Clarity Management Consulting

Posts Tagged ‘Quality’

A FEW BASICS FOR EVALUATING YOUR PROCESS IMPROVEMENT AND QUALITY MANAGEMENT PRACTICES

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

Leadership: Are executives and managers trained in quality and process improvement (Baldrige, Six Sigma, Lean Management and/or Manufacturing, others)?

  • Leaders who are not trained in these areas are not committed to quality and continuous improvement, nor can they create an organization that can effectively implement such systems. This is reflected in the quality of the product or service.

Process Reviews and Documentation: Are there periodic reviews of processes, including business and manufacturing processes? Are these processes properly documented? Is the documentation maintained and updated as needed?

  • Periodic reviews and well-maintained documentation suggest a degree of awareness of needed changes.

Data Management: How is process data handled in terms of collection, analysis, and maintenance, and storage?

  • Data management is the lifeblood of any manufacturing process irrespective of the product type. The same can be said of business processes with relatively high volumes, such as invoicing or call center activities. Access to data will drive the ability to measure and improve process performance. Inadequate collection, analysis, maintenance, or storage of data suggests inattentiveness to quality.

Visibility of Process and Quality Culture: Is there visible evidence of the implementation of process and quality principles?

  • Work areas, particularly in manufacturing, should display visible signs of basic process and quality discipline. Examples include work procedures documented at each workstation and implementation of 5S (Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, Sustain).
  • The absence of such things is a visible sign that the organization lags the industry in basic quality procedures.

Individual Training and Certifications: Have employees been trained in critical quality disciplines?

  • Training and certification in quality disciplines such as Six Sigma and Lean empowers and equips employees. This training is critical for continuous improvement.
  • Such skills are essential to supporting quality and customer satisfaction, and ultimately, shareholder value.

Organizational Certifications: Has the organization earned (and does it maintain) general quality and industry-specific certifications such as ISO 9001 and others?

  • ISO 9001 is a well-known and foundational standard. Documentation should demonstrate the organization’s aptitude for and commitment to the tenets of ISO 9001.
  • Other industry standards may also be in order, such as AS9000, the Aerospace Basic Quality System Standard used by defense and aerospace companies.

Occupational Safety: Does the organization have a history of compliance with OSHA and other standards?

  • Past infractions and/or fines will suggest a degree of risk depending on the severity of the problems. The extent of the financial risk could be mitigated in the eyes of customers by demonstrating that plans are in place to prevent further incidents. This would include training, reviews, inspections, and adequate data to indicate that improvements have taken hold.

Viewing Safety as an Aspect of Quality

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

This week the Bureau of Labor Statistics released some interesting findings for 2009. An Associated Press article reported that the Bureau documented a 17 percent drop in workplace fatalities last year. The article notes that much of the decline can be attributed to a reduction in hours worked as a result of the recession.

This is good news when taken at face value. However, occupational health and safety practitioners know that the number of fatalities can start to climb as the recession subsides and more people join the ranks of the employed. Now is the time to consider new strategies for elevating safety as a primary workplace concern in the competitive business environment. One means of accomplishing this is to provide an entirely different frame of reference for the safety debate.

Safety is, very simply put, a quality concern. An incident is really a defect produced by a failure in a process or work flow. Process and layout designs should reduce the risk of such incidents just as they should reduce the risk of defects. Safety advocates can gain support in their organizations by using this context to discuss workplace concerns.

Lean and Six Sigma techniques can be used to assess and mitigate the risk of injuries and other incidents. These methods are used together to facilitate the improvement of a wide variety of processes. Examples include manufacturing and assembly, medical services, financial transactions, and environmental testing. Other disciplines such as project management can be used in concert with Lean and Six Sigma to ensure the success of improvement efforts.

Lean techniques are used to: (1) identify the portions of a process that create waste, and (2) facilitate the process redesign. The first step is to map the process to understand how it works and to highlight problem areas. In the safety arena, this translates into looking at the process flow and the physical layout to determine where hazardous conditions exist.

Six Sigma encompasses a variety of tools that are used to reduce process errors and quality defects. Six Sigma can also be used to gather and analyze data on safety incidents and dangerous occurrences to evaluate possible causes and improvements. The approach consists of a series of steps known as DMAIIC: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Implement, and Control. These steps address each phase of a process improvement effort, and all are required to evaluate potential sources of errors, defects, or hazards. From there, improvements are recommended, implemented, and evaluated. The tools used in Six Sigma include Statistical Process Control (SPC), design of experiments, and individual statistical analysis tools, to name a few.

Using Lean and Six Sigma to assess hazards and safety incidents provides an opportunity to evaluate these issues in a broader context. Treating incidents as a type of defect or process failure allows workers and managers to see the business impact of safety as well as the personal impact. This analytical, performance-based methodology provides an excellent framework for the due diligence needed to make safety improvements and enhance the overall health of the work environment.

Outsourcing Webinar Coming Up August 12!

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Outsourcing Vendor Selection: Get Schooled on How Not to Get Schooled

Sponsored by the Outsourcing Institute

Date: August 12, 2010
Time: 12:00pm – 1:00pm EDT
Registration: Click Here to Register for the Webinar

Cost: Free

Choosing your outsourcing vendor can be risky business. If you are unfamiliar with proven methods and criteria for selecting your vendor, valuable time and money can be wasted.

Join us on Thursday, August 12, from noon-1pm EDT so you aren’t learning the ins and outs of vendor selection from…the school of hard knocks.

This webinar will focus on the importance of a robust vendor selection process and cover key aspects of vendor selection methodology. Expect to learn the following take-aways:

  • Developing a vendor strategy aligned with your business strategy
  • Understanding the vendor market landscape
  • Developing vendor evaluation criteria
  • Maintaining objectivity
  • Managing risk
  • Avoiding pitfalls in contracting and negotiations

Join Kevin Parikh, CEO of Avasant, as he explores these and other topics while fielding your questions on all things vendor selection along with an expert panel. Panelists include Monica D. Johns, MBA, PMP, President and CEO of Clarity Management Consulting.

Registration:  Click Here to Register for the Webinar

More Great Tweets from Great Tweeps

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

ManufacturingD

Global Sourcing Strategies: Quality vs Price?: Outsourcing spending has con… http://bit.ly/cjJcO7

J&J Recall: A Lapse In Vigilance In a Process-driven Culture

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

Johnson & Johnson consumers complained about berry-flavored Pepcid being mingled with mint-flavored tablets. These complaints should have been the early warning system that would have uncovered failures and trends in managing/controlling the manufacturing process.

This means that process discipline broke down in at least two areas that haven’t been the focal point of our attention:

(1) The method for handling complaints failed. If handled properly, customer complaints could have served as a gold mine for data on where things were going wrong.

(2) The manufacturing system failed. Processes were either broken, not followed, or not maintained.

In both cases, processes are the key. J&J will need to reevaluate its culture to understand how it evolved to the point of allowing vigilance in process management to fall off. This is reminiscent of the theme that surfaced in the Toyota recalls.

A key lesson from the Toyota and J&J stories is this: companies have to manage the basics. Neglecting them is not an option. The cultural attributes that enabled success must be maintained and nurtured. Both of these companies have a reputation for keeping an eye on their processes. They know that processes do not manage themselves. It will take a lot of digging to find the root of the underlying cultural shift that created these issues.

Quality Still Reigns

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

Quality of products and services remains a major concern among retail and business customers, particularly in the current economic environment. This includes initial quality as well as quality of after-sale customer service. It is critical to ensuring customer retention in an environment where competitive threats proliferate, seemingly at the speed of light.

As the American Society for Quality (ASQ) noted in its Future of Quality Study, perfect quality is not the outcome of chance. In the same way that a company deliberately plans for manufacturing circuit boards, managing call centers, or conducting financial operations, it must deliberately plan for managing quality. Companies must continually improve rather than thinking that they have arrived. The Toyota and Johnson & Johnson recalls have taught us that leaders must manage quality with relentless attention to detail.

This vigilance must be ongoing and must permeate the entire organization. Leaders need to address quality at each step of the process. Engineering must create designs that will result in fewer failures. Materials management must insist on standards of purity for raw materials. Purchasing must select suppliers that have stellar quality programs and performance, and then they must hold these suppliers accountable.

The companies that master the skills of pinpointing and addressing quality issues in each phase of product/service delivery will rise to the top and be able to compete in the years to come.

Prioritizing Product Enhancements vs. Product Development

Monday, July 26th, 2010

I recently responded to a question on LinkedIn concerning the need to prioritize new development activities versus making enhancements to existing offerings. Clearly, new products or services will lack credibility if existing offerings are not performing up to customer expectations.

Organizations must determine how much effort to devote to improving existing offerings before moving on to developing new ones if the same resources are used for both. In this situation, there should be an upper limit on the effort devoted to improvements to avoid sacrificing critical work needed for new development. Many large organizations maintain larger staffs to minimize this particular resource constraint. In any case, such decisions should flow out of an organization’s product/service strategy.

Developers should survey users to get feedback/data on how well current offerings are being received. That way they can make informed decisions instead of guessing about user perceptions. This can be done using simple online surveys that are not time-consuming to generate or respond to.

Identifying Waste and Standing out as a Project Manager

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

I recently saw some interesting questions on LinkedIn. I captured two of these questions in today’s blog post.

Question 1: “How does management create an environment where people are inspired and motivated to identify waste and continuously make process improvements?”

In my view, leaders have to demonstrate that they are willing to make process improvement and waste reduction principles operational. This is done in several ways. Here are two examples: (1) Organizations have to be structured and measured in such a way that allows waste to be uncovered and dealt with. This means breaking down walls or silos as they are called in some companies. (2) The CEO must lead by example and reward the right behavior. In addition, they must make sure their staffs do likewise.

Item (2) could and should mean changing the way variable compensation is handled. I am of the opinion that everyone should have a portion of her or his compensation driven by quality in the field and customer satisfaction. Both of these metrics benefit from an organization’s ability to eliminate waste and improve processes. Good marks in these areas drive sales, especially repeat purchases. When companies perform poorly in these areas, they are really failing to serve the customer, which means they are not living up to their mission.

Question 2: What do you do to “stand out” as a project manager?

I think of this from the standpoint of the customer’s need. When I hire a consultant to do some marketing or editing tasks, I do it to relieve some of my pain, namely, the pain of time constraints. I choose service providers because I know that I am going to be better off with them than without them. I also believe that I will be delighted with the end result, particularly the quality of the service or product.

Why should I assume that my clients would feel any differently?

The client believes they are going to be better off by having me on the team. My work should help them get out of pain into relief, then into being satisfied with my work, then into being delighted with the end result.

The key driver in this is that customers hire me to relieve their pain. From a project management standpoint, this means demonstrating that (1) I am progressing, (2) things are under control, and (3) they are going to achieve their goals. That’s why I’m there.