Total Quality Management (TQM) refers to a philosophy in management which aims to improve the performances of businesses so that they can gain advantage over their competitors through a strategic approach of fulfilling the needs and requirements of all customers (Agus, 2005; Pino, 2008). Once again, in this approach, the focus is on the quality of goods and services being offered to customers, thereby directly improving the performance of the company. As such, the primary objective of quality management practices “is to produce improvement in operative and business performance”, where operative performance relates to “customer satisfaction or the optimal quality of products and services while business performance is enhanced by improved financial results (Pino, 2008).
By adopting the TQM philosophy or approach, organizations seek to undertake fundamental changes and paradigm shifts in the manner in which they conduct business and several alterations are made with regard to the business being managed as a complete system rather than separate processes. When companies adopt the TQM program “employees are empowered, focus is placed on customers, and a set of effective management techniques is adopted” (Yeung, Cheng, and Lai, 2007). Efficiency in all processes of the business is achieved when each and every aspect of the company is facilitated to make substantial contributions toward improvement which occurs on a continuous and regular basis which ultimately results in the achievement of “learning, values, creativity and sustainability” (Miller 1993).
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Research confirms that the application of TQM to organizations boosts the productivity of “human and other physical assets” which in turn leads to “sustainable competitive advantage” (Huang, Gattiker, and Schroeder 2008). The focus of TQM on customer services and satisfaction in addition to the focus on continuous enhancement and improvement of management styles, techniques, products and services by encouraging teamwork makes it similar to the Japanese philosophies which also focus on similar aspects for improving the profitability and efficiency of organizations.
Similar to the receding terms including Customer care, Kaizen and Just-in-Time, Total Quality Management also strives for the incessant enhancement of products and services through the different processes relating to “management, workforce, suppliers and customers” with the primary objective of fulfilling and exceeding customer demands and needs (Huang, Gattiker, and Schroeder 2008). The approach is an amalgamation of all of the above philosophies which individually strive to maintain quality and reduce costs, thereby providing value added products to clients and improving the feasibility of the business.
Thus it is apparent that in all of the mentioned philosophies and approaches, customer satisfaction and fulfillment is the primary focus and all other processes are enhanced and improved to provide value added products and services to clients. Organizations which aspire to gain the competitive edge in the business scenario must adopt the relevant approaches which will enable them to cut costs, reduce wastes and add value to precuts and services resulting in Lean manufacturing. These approaches, when applied appropriately can benefit organizations immensely and improve profitability and provide them with the much needed competitive edge over their competitors.