Total quality management (TQM) is a project management technique or strategy that is implemented to assure that an awareness of quality is embedded in all phases of the project from conception to completion. Used in industries from manufacturing to aerospace, total quality management requires the careful and consistent review of all phases of a project, and the coordinated effort of all involved. Communication is key to the process. Standards must be developed, procedures well defined, and all involved must follow strict adherence to the plan to assure its success.
The first paradigm of the strategy, “total,” calls for an integrated system of dependent variables. Here, planing is of the utmost importance. In the planing stage obstacles to success can be identified, confronted, and conquered. Procedures for inspection, evaluating, reporting, and rectifying anomalies are established that will assure consistency and quality will be developed and implemented. All parties involved, from workers to management must become familiar with the process and committed to its success.
The second paradigm of the total quality management (TQM) strategy, “quality,” requires that once a standard has been established it must never be violated. This necessitates a certain amount of cross training, so that one party along the chain of project management can spot the errors that might have occurred at a prior stage in the process. This not only assures quality, but also tends to inspire greater commitment and conscientiousness among the individuals involved.
The third paradigm of total quality management (TQM) is management itself. In order to insure success, the strategy must function as a cohesive element that unites the individual efforts of all involved. The system must be managed properly in order to insure the quality of the strategy itself. Therefore, it is the role of project management role to oversee the training of all involved in the process, to ascertain whether or not the process is being strictly adhered to, and to develop and implement corrective measures designed to rectify any problems that might divert the strategy from its ultimate goal: Total quality management.
This term is defined in the 3rd edition of the PMBOK but not in the 4th.