Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fast Quality

With advances in technology the rate of change is accelerating at a rapid pace. Real challenge is to keep pace with rapid changes and ensure fast quality to meet or exceed customer expectations.

One of the way to achieve fast quality is to remove clutter and reduce complexity from the system. Let us redefine the KISS principle as "Keep It Simple System". To this end, we need to critically look at systems and processes. Use the Supplier-Input-Process-Output-Customer (SIPOC) diagram to capture processes "as is" and identify all the bottlenecks.Then embark on a journey of continuous improvement. Remember to keep customer requirements in mind. Otherwise, lot of activities are happening, but it does not add value to customers.

I want to share an interesting case from the ASQ Certification Process. To give you the context, I took the ASQ Certified Quality Engineer (CQE) Exam in December 1988. At that time the promised result notification interval was 8 weeks. To my dismay, I received my results in 13 weeks. Working at AT&T Bell Laboratories as an Internal Quality Consultant, I decided to volunteer for the ASQ Certification Board. I joined in 1989 for a five-year term. In 1990, we began a journey of continuous improvement for the Certification Process. We formed a small Process Management Team and used AT&T's Process Quality Management and Improvement (PQMI) Guidelines and Motorola's Cycle-Time Reduction methodology.

After all the bottlenecks from the Certification Process were identified and remedied, the exam result notification interval dropped from 13 weeks in 1988 to 3 weeks in 1993. Now fast forward to 2012 ... the current exam result notification interval is around 1 week. For further details about this cycle-time reduction case, refer to the November 1993 Quality Progress article "ASQC Certification Committee Practices What It Preaches" (pages 99-103), co-authored by M. K. Vora, S. M. Harthun, and R. G. Kingen.

In summary, basic quality tools and techniques when deployed systematically will help us achieve Fast Quality.

I welcome your thoughts on this topic.