Everything you need to know about the principles of total quality management.

Total quality management is the management approach of an organization, centered on quality, based on the participation of all of its members, and aiming at long-term success through customer satisfaction and benefits to all members of the organization and to society.

Total Quality Management is a structured system for satisfying internal and external customers and suppliers by integrating the business environment, continuous improvement, and breakthroughs with development, improvement, and maintenance cycles while changing organizational culture.

Total Quality Management denotes the managerial and operational task to perform a process of planning, organising, directing and controlling activities that lead to determine and implement the standards and levels of quality to be needed in product and services.


Fore mostly, the concept of total quality is the notion that excellences and optimum performances are being very essential in all the functions of business and its allied activities.

The principles of total quality management can be categorised into the following heads:-

A: Main principles of total quality management are:-

1. Customer Focus 2. Leadership 3. Involvement of People 4. Process Approach 5. Systems Approach to Management 6. Continual Improvement 7. Factual Approach to Decision-Making 8. Mutually Beneficial Supplier Relationships.


B: Operational principles of total quality management are:-

1. Universal Quality Responsibility 2. Quality Measurement 3. Inventory Reduction 4. Value Improvement 5. Supplier Teaming 6. Training.

C: Important principles guiding total quality management philosophy are:-

1. Commitment 2. Culture 3. Improvement 4. Co-Operation 5. Focus of Customer 6. Control 7. Cross-Functional 8. Cause Analysis 9. Change 10. Concept of Teams.


D: Fundamental principles of total quality management are:-

1. Putting the Customer First 2. Management by Fact 3. Focus on Prevention 4. Principle of Cross-Functional Management 5. Principle of Employee Involvement 6. Principle of PDCA Cycle.

Total Quality Management Principles – Customer Focus, Leadership, Involvement of People and a Few Other Principles

Total Quality Management Principles – 8 Main Principles: Customer Focus, Leadership, Involvement of People, Process Approach and a Few Other Principles

A management philosophy which seeks to integrate all organizational functions (marketing, finance, design, engineering, production, customer service) to focus on meeting customer needs and organizational objectives. It views organizations as a collection of processes. It maintains that organizations must strive to continuously improve these processes by incorporating the knowledge and experiences of workers. Total quality management is the management approach of an organization, centered on quality, based on the participation of all of its members, and aiming at long-term success through customer satisfaction and benefits to all members of the organization and to society.

Total Quality Management is a structured system for satisfying internal and external customers and suppliers by integrating the business environment, continuous improvement, and breakthroughs with development, improvement, and maintenance cycles while changing organizational culture.

The task force set up for revising the ISO (International Organizational for Standardization) 9000 series of standards decided that organizations can continually improve their performance if they follow the following (eight) principles of quality management-

Principle # 1. Customer Focus:

All organizational activities are directed towards producing goods and services that will satisfy the present and future customer requirements. Being aware of customer requirements and always satisfying them is the integral part of TQM.

Principle # 2. Leadership:

Organization should have good and effective leaders who provide unity of action and direction to all those working in the organization. The leaders should strive the organizational efforts towards achievement of overall goals.

Principle # 3. Involvement of People:

Structures, systems and technology by themselves do not provide quality unless people who run the organization fully exploit their abilities to work for the organization’s progress and benefits. Unless people understand what to do, how to do and obtain feedback on their performance, they cannot be encouraged to take responsibility for quality of their work. Greater involvement of people will lead to greater customer satisfaction.

Principle # 4. Process Approach:

Organizational goals can be achieved when resources and activities are managed as a process. “A process is a combination of methods, materials, manpower and machines that, taken together, produce a product”. Quality improvement aims at reducing variations amongst different processes by removing the causes of variations and bringing the process under control.

Principle # 5. Systems Approach to Management:


An organization should be viewed as a system with interrelated set of activities that link the internal organizational environment with its external environment and help to efficiently achieve the goals in terms of quality products.

Principle # 6. Continual Improvement:

TQM is not an end. It is the road to achieving the end, the quality improvement. It is a continuous process of incremental change that aims at improving organization’s operational efficiency according to improvement in competitors’ policies and customers’ requirements.

Principle # 7. Factual Approach to Decision-Making:

Managers should know their current quality standards in order to improve upon them. The decision to improve depends upon available information and its dissemination to all concerned and, therefore, it is necessary that right and accurate information is available to managers through effective information systems.

Principle # 8. Mutually Beneficial Supplier Relationships:

The organization and its suppliers should work for mutual benefit of each other to provide value to overall organizational activities.

Total Quality Management Principles – 10 Main Principles of TQM


Total quality management can be summarized as a management system for a customer-focused organization that involves all employees in continual improvement. It uses strategy, data, and effective communications to integrate the quality discipline into the culture and activities of the organization. Total Quality Management consist a set of core values and principles on which the organization is to operate.

Total quality management is the continuous management of quality that includes all aspects of an organization. It stems from the belief that mistakes can be avoided and defects can be prevented. It leads to continuously improving results, in all aspects of work, as a result of continuously improving capabilities, people, processes, and technology and machine capabilities.

A central principle of total quality management is that mistakes may be made by people are due to faulty systems and processes. This means that the root cause of such mistakes can be identified and eliminated, and repetition can be prevented by changing the process.

The main principles of total quality management are:


1. Delighting the customer. The term delight means bring the best of what really matters to the customers

2. All the decisions relating to quality will be based on facts to ensure that the quality decisions are meaningful

3. Continuous improvement in quality and for quality monitoring

4. Customer focused organization

5. Involvement of employees

6. TQM is supported by quality system


7. TQM is quality team work with team accountability

8. TQM is quality corporate culture

9. TQM focuses the need for strategic quality planning

10. TQM is led by senior quality managers with strong leadership to establish credibility.

Total Quality Management Principles – 6 Operational Principles of TQM: Universal Quality Responsibility, Quality Measurement, Inventory Reduction and a Few Others

Some of the operational principles of TQM:

1. Universal Quality Responsibility:

Quality is an organization-wise guiding philosophy that is not restricted to the firm’s quality control/quality assurance department. Under TQM, every person or department takes responsibility for quality.

2. Quality Measurement:


Under TQM, quality is recognised as a measurable commodity, and in order to improve, we need to know where we are (i.e., what the current quality levels are), and we need to have some idea where we are going (i.e., what quality levels we aspire to achieve). Statistical methods are used to support quality efforts in process-simplification and product-design variation.

3. Inventory Reduction:

Inventory reduction leads to –

a. Cost reduction, and

b. Quality improvement. This management philosophy is called Just-in-Time (JIT) inventory management.

4. Value Improvement:

The essence of value improvement is the ability to meet or exceed customer expectations while removing unnecessary costs. The philosophy is one of “Cost Management” and not merely “Cost Containment”.

5. Supplier Teaming:

Developing long-term relationships with a few high-quality suppliers, rather than simply selecting those suppliers with the lowest initial cost is termed as supplier teaming. This will ensure quality at the source level, i.e., at the raw materials / component procurement stage.

6. Training:


Training is one of the pre-requisites to ensure –

a. Employee Involvement,

b. Employee Empowerment, and

c. Continuous Improvement.

Total Quality Management Principles Notes

Total Quality Management denotes the managerial and operational task to perform a process of planning, organising, directing and controlling activities that lead to determine and implement the standards and levels of quality to be needed in product and services. Fore mostly, the concept of total quality is the notion that excellences and optimum performances are being very essential in all the functions of business and its allied activities.

A core definition of Total Quality Management (TQM) describes a management approach to long-term success through customer satisfaction. In a TQM effort, all members of an organization participate in improving processes, products, services, and the culture in which they work.


Total Quality Management (TQM) is an operational philosophy committed to customer satisfaction and continuous improvement. TQM is committed to quality/excellence and to being the best in all functions. Because TQM aims to reduce costs and improve quality, it can be used as a program to implement an overall low-cost or a differentiation business strategy. About 92% of manufacturing companies and 69% of service firms have implemented some form of quality management practices.

Main principles of TQM are as follows:

(i) Quality can and must be managed.

(ii) Everyone has a customer and is a supplier.

(iii) Processes, not people are the problem.

(iv) Every employee is responsible for quality.

(v) Problems must be prevented, not just fixed,

(vi) Quality must be measured.

(vii) Quality improvements must be continuous.

(viii)The quality standard is defect free.

(ix) Goals are based on requirements, not negotiated.

(x) Life cycle costs, not front end costs.

(xi) Management must be involved and lead.

(xii) Plan and organize for quality improvement

Total Quality Management Principles – 10 Important Principles Guiding TQM Philosophy: Commitment, Culture, Continuous Improvement, Co-Operation and a Few Others

Various principles that guide the total quality management philosophy are as follows:

Principle # 1. Commitment:

If a TQM culture is to be developed, total commitment must come from top management. It is not sufficient to delegate ‘quality’ issues to a single person or department. Quality expectations must be made clear by the top management, together with the support and training required for its achievement.

Principle # 2. Culture:

Training lies at the centre of effecting a change in culture and attitudes. Negative perceptions must be changed to encourage individual contributions and to make ‘quality consciousness’ a normal part of everyone’s job.

Principle # 3. Continuous Improvement:

TQM should be recognised as a ‘continuous process’. It is not a ‘one-time programme’ Continuous improvement refers to both “incremental” improvement, as well as “breakthrough” improvement. Improvement may be of various types, like –

a. Providing more value to the customer through new and improved products and services,

b. Identifying new business opportunities,

c. Reducing errors, defects, inefficiencies and wastes,

d. Improving responsiveness and cycle time performance, and

e. Improving productivity and effectiveness in the utilization of resources.

Principle # 4. Co-Operation:

Employee involvement and co-operation should be sought in the development of improvement strategies and associated performance measures. TQM visualises –

a. Employee Involvement – This means that every employee is involved in running the business and plays an active role in helping the firm meet its goals.

b. Employee Empowerment – This means that employees and management recognize that there are many obstacles in achieving organizational goals and can be overcome by employees who are provided with the necessary tools and authority to do so.

Principle # 5. Focus of Customer:

The needs of external customers (in receipt of the final product or service) and also the internal customers (colleagues who receive and supply goods, services or information), should be the prime focus.

Principle # 6. Control:

Documentation, procedures and awareness of current best practice are essential if TQM implementations are to function appropriately. Unless control procedures are in place, improvements cannot be monitored and measured nor deficiencies corrected.

Principle # 7. Cross-Functional:

TQM is a total system approach, and not a separate area or program. It is an integral part of high-level strategy-making. It works horizontally across functions and departments, involves all employees, and extends backward and forward to include the supply chain and the customer chain.

Principle # 8. Cause Analysis:

TQM seeks to design and build quality in the product, rather than allow defectives and then inspect and rectify them. The focus is on the causes rather than the symptoms of poor quality. This is done by identifying the root causes of the problems, and by implementing corrective actions that address problems at the root cause level.

Principle # 9. Change:

TQM stresses learning and adaptation to continual change as keys to organizational success. Improvement and learning should be a regular part of daily work. The objective is to eliminate problems at their source itself, and be driven by opportunities to do better, as well as by problems that need to be corrected. This requires a “learning” attitude, i.e., adaptation to change, leading to new goals or approaches.

Principle # 10. Concept of Teams:

Taking advantage of the synergy of teams is an effective way to address the problems and challenges of continuous improvement.

Total Quality Management Principles – Fundamental Principles of TQM

TQM principles can be better explained by examining those companies which have been successful. Some India companies which have won the Golden Peacock National Quality Awards from Quality Council of India (QCI) and Institute of Director (IOD) are Telco, Philips, Bharat Electronics, Kirloskar, SAIL and EIL.

On examining companies like Malcolm Baldrige Award winners in the USA like Motorola the Deming Prize winners like Toyota; and the European Quality Award winners like Corning, we find that the following fundamentals of TQM are common in each of these award winning international companies.

1. Putting the Customer First:

Achieving customer satisfaction is at the heart of total quality management. This principle supports the traditional view that the “customer is king”. If a company cannot satisfy its customers, another accompany will. Processes and products must be designed with one thing in mind-satisfying the customer.

Companies in India must move from a “product-out” mentality (i.e., pushing product or Service-out) to a “customer-in” attitude (i.e., providing the product or service that customers expect or better yet, beyond what they expect). These days the emphasis has shifted from the customer satisfaction to delighting the customer. The Indian companies in order to succeed in global competition are to adapt to this latest version of customer focus.

2. Management by Fact:

The second principle which TQM companies world over are adopting these days is management by fact. This principles is difficult to institutionalize because every employee in an organization has opinions, views and notions about how things should be done.

They may tell you what the root cause of a problem is but may not give you the facts for solving the problem. This way people may become the part of the problem itself rather than solvers. Facts are far better than opinions although opinions, views and ideas cannot be ignored.

3. Focus on Prevention:

Indian Companies like Telco, Philips, etc., which have mastered TQM realized that solving problems is the first step in making improvement. These Indian companies realized that until methods are instituted to prevent the recurrence of problems, long-lasting results cannot be achieved.

Most companies in India do not understand this fundamental principle and generally end up solving the same problem over and over again. That is they keep on inventing the wheel again and again. The companies must ensure that problems are solved once for all and recurrence of these problems is prevented.

4. Principle of Cross-Functional Management:

Cross-functional management recognize that no organizational unit can by itself control every aspect of the business operation to ensure that the customer’s requirements are met. Cross- functional management is a method of cooperat­ing across functional organizational boundaries- interacting with each other to make sure that the product or service meets the quality standards that are set.

Indian organizations may take some time to fully appreciate the power of this foun­dational principle of TQM. Because there may be a feeling that each manager in his/her depart­ment is functioning well. Generally, there may be every person for him/herself focus. They are interested in getting their jobs done and do not bother about others.

With the application of this principle and more decentralized approach, man­agers will be able to control the resources nec­essary to satisfy customers. Thus there would be improvement in customer satisfaction and cost savings. Slowly on implementation of TQM, In­dian managers will understand and realize the meaning and application of cross functional man­agement. Communication among departments will improve.

Cross-functional management tech­niques would reduce design time, improve prod­uct and service quality and build a sense of miss­ing among company employees. This principle is very powerful as it aligns the vectors so that ev­eryone and everything is going in the same di­rection. In the absence of this principle, no other approach for TQM can be successful.

5. Principle of Employee Involvement:

Sur­rounding the above four fundamental principles are two others that relate to how people should work together. Sometimes, this principle is re­ferred to as respect for people. In some Indian business organizations still the workers and em­ployees are treated as persons with brawn only and not with brain. This was the traditional way of exploiting the workers.

For becoming TQM Company, we have to respect and optimally use employees brain power along with their techni­cal skills and physical power. Most employees have very good minds and can contribute cre­atively if recognized. The companies must start tapping employees’ brainpower innovative and exciting ideas. Employees know about problem within the business much better and can help solve them.

Successful TQM companies world over recognize that workers’ energy, enthusiasm and value to the company can be limitless given the proper forum where their ideas can be ex­pressed and given the proper respect for their abilities. The Indian business organizations must start applying this TQM principle for increasing their effectiveness.

6. Principle of PDCA Cycle:

The plan-do-check- act (PDCA) principle is another essential tool for implementing a TQM programme success­fully in Indian organizations. The PDCA also re­ferred to as the “Deming Wheel” is the principle of continuous improvement. Most Indian com­panies do not have practices in place that force continuous improvement.

Following the PDCA principle would force the organizations in India to examine their business processes, check is the most important step in process against a stan­dard and stated business objective. Practice of the PDCA cycle generates numerous opportuni­ties for further improvement. A systematic pro­cess for examining how to improve things is nec­essary successful application of TQM.

Because conditions are never as good as they might be in any business. Managers should never be satis­fied with the status quo. Becoming complacent will allow competitors to win; but by following the PDCA principle they can guard against this complacency. Thus all Indian business organiza­tions implementing TQM must follow the prin­ciple of PDCA for their future success. Japa­nese companies have the PDCA principle as their main forte for improvement.

Total Quality Management Principles: 11 Points

Total quality management (TQM) is defined as an integrated organizational approach in delighting customers both inside and outside by meeting their quality expectations on a continuous basis as everyone involved with the organization working on con­tinuous improvement in all products along with proper problem solving methodology. 

1. Business success can only be achieved by understanding and fulfilling the needs of customers.

2. Leadership in quality is the responsibility of top management.

3. Statistical reasoning with factual data is the basis for problem solving and continuous improvement.

4. All functions at all levels of an organization must focus on continuous improvement to achieve corporate goals.

5. Problem solving and process improvements are best performed by multifunctional work team.

6. Continuous learning, training and education is the responsibility of everyone in the organization.

7. Strive for competitive quality.

8. Continuous for improvement of production processes establish performance measures.

9. Empowerment of people, use of teams and effective utilization of the entire work force.

10. Continuous improvement in business process quality and management.

11. Establish partnership with suppliers.

The main principles that underlie TQM are summarized below:

i. Prevention – Prevention is better than cure. In the long run, it is cheaper to stop product defects than trying to find them.

ii. Zero defects – The ultimate aim is no (zero) defects – or exceptionally low defect levels if a product or service is complicated.

iii. Getting things right first time – Better not to produce at all than produce something defective.

iv. Quality involves everyone – Quality is not just the concern of the production or operations department – it involves everyone, including marketing, finance and human resource departments.

v. Continuous improvement – Businesses should always be looking for ways to improve processes to improve quality.

vi. Employee involvement – Those involved in production and operations have a vital role to play in spotting improvement opportunities for quality and identifying quality problems.