Total quality management

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Total Quality Management ( TQM ), sometimes also comprehensive quality management , describes the continuous, continuous and all areas of an organization ( company , institution etc.) covering, recording, viewing, organizing and controlling activity, which serves to introduce quality as a system goal and to guarantee it permanently. TQM was further developed in the Japanese automotive industry and ultimately made a model of success. TQM needs the full support of all employees in order to lead to success.

TQM principles

The essential principles of the TQM philosophy include:

  • Quality is based on the customer ,
  • Quality is achieved by employees at all areas and levels,
  • Quality encompasses many dimensions that have to be operationalized by criteria,
  • Quality is not a goal , but a process that never ends,
  • Quality relates to products and services, but
    above all to the processes used to produce them.
  • Quality requires active action and must be developed.

The most widespread TQM concept in Germany is the EFQM model for excellence of the European Foundation for Quality Management . This model has a holistic , results-oriented approach. The criteria of this model are used to award the most important German quality prize, the Ludwig Erhard Prize .

See also: Kaizen


Invention in the USA

William Edwards Deming pioneered quality management research in the 1940s . But after the end of the Second World War, nobody in the USA paid him any attention, as the focus was on maximizing the production volume in view of the overall reduction in production capacities worldwide after the war. In contrast, his work was more successful in war-torn Japan . The total quality management here quickly became a much-noticed management philosophy; as early as 1951, a Japanese company was awarded the so-called Deming Prize for particularly high quality requirements for the first time .

Further development in Japan

In the decades that followed, the Japanese captured market shares all over the world with high-quality, yet inexpensive products. This went so far that even proud US companies took a look at Japan and came across Deming's quality philosophy. In the seventies and eighties, this was finally used by well-known US companies. On the state side, Malcolm Baldrige , who acted as Secretary of Commerce from 1981 to 1987, campaigned for quality in companies . In 1987, the US Congress launched a rewards program for organizations with high standards of quality and performance. The Baldrige Award is awarded annually to this day. It is based on a quality model that is based on Deming's ideas and is constantly being further developed through surveys of numerous companies.

In Europe


The concept of this award also spilled over to Europe . In 1988, 14 large companies (including Nestlé , Bosch , Philips , Ciba-Geigy and Sulzer ) founded the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) , which was committed to developing a European model for quality management. The so-called EFQM model for business excellence is still supported by the organization today and continuously adapted with the help of practice. In 1992 a prize for quality was awarded at European level for the first time.


In addition to the EFQM, the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) developed the DIN EN ISO 9004 guideline for the first time in its "9000 series" (guidelines and standards for quality management ) in 1994 , which promotes business excellence in the sense of a total quality Management model. This guideline was updated in 2018 and now counts as an alternative to the EFQM approach.In contrast to EFQM, no prize is awarded within the framework of ISO Business Excellence and the implementation of the guideline cannot be certified either.

Basic idea

The basic idea is the same for all models: Quality management should not be limited to the technical functions to ensure product quality, but is defined on the relationship between the company and its customers . According to Philip B. Crosby - one of the US “quality gurus” - quality is the fulfillment of requirements. The primary goal is customer satisfaction, which can only be guaranteed in the long term through long-term development of the company itself. The EFQM model is a kind of large checklist that is intended to show the interdependencies in a company. The model comprises eight guiding principles:

  1. Leadership and consistency of goals
  2. Management with processes and facts
  3. Employee development and participation
  4. Continuous learning, innovation and improvement
  5. Building partnerships
  6. Responsibility to the public
  7. Result orientation
  8. customer focus

These are to be implemented in line with the so-called radar concept ( results , approach , deployment , assessment and review , see also management process ). A company must first determine the desired results, then plan the procedure for implementation , carry out the implementation and finally assess and review both the procedure (was it effective ?) And the implementation (was it efficient ?). An essential idea of ​​the model is to constantly compare one's own actions and results with the competition, namely with the best in the competition. In addition, the five ways of thinking (proactive, sensitive-intuitive, holistic, potential-oriented and economic) can also be seen as immanent for this approach.


In principle, the model can be used by all companies. It is independent of industry and size. In Switzerland that has, according to Liedtke shown, however, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can implement the model faster. Large firms would have to reckon with more than six years before they have developed into organizations that show comprehensive quality with corresponding results. The finalists for the Esprix Prize (the Swiss Quality Prize) were mainly SMEs in recent years; this year, for the first time, four of the five finalists were large companies. In the case of large corporations, however, individual divisions, divisions or even departments can apply the excellence model individually. According to Liedtke, the decisive factor for the successful implementation of the model is above all the personal commitment of top management.


The benefit of the EFQM model has not yet been analyzed in detail, but that of its counterpart across the Atlantic has. In the US, scientific studies have shown that companies that follow the model of excellence can have higher sales and profits , higher productivity , better stock performance and a faster growing number of jobs than their competitors.

The most compelling evidence was provided by the long-term study by Vinod Singhal of the Georgia Institute of Technology and Kevin Hendricks of the University of Western Ontario in 2000, which followed the performance of nearly 600 quality award winners for five years. The result: The winners' share price was 44% higher than the peer group, operating income 48% and sales 37%.


The introduction of TQM is sometimes difficult because the corporate culture may have to be changed. In the context of a fast-moving economy and short-term profit expectations, it is difficult to grasp quality as a company philosophy.

Comparison of classic quality assurance and the TQM approach

Classic quality assurance Total quality management
people make mistakes Processes provoke errors
Individual employees are responsible for errors All employees are responsible for mistakes
Zero errors cannot be achieved The goal is zero defects
Purchasing from many suppliers Partnership with a few suppliers
Customers have to take whatever quality the company delivers Everything is geared towards complete customer satisfaction


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ISO (Technical Committee ISO / TC 176): DIN EN ISO 9004: 2018-08 . In: Technical Committee ISO / TC 176 (Ed.): ISO 9000-9004 . tape 1 , no. 1 . Technical Committee ISO / TC 176, Geneva August 1, 2018.
  2. The new ISO 9004: 2018 "Quality of an Organization - Guide to Achieving Sustainable Success". In: . Dr. Anni Koubek, Authorized Signatory Innovation, Business Development Quality, Quality Austria Thomas Votsmeier, Head of International Cooperation / Standardization DGQ Both experts are members of ISO TC 176 SC2 Quality Systems WG May 25, 29, 2018, accessed on January 4, 2020 .
  3. J. Bloech, R. Bogaschewsky, U. Buscher, u. a .: Introduction to production. 2014, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, ISBN 978-3642318924 , pp. 301ff