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Comparing TQM with ISO Standards Compare & Contrast Essay

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Updated: Jun 21st, 2019

Total Quality Management (TQM) and ISO standards (ISO 9000 series) have had substantial success in terms of acceptance in organisations worldwide, with available literature demonstrating that these continuous improvement approaches are often misinterpreted as being equivalent and addressing the same requirements (Han & Chen, 2007).

The address this concern, the present paper dwells on comparing and contrasting the two approaches.

TQM has been defined in the literature as a management philosophy aimed at seeking excellence through organisation-wide continuous improvement, while the ISO 9000 is a series of quality assurance standards that have been developed by the International Organisation for Standardisation in Geneva with the view to ensuring that a basic quality system is in place to enhance and facilitate trade (Han & Chen, 2007; Oakland, 2003).

Consequently, the goals of the two approaches differ as TQM is to a large extent focussed on improving overall quality in an organisation with the view to meeting customer satisfaction, while ISO standards are generally focused on ensuring that a basic quality system is in place to be adopted by organisations for the sole purpose of facilitating trade.

The underlying principles of TQM include customer satisfaction, supplier satisfaction and continuous improvement of business processes, whereas those of ISO standards (ISO 9000 series) include customer focus, leadership, involvement of people, systematic approach to management, continual improvement, factual approach to decision making, and mutually beneficial supplier relationships (Oakland, 2003; Su, Tsai, & Hsu, 2010).

In a way, therefore, both approaches stress the importance of customers, suppliers, and continuous improvement of business processes; however, TQM has mechanisms in place to ensure these variables are achieved in an organisation’s attempt to enhance overall quality, whereas ISO 9000 registration does not in any way guarantee that the product or service quality of registered organisations is better than, or superior to, that of unregistered organisations (Han & Chen, 2007; Mezher, 2000).

Moving on, it is evident that although both TQM and ISO standards seek for continual improvement of business processes, the former largely deals with customer satisfaction and worker effectiveness geared towards increasing organisational competitiveness and cutting costs, while the latter requires business organisations to document their plans, specifications, procedures and activities with the view to eliminating wasteful and careless practices for optimal efficiency and effectiveness (Mezher, 2000).

Consequently, an organisation should first of all achieve ISO standardisation to achieve organisational efficiency and effectiveness, before embarking on improving its responsiveness to customer and supplier needs through TQM with the view to maximising the competitiveness of the organisation (Su et al., 2010).

Lastly, although both TQM and ISO standards are grounded on more or less similar principles and dimensions, available literature demonstrates that TQM implementation leads to better results in more aspects than ISO 9000 certification, leading scholars and practitioners to project an orientation that ISO standards constitute a first stepping stone towards the internalisation of a TQM system (Mezher, 2000).

However, it is generally felt that the inability of ISO standards to achieve better results is grounded on the fact that most ISO 9000 certifications are obtained as a reaction to external pressure (e.g., pressure from customers and suppliers or as a marketing tool, whereas most TQM implementations are triggered by easily identifiable internal processes that could be harnessed to improve quality (Han & Chen, 2007).

Overall, it is acknowledged that ISO standards are not enough for TQM as they deal with the initial requirements necessary for the organisation to achieve efficiency and effectiveness, such as resource management, product realisation and development, measurement, analysis, and continuous improvement.

The TQM is a far more elaborate continuous improvement approach that attempts to optimise the competitiveness of an organisation through organisational excellence and customer satisfaction (Han & Chen, 2007; Oakland, 2003).

References

Han, S.B., & Chen, S.K. (2007). The impact of ISO 9000 on TQM and business performance. Journal of Business and Economic Studies, 13(2), 1-23.

Mezher, T. (2000). The transformation of Lebanese firms from ISO 9000 certified to TQM. Quality Assurance, 8(1), 37-56.

Oakland, J.S. (2003). Total Quality Management: Text with cases (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Butterworth Heinemann.

Su, C.H., Tsai, A., & Hsu, C.L. (2010). The TQM extension: Total customer relationship management. Total Quality Management & Business Excellence, 21(1), 79-92.

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