Comparison of Six Sigma and Total Quality Management

Both Six Sigma and Total Quality Management are effective tools for quality management but a thin line of difference does exist between them. Although the methodologies and procedures involved in both the two appear quite similar but there are certain major differences.

Six-Sigma is a relatively newer concept than Total Quality Management but not exactly its replacement. The basic difference between Total Quality Management and Six Sigma is that TQM delivers superior quality manufactured goods whereas six sigma on the other hand results in better results. Total Quality management refers to continuous effort by employees to ensure high quality products. The process of Six Sigma incorporates many small changes in the systems to ensure effective results and better customer satisfaction.

Total Quality Management involves designing and developing new systems and processes and ensures effective coordination among various departments. New Processes are developed based on various customer feedbacks and researches.

The main focus of Total quality management is to maintain existing quality standards whereas Six Sigma primarily focuses on making small necessary changes in the processes and systems to ensure high quality.

The process of Total quality management does reach to a saturation level after a certain period of time. After reaching the saturation stage, no further improvements in quality can be made. Six Sigma on the other hand seldom reaches the saturation stage by initiating a next level quality process.

The process of Total quality management involves improvement in existing policies and procedures to ensure high quality. Six-Sigma focuses on improving quality by minimizing and eventually eliminating defects from the system. The process of total Quality management ensures that every single member associated with the organization is working towards the improvement of existing processes, systems, services and work culture for long term quality products/services. Six Sigma, on the other hand focuses on first identifying and eventually removing various defects and obstacles which might come in the way of organization’s success. In a layman’s language total quality management emphasizes on improving the existing policies and making necessary changes in the systems to ensure superior quality products and services. Organizations practicing Six Sigma are focused on removing errors and defects to ensure high quality products.

Total Quality management is a less complicated process than Six Sigma. Six-Sigma involves specially trained individuals whereas total quality management does not require extensive training. The process of Six Sigma creates special levels for employees who are only eligible to implement the same. Employees trained for Six Sigma are often certified as “Green Belts” or “Black Belts” depending on their level of proficiency. Six-Sigma requires participation of only certified professionals whereas total quality management can be referred to a part time activity which does not require any special training. Six-Sigma can be implemented by dedicated and well trained professionals.

Six-Sigma is known to deliver better and effective results as compared to total quality management. The process of Six Sigma is based on customer feedbacks and is more accurate and result oriented. Customer feedbacks play an important role in Six Sigma. Experts predict that six sigma will outshine total quality management in due course of time.


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