Can TQM Practices Help Your Supply Chain Meet Increasing Consumer Demand?
Total Quality Management or TQM is a term that describes an organizational approach that ensures quality standards are set and maintained in regard to a businesses’ goods or services. A business can achieve a higher level of operational excellence as a result of higher standards of quality being stressed throughout all parts of an organization.
But do TQM practices live up to all the hype? Is it a viable option to help your supply chain thrive in the highly competitive supply chain industry?
Let’s take a closer look.
A Brief Overview of TQM
William Deming was an influential figure throughout the 20th century. He is the man responsible for the philosophy of TQM and many of his theories are still used in several areas of business management to this day.
In developing TQM, Deming posited that there were 14 important principles of quality management. From these 14 points, later scholars developed 8 principles that are widely considered to make for an effective TQM system:
- Customer-Centric Approach
- Worker Involvement
- Focus on the Process
- Systematic Management
- Emphasis on Improvement at All Times
- Data-Driven Decisions
- Strong Bonds With Suppliers
Much like the 7 R’s of supply chain management, the 8 principles of TQM, when adhered to, often lead to a more successful and comprehensive organizational structure.
How Can TQM Help Supply Chains?
While speed and quantity are certainly important factors, quality is by far the most important consideration in the long run.
Ensuring some sort of quality management practices are implemented throughout your supply chain is one of the best ways to stay competitive and vie for your share of consumer demand. With a peak shipping season close at hand, businesses need to start thinking now about how they’ll be able to meet what is sure to be an incredible flow of demand for the next few months.
Think about a business that solely emphasizes the speed of production. If the only thing they do well is getting their product to the consumer quickly with no regard for quality, sooner or later their business will suffer and be out-competed by another organization that adheres to a TQM model. Speed and efficiency is great but if it is not backed with adherence to a high standard of quality, eventually the business will struggle.
How Can Your Company Implement TQM Practices?
It doesn’t take a complete overhaul of your business’s practices to start implementing some features of TQM. The first steps you should take, as well as some important questions to ask yourself in order to optimize your supply chain’s quality management strategy are as follows:
- Reach out to your customers to determine their level of satisfaction.
- Examine your company’s leadership hierarchy. Is there any confusion with regards to roles and who is responsible for which tasks?
- Connect with your employees at all levels of the company. Are they satisfied with how things are done? Do they have any suggestions for improvement or needs of their own?
- Examine your process as a whole: are there any redundant steps in production? Is there anything that can be eliminated or streamlined?
- Do you have a defined management system based on core principles?
- When was the last time you updated your software? Are you constantly monitoring your processes to ensure that you are using the best technology and machinery possible? This may logically lead a business owner to adopt a supply chain maturity model if it fits the needs of his or her organization.
- You undoubtedly collect a lot of data throughout all parts of your organization. If you aren’t putting this data to use in your decision-making, you certainly should be. Are your decisions being made based on how you feel about something or are they based on objective data? You may also be able to incorporate this data into your current business structure through a prescriptive analytics approach.
- How are your relationships with other entities within your supply chain? Does everyone experience a mutual benefit from the process? It’s important that all parts of the supply chain understand that you are all working toward a common goal and that everyone will benefit from quality practices.
TQM strategies provide a way to ensure quality standards are met throughout your entire supply chain.
If implemented thoughtfully, a TQM model can help to sustain your business throughout periods of both high demand and low demand in the most efficient ways possible without sacrificing the quality of your services or goods in the process.