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What is 'Total Quality Management (TQM)'?


Total Quality Management (TQM) is an approach to improving the effectiveness and flexibility of a business as a whole. It is a quality process which involves every person, at every level, in every department, working together to eliminate errors and to prevent waste. TQM assumes that quality is something that is embedded in all activities that take place within the organisation. As the name suggests, quality is deemed to be a matter of importance for management and, as such, is something that should be managed in a conscious way.

TQM views an organisation as an open system. The raw materials and the parts entering the organisation must have the right quality, as must the products delivered to customers. The quality requirements must be met every time, be it from suppliers, or in the products delivered to customers. Internally, the focus is on how value is added to the products. The organisation must be geared to handle continual improvements, and every single employee is responsible for working out the expected and agreed level of quality. Continual improvement is seen as a core issue, and it has to be built into every action. Furthermore, the production system is considered as a totality, in which each element is linked to others forming a complex whole production system.

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The European Handbook of Management Consultancy, Oak Tree Press, Dublin, Ireland, 1995 (ISBN 1-86076-010-4)

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