Six Sigma is a methodology aimed at performance improvement by reducing the number of defect to3.4 or few defects per million items produced and a subsequent increase in profits and decrease in costs. It mainly targets to remove the obstacles in a process which are resulting in defects.

Total Quality Management abbreviated as TQM, is generally associated with deployment maintenance and development of organisation for various business processes which are carried out. It focuses on maintaining desirable quality standards as well as aims to cause an incremental change in the quality of the processes. TQM tries to integrate all the departments with collaboration for improving overall quality.

Both Six sigma and TQM are Quality Improvement Systems which seek to reduce defects and improve the quality of processes. There is a very thin line of difference between Six Sigma and total quality management which is why many business managers and professionals end up getting confused regarding which approach i.e. whether Six Sigma and TQM would be the most appropriate for improving the quality.

Where does the difference lie?
There is only a little difference between Six Sigma and TQM as both of them are based on quality improvements and reduction of defects. The main difference between Six Sigma and TQM lies is in their approach, focus and scope.

While TQM is more of a conformance to internal quality standards, Six Sigma has a more holistic approach that focuses on reducing the defects and thereby improving quality. It is quite possible that the end result derived by both the approaches might be very similar or exactly equal yet the difference is how these processes are carried out.

Another basis that distinguishes both Six Sigma and TQM from each other is the focus. While TQM concentrates on goals which are quantitative in nature and related to individual departments, its ultimate focus is customer satisfaction. It approaches the problem more collectively and collaboratively.

On the other hand, Six Sigma utilizes the efforts of many departments. It is a data driven and statistical approach which measures and analyses data to determine the amount of defects leading to degraded quality of a process.

According to TQM,quality is defined as process meeting the standards established by the company but Six Sigma defines the quality with the process having minimum amount of defects thereby eliminating as much defects as possible.

Six Sigma projects require the skills of dedicated and well-trained professionals which are generally certified as Black Belt or Green Belt whereas TQM projects are usually a part-time activity which is taken up by managers who are not solely dedicated to TQM as it is a less complicated process than Six Sigma.

When Six Sigma is compared with Total Quality Management, it is known to deliver more effective and better results as it is a new form of approach over the conventional approach of TQM. The process of Six Sigma is more accurate and result oriented.

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