing it as the world's premier producer of consumer goods with his model called Plan, Do, Check, Act/Adjust (PDCA).

In 1980, Deming co-produced a television series, If Japan Can Do It, Why Can't We?, which introduced American businesses to the PDCA model and ultimately inspired the idea of Total Quality Management.

Today, TQM comprises a grand strategy to achieve long-term success by focusing on customers' needs and expectations. Successful implementation requires an in-depth understanding of organizational dynamics, culture, collective and individual expertise, and their internal and external relationships.

ASQ, a quality strategies resource center, identifies these eight factors as TQM essentials:

  1. Customer focus: The customer determines if the efforts are worthwhile.
  2. Employee involvement: Empower all employees to embrace continuous improvement.
  3. Process motivation: Define the process steps and measure performance.
  4. Integrated operations: Focus on horizontal relationships, rather than the vertical organization.
  5. Organization-wide approach: Formulate a strategic plan that integrates quality as a core component.
  6. Continual improvement: Use analytics and creativity to drive competitiveness.
  7. Data-driven decision-making: Set performance metrics and measure outcomes against them.
  8. Effective communication: Develop strategies and methods to keep employees informed and involved.

"These elements are considered so essential to TQM that many organizations define them, in some format, as a set of core values and principles on which the organization is to operate," according to ASQ, which centers its principles off those set by W. Edwards Deming and others.

An advanced business degree with a focus in management will give professionals the operational and supply chain skills to manage the complex problems of the modern world.

Learn more about Barry University's online Master of Business Administration in Management program.


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