TQM metrics

Total Quality Management is a strategy to embed awareness of quality in all organizational processes.

In its various forms, Total Quality Management (TQM) is now an integral part of all types of industry, business and government organizations. Total Quality Management embraces quality, process, improvement, customer focus, formalization and measurements, or metrics.

At the heart of the Total Quality Management program lies the process, with its related topics such as process design, process management and process improvement. A process is defined as a set of related, interdependent activities carried out in a prescribed sequence to produce a particular output or outcome. All business operations can be viewed as sets of processes. The process perspective is therefore the most important characteristic of Total Quality Management.

The process is ever changing with innovation and continuous improvement. The objective of the Total Quality Management program is to make the process better by focusing not only on the process itself, but also on the people and their attitudes.

Total Quality Management also includes a lot of very sensible, but often overlooked, business practices, which allow the organization to find out the real needs of the customer, communicate to all employees their individual tasks and objectives, empower employees to fill customer (not organizational) need, reward people for the "right" behaviors, and give the customers what they actually need (not what the organization's management thinks they need).

There are a number of standards that address quality and process within Total Quality Management. Among the most prominent current standards are those of the International Standards Organization (ISO), and specifically the ISO 9000 series.

Measurements, or metrics, are one of the key requirements for process design and management. Typically, a wide spectrum of process metrics, including quality metrics, should be based very strongly on customer needs and values. Quality metrics can also form one element within a composite customer satisfaction index for various projects. The focus on customer satisfaction and performance improvement helps the organization to assess its ability to meet the customers' demands and business objectives.

Metrics are an essential part of a good, customer-oriented process management system and any program directed at continuous improvement. Metrics generally fall into two categories: performance metrics which assess the organization's overall performance in a wide range of areas (these metrics are most closely tied to outputs, customer requirements, and business needs for the process); and diagnostic metrics which are internally focused and usually associated with internal process steps and inputs received from suppliers.

The good metrics should be specific (i.e., targeted to the specific area), measurable (i.e., the organization's management should be able to collect accurate and complete data for the metric), actionable (i.e., the metric must be easy to understand and it should clearly specify "good" and "bad" trends), relevant (i.e., important for the current business process), and timely (i.e., the data for the metric should be collected on time).

In conclusion, Total Quality Management metrics are the foundation for any business improvement. A powerful Total Quality Management program based on a set of comprehensive measurements allows the organization to succeed in the modern competitive environment and improve in all dimensions of their business.

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