Six Sigma or Total Quality Management? Rob Thompson evaluates...
Total Quality Management (TQM) is a structured system for satisfying internal and external customers and suppliers by integrating the business environment, continuous improvement, and breakthroughs with development, improvement, and maintenance cycles while changing organizational culture. TQM aims for quality principles to be applied broadly throughout an organization or set of business processes.
Comparison with Six Sigma
TQM and Six Sigma have a number of similarities including the following:
• A customer orientation and focus
• A process view of work
• A continuous improvement mindset
• A goal of improving all aspects and functions of the organizations
• Data-based decision making
• Benefits depend highly on effective implementation
Differences between TQM and Six Sigma
• Six Sigma focuses on prioritizing and solving specific problems which are selected based on the strategic priorities of the company and the problems which are causing the most defects whereas TQM employs a more broad based application of quality measures to all of the company’s business processes.
• TQM tends to apply quality initiatives within specific departments whereas Six Sigma is cross functional meaning that in penetrates every department which is involved in a particular business process that is subject to a Six Sigma project.
• TQM provides less methodology in terms of the deployment process whereas Six Sigma’s DMAIC framework provides a stronger platform for deployment and execution. For example, Six Sigma has a much stronger focus on measurement and statistics which helps the company define and achieve specific objectives.
Combining TQM with Six Sigma
Six Sigma is complementary to TQM because it can help to prioritize issues within a broader TQM program and provides the DMAIC framework which can be used to meet TQM objectives.