Total Quality Management

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Total Quality Management

William M. Norton MIS 462 - Systems Design, Implementation and Project Management October 25, 2005





Nine Dimensions of Quality... 4

Brief History of Quality... 6


What is TQM?... 7

Vision and Organization-Wide Support... 8

The TQM Way... 9

TQM STATISTICAL TOOLS with examples... 13

Flow Chart... 13

Scatter Diagram... 14

Histogram... 15

Cause and Effect Diagram... 15

Pareto Diagram... 16




One may notice the term “quality” interwoven in just about every television and print advertisement. Online and brick and mortar retail stores use the term to describe virtually every product sold. For example, typical advertisements may read: “buy our high-quality HDTV’s”, top-quality LCS monitors”, and

superior-quality car stereo systems.” And the list goes on and

on. But quality is much more than a punch line for sales and marketing advertisements. Developing a “quality” product or service means the organization is committed to customer satisfaction. Moreover, “quality” can serve as a measure of success; determining in part whether an organization can compete with rivals by offering high quality products and services at a reasonable price to the consumer.


But what is quality? Is it something tangible or is it something perceived? If asked to define what quality is, customers will give varied answers. Some may assert that quality is having a great product that meets their needs. While others may posit that a quality product is one that is more


expensive but will last a long time. In our society, these are generally accepted definitions as to what defines quality. Dale E. Besterfield (2001) agrees with these assertions. He points out that when customers think of “quality” they usually think of it in terms of an excellent product or service. He [Besterfield] further points out that “when a product surpasses our expectations we consider that quality” (Besterfield, 2001, p. 1).


Besterfield (2001) defines nine dimensions of quality. They are:

Performance Reliability Response

Features Durability Aesthetics

Conformance Service Reputation

Performance refers to primary product

characteristics such as display resolution, speed, bandwidth, etc.

Features refer to secondary product

characteristics such as remote access, remote control, extended warranty, etc.


Conformance is meeting specifications from customers or industry.

Reliability is mean time between failures

(MTBF). How long will the product last before it fails?

Durability refers to the useful life of a

product. For instance, automobiles have wear and tear durability and after so many useful miles, an automobile may require repair.

Service is referring to the ease to which

something can be repaired or serviced.

Response is defined as the human-to-human

interface. For example, how friendly a sales representative is to the customers.

Aesthetics is referring to how the product

looks. For instance, the painted finish on a piece of furniture.

Reputation is concerned with past performance,

such as being ranked number one in customer service.


It is important to understand that these nine dimensions of quality are independent of each other. More specifically, a product or service can excel in one dimension and be average in another (Besterfield, 2001, p. 2). It is management’s responsibility to determine which quality dimensions the organization should aim to excel in. For example, Dell (, 2005) computer distribution company prides itself on provided high-performance computers at very competitive prices. Dell also prides itself on its standard-setting customer service and support. Dell’s offering of high-performance products coupled with top-notch customer service creates a competitive advantage which increases the likelihood that Dell will survive for many years to come.

Brief History of Quality

In the past, the idea of quality was primarily controlled by the guilds. Besterfield (2001) explains that quality was controlled by the long periods of training required by the guilds. This long period of guild training “instilled pride in workers for quality of product” (Besterfield, 2001, p. 3).

During the Industrial Revolution however, specialization of labor was introduced and as a result, the worker no longer built the entire product but only a portion of it. This fragmented assembly process decreased product cost but at the same time


increasing defect rates. As a result, it became necessary to inspect products more closely after manufacture (Besterfield, 2001, p. 3). The need arose for a system of quality control; a system that could ensure product quality, lower development costs, and increase customer satisfaction. That need was fulfilled by the concepts and techniques offered by a Total Quality Management (TQM) system.


In every organization today, there must be some form of quality control program in place. A good quality control program ensures high-quality products produced efficiently as possible. One such program is Total Quality Management or TQM. Tiffany A Koszalka (2005) writes that TQM activities should be implemented to increase productivity of the organization, quality, effectiveness of all efforts, and efficiency. So this brings us to the question: what is Total Quality Management?

What is Total Quality Management (TQM)?

Total Quality Management is a “way” of doing business. Besterfield (2001) points out that TQM is “both a philosophy and a set of guiding principles that represent the foundation of a continuously improving organization.” The fundamental purpose of TQM is to provide a quality product or service to the


customer, which will, in turn, provide increased productivity and lower cost (Besterfield, 2001, p. 22). Furthermore, TQM forces companies to move towards continuous improvement to match customer needs and provide unmatched customer value (Isaac, 2004, p. 309). In order to stay competitive, an organization must consider adopting newer business concepts. Koszalka (2005) lists several tenets of TQM that must be adopted in order for TQM to work. They are:

There must be a common quality vision.

There must be a commitment to organizing for


There must be dedication to continuous


Quality is everyone’s responsibility not just

quality control and the CEO.

People who work with the system know more about

the system thus they should be consulted when a process is being analyzed.

Common Vision and Organization-Wide Support

Implementing a TQM program in any organization requires a common vision and support from all employees. In order for Total Quality Management to be successful within an organization, there must first be acceptance from senior-level


management. Koszalka (2005) asserts that top management “must establish that total quality [TQM] is a top-priority.” With out senior-level management support, a TQM program is dead in the water. For instance, while I was a test engineering technician at Allied Signal Aerospace production facility in Cheshire, CT, middle-management attempted to implement a Total Quality Leadership/Total Quality Management (TQL/TQM) program without first seeking upper-management blessing. Because of this lack of “blessing” from upper-management, the program got off to a very rocky start. Upper-management consisted of mature businessmen who were mentored during the Industrial Revolution’s “our way or the highway” mindset. They [upper-management] had great confidence in the traditional methods of doing business and could not and would not entertain the need to change or adopt newer methods.

The TQM Way

As stated earlier TQM forces companies to move towards continuous improvement. This continuous improvement concept can be utilized for every function and process within an organization. But in order to improve upon a process, formalized steps or phases should be taken to manage the improvement process. Besterfield (2001) lists and briefly describes each phase within a problem-solving methodology.


These phases are:

1.Identify the opportunity 2.Analyze the current process. 3.Develop the optimal solution(s). 4.Implement changes.

5.Study the results.

6.Standardize the solution. 7.Plan for the future.

Identifying the problem is fundamental to any situation where improvement or correction is required. This is a crucial step because if the problem is not correctly identified, negative results may occur. In other words, incorrectly identifying the problem may result in providing a good solution to the wrong problem (Marakas, 2003, p. 37).

Analyzing the current process or processes implies understanding the process and how it works (Besterfield, 2001, p. 45). As stated earlier, one of the tenets of TQM is “people who work with the system know more about the system thus they should be consulted when a process is being analyzed.” In order to understand a process or system of processes, management must


consult with the personnel that work with the system on a daily basis. “Nuts and bolts” level employees are a source of valuable information and can provide unique insight to improving a process. Disregarding this potential source of information may prove to be a mistake.

Developing the optimal solution involves selecting an effective solution from a set of feasible alternatives (Marakas, 2003, p. 37). With process improvement, there are three paths the investigative team can go: (1) create a new process that supersedes the existing process (2) combine different processes, or (3) modify the existing process (Besterfield, 2001, p. 47). Once the solution has been chosen, evaluation of the solution is the next step.

Implementing the changes entails preparing the implementation plan, obtaining approval, and actually implementing the process improvements (Besterfield, 2001, p. 48). However, implementing a change to a process is not without uncertainties. As Marakas (2003) points out uncertainties are situations that are beyond the control of the decision maker. So, in order to reduce uncertainties the implementation plan must fully describe:

1. Why will it [the solution] be done? 2. How will it be done?


4. Who will do it?

5. Where will it be done?

Studying the results requires measurements to be taken. Tools such as Pareto diagrams and histograms should be employed to monitor and evaluate the process change, making adjustments when necessary (Besterfield, 2001, p. 49).

Once the team is satisfied with the results of the process change, it must be formalized. For example, at my previous place of employment when a process change was formalized, process documents required permanent “red lining”, operational level management needed to be made aware of the change, and operators required training in the new process. This can be a daunting task but properly documenting the change coupled with adequate training is crucial to ensure successful transition to the new process.

The objective of future planning is to achieve improved levels of process performance (Besterfield, 2001, p. 49). As mentioned previously, TQM involves continuous improvement. “Continuous improvement means not being satisfied with doing a good job or process but striving to improve that job or process” (Besterfield, 2001, p. 50). Management must continue to forge ahead, seeking new ways to improve upon organizational processes. The ultimate goal of continuous improvement is the


attainment of near perfection thus ensuring long-term survivability.


TQM relies heavily on statistical tools and techniques to improve processes within an organization. As discussed in preceding paragraphs, analyzing the results of a process change requires taking measurements. Some of the more popular tools for capturing and analyzing measurements data are flow charts, scatter diagrams, histograms, cause and effect diagrams, and Pareto analysis diagrams. Each of these tools has a different application, so understanding the type of information each provides is crucial.

Flow Chart

A flow chart is a diagram that shows the travel and interaction with people that work involves. A flow chart documents the process, shows who is responsible for each step, and who the internal/external customer is (Winston, 1997, p. 106). Please see figure 1 below for an example of a flow chart.


Figure 1. System Flowchart.

Scatter Diagrams

Scatter diagrams helps us recognize & understand causal relationships (Winston, 1997, p. 106). Scatter diagrams are this simplest way to “determine if a cause-and-effect relationship exists between two variables” (Besterfield, 2001, p. 82). Please refer to figure 2 for an example of a scatter diagram.



“A histogram is a chart showing the number of occurrences

in rank order” (Winston, 1997, p. 110). The purpose of a histogram is to provide information describing variation in a process, and suggests the shape of the population indicating whether there are gaps in the data (Besterfield, 2001, p. 86). Please refer to figure 3 for an example of a histogram.

Figure 3. Histogram.

Cause-and-Effect Diagrams

“Cause and effect diagrams are graphic outlines of probable

causes of problems” (Winston, 1997, p. 111). According to Besterfield (2001), cause-and-effect diagrams are used to investigate either a “bad” effect and to take action to correct


the causes or a “good” effect and to learn those causes responsible. Please see figure 4 for an example of a cause-and-effect diagram.

Figure 4. C & E diagram.

Pareto Diagrams

Lastly, Pareto diagrams are used to rank data classifications in descending order from left to right. They are used primarily as a means to identify the most important problems (Besterfield, 2001, p. 74). Please refer to figure 5 for an example of a Pareto diagram.


Figure 5. Pareto Diagram.


In today’s world of ever-increasing consumer demand, dense competition, and globalization, companies need to ensure that an effective quality program is in place. Consumers are demanding more and more that products meet high-levels of performance and reliability but at the same time remain cost-effective. In order for companies to meet these demands, a continuous process improvement mentality must be adopted. Total Quality Management (TQM) provides for continuous improvement through formalized, methodological steps. TQM utilizes statistical tools to analyze factual data to reveal truths as to the effectiveness of a process. In order for TQM to work however, organizational-wide adoption must take place. This adoption should start at the executive-level of the company and trickle down to the


front-pine employee. Through training, patience and determination TQM can transform a mediocre company into a world class enterprise.



Besterfield, D. (2001). Quality control. 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Isaac, G., Rajendran, C., & Anantheraman R. (2004). A conceptual framework for total quality management in software organizations. Total Quality Management, 15(3), 307-344.

Marakas, G. (2003). Decision support systems, in the 21st century. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Koszalka, T. A. (n.d.). Tqm. Retrieved Oct. 25, 2005, from

Winston, B. (1997). Total quality management, a heartfelt approach to doing things right. 1997 ed.: Regent University, School of Business.