Developing a quality improvement taxonomy

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Virginia Tech


Total Quality Management (TQM) has become a popular term in quality improvement management. Many organizations, however, frequently implement quality tools that are not well coordinated with the established quality principles or the managerial decisions and actions. This research focuses on studying three major quality management components: quality philosophies, interventions, and tools. The primary desired outcome of this research is to improve the understanding of TQM implementation.

The means to accomplish this desired outcome included reviewing quality improvement philosophies of Deming, Juran, Feigenbaum, Crosby, and Ishikawa, and conducting multiple case studies. The eight organizations vary in their organizational type (service or manufacturing), years of experience in their TQM efforts, and their sizes (number of employees). The case studies involved interviewing the quality managers and described how they define and implement TQM.

A quality improvement taxonomy, a two-dimensional matrix, is a product developed as a result of this study. The first dimension of the taxonomy describes the quality interventions--the organizational planned changes for improving quality, which are categorized by six quality checkpoints: management of upstream systems, incoming quality assurance, in-process quality management, outgoing quality assurance, proactive assurance of customer satisfaction, and the overall quality management process. The second dimension lists seventeen supporting quality management tools. They include tools such as the Input/Output Analysis, Quality Function Deployment, Competitive Benchmarking, and Statistical Process Control. Organizations can use this quality improvement taxonomy to communicate the TQM concept and to improve coordination of quality management tools with the overall TQM implementation decisions and actions.