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What Are the 7 Principles of Total Quality Management?

By: Ben Baldwin

April 20, 2021

What Are the 7 Principles of Total Quality Management?

How many people within your company are responsible for quality? If your answer is anything less than “everyone”, there may be a problem.

Under the 7 Principles of Total Quality Management, each person within an organization shares the responsibility of quality management. The primary purpose of these principles is to engage every worker, every action, and every system with one common goal; maintaining and advancing the best quality standards.

But how can this be accomplished? How can manufacturers monitor the totality of their systems, processes, and people?

Modern technology like our work instruction software is enabling manufacturers to discover smarter ways to enact quality measures across the whole organization. With increased connections and data tracking, Total Quality Management is a powerful unifying force for any company.

Why is “Total” Critical for “Quality Management”?

Before we explore the 7 Principles of Total Quality Management, it will be helpful to understand what Quality Management is and why we need the all-encompassing “Total” added beforehand.

Quality Management consists of the methods companies use to ensure that their products, services, and organization consistently meet and improve on quality standards. In action, Quality Management is often broken down into 4 fundamental implementations:

  • Quality Planning
  • Quality Assurance
  • Quality Control
  • Quality Improvement

Each of these is an essential part of consistently providing and adding value to the customer, the employee, and the business.

Total Quality Management is an enhancement of these 4 categories. It is the philosophy that every person and every process contributes to the overall quality of the company and the supply chain. Maintaining quality is not only a job for inspectors and quality personnel; everyone needs to be unified and committed to this goal.

Total quality management

With this “Total” in place, Quality Management takes on a powerful commitment and reach. One that extends to all areas of production and extracts the best value. And with Industry 4.0 technology, the potential for widespread quality management is limitless.

Under this frame of mind, we can put the 7 Principles of Quality Management into their proper perspective.

The 7 Principles of Total Quality Management

The ISO (the International Organization for Standardization) has determined 7 principles of Total Quality Management:

  1. Customer Focus
  2. Leadership
  3. Engagement of People
  4. Process Approach
  5. Improvement
  6. Evidence-Based Decision-Making
  7. Relationship Management

Each principle has a mission statement that outlines its fundamental characteristics and goal. Let’s explore these 7 Principles of Total Quality Management and extract key methodologies to strengthen your quality management practices.

Principle # 1: Customer Focus

Mission statement: “The primary focus of quality management is to meet customer requirements and to strive to exceed customer expectations.”

customer focus

It's no surprise that customer focus is at the top of the list for the 7 principles of total quality management. Quality is intrinsically linked to the requirements of your customers. To be successful, quality needs to match or exceed customer expectations.

But this is not an easy task. Customer requirements and expectations are often growing and shifting over time. In light of this, quality should always be considered from the perspective of the consumer.

Each customer interaction is an opportunity to take note of their wants and needs. By focusing on increasing value for the consumer, your business takes hold of a powerful vision and purpose. Customer Focus allows you to receive greater loyalty, better reputation, and further revenue. Without this focus on the customer, the reason for your organization is lost.

It's not only about making money, it's about sharing your company’s purpose with the intended market.

A key method of adhering to customer requirements is with work instruction software. Documenting key processes and procedures into clear and visual instructions helps businesses achieve exact specifications and exceed the expectations of the consumer.

With a customer-oriented focus, operators, quality inspectors, and other players in the project come under the same goal and direction.

Principle #2: Leadership

Mission statement: “Leaders at all levels establish unity of purpose and direction and create conditions in which people are engaged in achieving the organization’s quality objectives.”

Company leadership does not only flow from top to bottom, it flows in all directions. When talking about quality, leadership is less about telling people what to do, and more about unifying the workforce.

Leaders of all levels must be on the same page; aligning their people, their strategies, and their objectives. With leadership that points in one direction, the rest of the workforce follows suit under the same purpose and focus.

A smart way for companies to maintain unity, share vision, and ensure compliance is with digital work instructions. Engage employees with top-down and bottom-up communication while monitoring progress and tracking quality.

Principle #3: Engagement of People

Mission statement: “Competent, empowered, and engaged people at all levels throughout the organization are essential to enhance its capability to create and deliver value.”

No matter the size of your operation, your company is a team. To manage any team efficiently, you need to involve all members. Otherwise, you will not pull quality and value from every area of your operation.

To get the most out of your employees, you need to first believe that each person has value to give. Valuing your personnel's skills, knowledge, and uniqueness will enable them to share their insights and expertise. This is essential for Total Quality Management as the effort is a company-wide objective.

Additionally, incorporating employees into the larger picture serves to enhance their comprehension and capabilities. With more knowledge and communication, employees are better able to make value-adding decisions.

engaged workers

To put it simply: an engaged worker is an enhanced worker.

One method of engaging employees is to involve them in the ongoing improvement processes and the future direction of the company. These sessions are a great opportunity to align everyone under the same strategic pursuits and motivation while also gathering invaluable information from them.

With work instruction software, every employee is connected. Gather input from the people on the shop floor and create your procedural documents with the employees who will use them. This will help your teams understand what changes are being made as well as allow you to gather valuable feedback.

Principle #4: Process Approach

Mission statement: “Consistent and predictable results are achieved more effectively and efficiently when activities are understood and managed as interrelated processes that function as a coherent system.”

No action within any company exists in isolation. Every process is connected to at least one other procedure. There is no point in managing each process individually.

continuous flow

Total quality management brings every activity into account when making changes or seeking opportunities for continuous improvement. Having a clear understanding of your companies interrelated activities will break down cross-functional barriers and provide consistent and predictable results.

Work instruction software is a system that integrates all of your processes, work instructions, and factory performance monitoring. Every interaction within the application is captured as data. Traceability and analytics help correlate all that is happening within the organization. This enables you to make informed and well-calculated decisions and provides the ability to create consistent quality at every level.

Principle #5: Improvement

Mission statement: “Successful organizations have an ongoing focus on improvement.”

Our industry is constantly changing. With new technological advancements and customer expectations growing at unprecedented rates, companies need to pursue improvement at an equal pace.

For this rate of improvement to be possible, companies need knowledge and flexibility. They need the ability to gather accurate data and incorporate the best methods as fast as possible.

Digital work instructions provide strength and flexibility to your operation. Your operators can receive live updates and instant communication from equipment, tools, and other people. You can also quickly update multiple procedures with just one click. This enables you to have the latest and most advanced methods for your workers.

This means that with the best practices and procedures, your product never falls behind in quality. Accurate and trustworthy data enables quality to consistently grow and improve.

Principle #6: Evidence-Based Decision-Making

Mission statement: “Decisions based on the analysis and evaluation of data and information are more likely to produce desired results.”

Often when faced with a decision, we are receiving information from multiple sources. This can muddy the waters when it comes time to make changes as each source does not contain the whole story.

Without trustworthy data, how can we perform evidence-based decision-making?

What is needed is factual data from a trusted source that monitors all aspects of your operation. This clear perspective will provide a firm grasp of the cause-and-effect relationships within your organization.

Our software provides real-time production data for rapid and enlightened decision-making. Track real-time data and monitor fluctuations over time to see trends and areas for improvement. Traceability data is available permanently so that you always have key information for optimized analysis and better risk assessment for future projects.

Principle #7: Relationship Management

Mission statement: “For sustained success, an organization manages its relationships with interested parties, such as suppliers.”

In the same way that no process stands alone, no company does either. There are a lot of separate elements and parties within a supply chain. These interested parties are all connected to some degree and need to work together.

business relationships

For continued success, organizations need to manage their relationships and optimize their interactions to promote healthy business connections.

One method of managing these relationships is by optimizing methods to share procedures, inspection results, and quality data with suppliers, customers, regulatory bodies, and others. Use technology to your advantage to collaborate with all interested parties and enhance the flow of information.

For example within the medical industry, traceability goes a long way in assuring quality at every step of the process. This traceability data is easily shared to guarantee that all quality practices were followed and specifications are being achieved.

Building business relationships is mainly based on trustful work methods. Modern technology has the functionalities to ensure confidence, which is essential to long-lasting partnerships.

Take Advantage of Technology for Total Quality Management

Modern technology is making incredible strides in connecting every worker and every process. With a complete perspective of your operation and accurate data, the 7 Principles of Total Quality Management are made stronger and more achievable.

In today’s competitive market, adopting modern technology is a necessity. Regardless of the market you're in, take advantage of technology and achieve Total Quality Management.

With contributions from Berenice Mengo.