Main Steps to Improve Manufacturing Quality

There is no better cost to eliminate than the cost of poor quality.

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Good managers seek to contain costs in the manufacturing environment. There is no better cost to eliminate than the cost of poor quality. Scrap material and lost labor hours add no value to the operation.

In order to best eliminate these wastes, a strategic approach to quality improvement is essential. By following these five steps, quality can be improved in a meaningful, sustainable way.

Use a team mindset

Quality won’t be sustainably improved by individuals. To really make lasting and meaningful change in manufacturing processes, it will take a team-based approach. By involving multiple disciplines in the search for improved quality, a variety of perspectives is obtained. Also of importance is knowledge of process history. Why is the process the way it is today? There must be a reason or cause, and that reason should be considered so as not to repeat a problem of days gone by. By considering history and group perspective, solid improvements can be obtained.

Define quality from the customer perspective

Too often, staff within a manufacturing environment want to make a product “better” but don’t really know what better means. With additional cost, we almost always can make a product better. But is additional cost desirable by the customer even if it means better product life? Someone in the organization should serve as the customer advocate. Typically this voice can come from the sales or marketing departments. Use the customers’ perspective to define what the best-in-class product would be and meet those requirements while minimizing cost.

Develop understanding of the Cost of Quality

The cost to fix a defect in the field once it reaches a customer is dramatically higher than the cost to fix the source of the problem before it is created. It is essential that the manufacturing staff be trained to understand the cost multipliers involved with warranty repair or replacement and cost of damaged reputation. Once the staff take this perspective, a desire to find root cause for problem solving is inherently developed.

Solve problems completely

All too often, manufacturing quality improvements fix the symptoms of failure rather than the root cause. This can be done by adding quality inspection steps or rework stations that make it more efficient to fix defects. Instead, a true understanding of root cause should be developed within the teams. When teams develop the ability (through Ishikawa, fault tree, or five-why analysis) to ascertain root cause of defects in the manufacturing process along with a “killer test” that verifies the ability to turn-on and turn-off the problem in the manufacturing process, true solutions to problems will be created that will not allow the return of the issue.

Employ strong process discipline

Throughout the quality improvement process, it is essential that strong process discipline is employed. Depending on the product that is being manufactured, deviation without proper team cooperation and anticipation of the change could have dire quality repercussions. While the organization should avoid cumbersome bureaucracy that inhibits innovation, it is essential that some structure be employed to maintain consistency and an understanding of the way the product is produced during that time period so that root cause can also be identified later if new problems arise as a consequence of the change.

By following these above steps, good management teams can develop great quality programs within their organizations.

source: http://www.industryweek.com

Involvement of People

People at all levels are the essence of an organization and their full involvement enables their abilities to be used for the organization’s benefit.

Key Benefits :

Applying the principle of involvement of people typically leads to :

• Motivated, committed and involved people within the organization
• Innovation and creativity in furthering the organization’s objectives
• People being accountable for their own performance

• People eager to participate in and contribute to continual improvement.
• People understanding the importance of their contribution and role in    the organization
• People identifying constraints to their performance
• People accepting ownership of problems and their responsibility for solving them
• People evaluating their performance against their personal goals and objectives
• People actively seeking opportunities to enhance their competence, knowledge and experience
• People freely sharing knowledge and experience
• People openly discussing problems and issues.

How to Select Quality Vendor

How to Select Quality Vendor

contact:  kris@themanagementsystems.comchoose-person

The vendor selection process can be a very complicated and emotional undertaking if you don’t know how to approach it from the very start. Here are five steps to help you select the right vendor for your business. This guide will show you how to analyze your business requirements, search for prospective vendors, lead the team in selecting the winning vendor and provide you with insight on contract negotiations and avoiding negotiation mistakes.

1. Analyze the Business Requirements

Before you begin to gather data or perform interviews, assemble a team of people who have a vested interest in this particular vendor selection process. The first task that the vendor selection team needs accomplish is to define, in writing, the product, material or service that you are searching for a vendor. Next define the technical and business requirements. Also, define the vendor requirements. Finally, publish your document to the areas relevant to this vendor selection process and seek their input. Have the team analyze the comments and create a final document. In summary:

-Assemble an Evaluation Team

-Define the Product, Material or Service

-Define the Technical and Business Requirements

-Define the Vendor Requirements

-Publish a Requirements Document for Approval

2. Vendor Search

Now that you have agreement on the business and vendor requirements, the team now must start to search for possible vendors that will be able to deliver the material, product or service. The larger the scope of the vendor selection process the more vendors you should put on the table. Of course, not all vendors will meet your minimum requirements and the team will have to decide which vendors you will seek more information from. Next write a Request for Information (RFI) and send it to the selected vendors. Finally, evaluate their responses and select a small number of vendors that will make the “Short List” and move on to the next round. In summary:

-Compile a List of Possible Vendors

-Select Vendors to Request More Information From

-Write a Request for Information (RFI)

-Evaluate Responses and Create a “Short List” of Vendors

3. Request for Proposal (RFP) and Request for Quotation (RFQ)

The business requirements are defined and you have a short list of vendors that you want to evaluate. It is now time to write a Request for Proposal or Request for Quotation. Which ever format you decide, your RFP or RFQ should contain the following sections:

-Submission Details

-Introduction and Executive Summary

-Business Overview & Background

-Detailed Specifications

-Assumptions & Constraints

-Terms and Conditions

-Selection Criteria

4. Proposal Evaluation and Vendor Selection

The main objective of this phase is to minimize human emotion and political positioning in order to arrive at a decision that is in the best interest of the company. Be thorough in your investigation, seek input from all stakeholders and use the following methodology to lead the team to a unified vendor selection decision:

Preliminary Review of All Vendor Proposals

Record Business Requirements and Vendor Requirements

Assign Importance Value for Each Requirement

Assign a Performance Value for Each Requirement

Calculate a Total Performance Score

Select a the Winning Vendor

5. Contract Negotiation Strategies

The final stage in the vendor selection process is developing a contract negotiation strategy. Remember, you want to “partner” with your vendor and not “take them to the cleaners.” Review your objectives for your contract negotiation and plan for the negotiations be covering the following items:

-List Rank Your Priorities Along With Alternatives

-Know the Difference Between What You Need and What You Want

-Know Your Bottom Line So You Know When to Walk Away

-Define Any Time Constraints and Benchmarks

-Assess Potential Liabilities and Risks

-Confidentiality, non-compete, dispute resolution, changes in requirements

-Do the Same for Your Vendor (i.e. Walk a Mile in Their Shoes)

6. Contract Negotiation Mistakes

The smallest mistake can kill an otherwise productive contract negotiation process. Avoid these ten contract negotiation mistakes and avoid jeopardizing an otherwise productive contract negotiation process.

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http://operationstech.about.com/od/vendorselection/a/VendorSelectionHub.htm

Is Your Management Style Effective?

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Is Your Management Style Effective?
When it comes to management, half the battle is knowing when to use the right management style. Some styles tend to focus on people, while others gravitate toward a specific project or product. The management style that ends up working in a particular situation depends on your people skills, knowledge, resources available to you, and the results you’d like to achieve.
It’s important to choose the right management style for each situation. Without styles that align with certain circumstances, you may find your business moving more slowly and making costly mistakes.

Communication Management Skills

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Communication Management Skills:

A few tricks to improving your communication skills are:

  • Practice active listening. Try to look the person speaking in the eyes and think only about the words that they are speaking.
  • Speak slowly and ask questions to test whether the listening party understands what is being communicated.
  • When writing, always write a first draft and edit the draft into a final copy after asking whether the purpose of your communication is clear and understandable.
  • When you find yourself caught up in your own thoughts, try to relax and “Watch” the thinker thinking those thoughts. You are not your thoughts. You are greater than your thinking.

Approaches to Success Strategy:

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In a for-profit company, for which competition and profitability are important, your goals will differ from those of a nonprofit or government department. Likewise, objectives for a department or team will have a different scope from objectives for your organization as a whole.
For example, and depending on scope and circumstances, you may want to develop strategies to:
Increase profitability.
Gain more market share.
Increase approval ratings, or boost customer satisfaction.
Complete a project under budget.
To determine your strategy, you must understand fully the internal and external environmental factors that affect you. With that understanding, you can identify your clear advantages and use these to be successful. From there, you can make informed choices and implement your strategy effectively.
So, strategy creation follows a three-stage process:
Analyzing the context in which you’re operating.
Identifying strategic options.
Evaluating and selecting the best options.
We’ll look at this process, and review some useful tools that can help you develop your strategy.
Stage 1: Analyzing Your Context and Environment
In this first stage, you ensure that you fully understand yourself and your environment. Do the following:
Analyze your organization
Firstly, examine your resources, liabilities, capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. A SWOT Analysis is a great tool for uncovering what you do well and where you have weaknesses, providing that you use it rigorously. It’s much easier to achieve your objectives when your strategy uses your strengths without exposing your weaknesses.
Also, look at your Core Competencies. These highlight your unique strengths, and help you think about how you can set yourself apart from your competitors.
Analyze your environment
Now you need to examine your current operating environment to predict where things are moving. Are there exciting opportunities that you should pursue? What future scenarios are likely in your industry, and how will these impact the work that you do?
PEST Analysis, Porter’s Diamond, and Porter’s Five Forces are great starting points for analyzing your environment. They show where you have a strong position within the larger environment, and where you may have issues.
As you prepare to create your strategy, make sure that you’re working in a way that’s aligned with changes in your operating environment, rather than working against them. These external factors are often beyond your control, so if you pursue a strategy that requires a change in one of these elements, you may have a long, exhausting, unprofitable battle ahead of you.

Tip:
A TOWS matrix can help you with your internal and external analysis. This framework combines everything you learned in your SWOT Analysis (TOWS is SWOT in reverse), and then applies it to developing a strategy that either maximizes strengths and opportunities, or minimizes weaknesses and threats.

Analyze your customers and stakeholders
Your strategy defines how you’ll win, and winning is typically framed by how well you satisfy your customers. For-profit companies must keep their customers and shareholders happy. Governments, nonprofits, and project teams all have other stakeholders to satisfy as well. Strategy creation must consider these needs.
Identify your clients and stakeholders. What do your clients want? And who are the key stakeholders in your success? A Stakeholder Analysis will help you uncover these needs and preferences.
Also, look at your market in detail. Answer key questions such as “How is our market segmented?”, “What subpopulations can we reach cost-effectively?” and “What is our optimal Marketing Mix?”
Analyze your competitors
In a traditional for-profit company, you must understand how your products compare with competitors’ products, and what your competitors’ competencies are. How easy, or difficult, is it to enter your market? What alternatives do customers have?
Our article on USP Analysis helps you identify ways in which you can compete effectively. You’ll also find many useful tools that can help you understand competitors in our article on Competitive Intelligence .
Non-profits, departmental teams and projects have competitors too. Other projects and teams within the department compete for money and other resources. Therefore, you must prove that you can add value, meet objectives, and contribute to organizational success.
Stage 2: Identifying Strategic Options
In Stage 1, you developed an understanding of how your organization or team fits within the context of the internal and external environments. Now it’s time to think about the different things that you could do to create a clear advantage, and meet your objectives. Here are some fundamental activities that can help you make this decision.
Brainstorm options
Use creativity tools like Brainstorming, Reverse Brainstorming and Starbursting to explore projects that you could run to develop competitive advantage. Guide your brainstorming with reference to the organization’s mission statement, but, depending on your role in the organization, consider how far you should be constrained by this.
Examine opportunities and threats
Your SWOT Analysis identified some of the main opportunities and threats you face. Using this as a starting point, brainstorm additional ways to maximize your opportunities, minimize your threats, or perhaps even turn your threats into opportunities.
Solve problems
A problem-solving approach can also help at this stage. If your problem is that you’re not achieving your goals, ask yourself how you can ensure that you do. (If everyone in your industry finds it hard to deal with a particular problem, then you may gain a competitive edge by dealing with it.)
For example, if you want to increase your customer satisfaction ratings in an industry plagued by poor customer relations, your starting position is “low satisfaction.” Brainstorm why this is the case, and create strategic options that would increase satisfaction. Tools like Root Cause Analysis, the 5 Whys, and Appreciative Inquiry can give you some interesting new perspectives on these problems.
Stage 3: Evaluating and Selecting Strategic Options
The final stage is to evaluate strategic options in detail, and select the ones that you want to pursue.
Evaluate options
By this stage, you’ve probably identified a range of good projects that you could run. You must now evaluate these to choose the best strategic options. Consider every option you’ve identified, but don’t make a final judgment until you’ve completed your assessment.
Start by evaluating each option in the light of the contextual factors you identified in Stage 1. What do these tell you about each option?
Techniques like Risk Analysis, Failure Modes and Effects Analysis and Impact Analysis can help you spot the possible negative consequences of each option, which can be very easy to miss. Make sure that you explore these thoroughly.
Many options will be analyzed on a financial basis. Here, techniques like Cost-Benefit Analysis, Break-Even Analysis , use of Net Present Values (NPVs) and Internal Rates of Return (IRRs), and Decision Trees are helpful.
Grid Analysis is particularly helpful for bringing together financial and non-financial decision criteria. It helps you weight individual decision criteria, and consider subjective features – like team fit and the likelihood of team buy-in – as well as objective, tangible factors like cost and return on investment.
Choose the best way forward
With your evaluation complete, you now must choose the best strategic option or strategic options, making sure that you don’t choose so many options that you spread your resources too thinly.
Check your ideas for consistency with your organization’s Vision, Mission and Values, and update these if necessary. It’s easy to forget about these critical elements during strategic planning, so ensure that what you want to “win” is something that contributes towards the organization’s overall purpose.
Check your assumptions using the Ladder of Inference . This helps you confirm the soundness of the reasoning process used to develop your strategy.

Tip:
There’s a lot of debate and disagreement about the best way of developing a strategy. Don’t be afraid to adapt this approach to your own, specific circumstances!

Implementing Strategy
It’s no good developing a strategy if you don’t implement it successfully, and this is where many people go astray.
See our articles on VMOST Analysis and the Balanced Scorecard for ways of bridging the gap between strategy development and implementation, and our Project Management section for the techniques you’ll need to use to implement strategy successfully.

Key Points
Your strategy tells you how you’ll achieve success, no matter how that success is defined. And whether you’re developing a strategy at the personal, team or organizational level, the process is as important as the outcome.
Identify your unique capabilities, and understand how to use these to your advantage while minimizing threats. The process and tools identified above will help you identify a variety of potential strategies for success, so that you can ultimately choose the one that’s right for you.

http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/developing-strategy.htm

Six tips for improving your client relationships.

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1. Be glad your client doesn’t know everything

There’s a famous quote, “The greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.” When dealing with clients you might consider clueless, you can be frustrated by their lack of knowledge or you can appreciate the fact that if your clients knew more, you might not have nearly as much work.

2. Communicate clearly, communicate often

Clients often complain about poor communication, and while some clients desire more communication because they’re uncomfortable or anxious, the reality is that service providers frequently do drop the ball in keeping clients informed.

While communication is a nuanced subject and each client relationship is different, erring on the side of overcommunicating is usually better than erring on the side of undercommunicating. Remember: client experience matters. The most successful service providers aren’t just delivering top-notch work product, they’re delivering a superb client experience — something that typically requires clear, consistent communication.

3. Be clear about what you need

The old adage “A closed mouth doesn’t get fed” is particularly relevant when it comes to managing clients. Not sure about scope and need a more detailed specification, for instance? Don’t be shy or lazy: ask for it!

Unfortunately, many service providers shoot themselves in the foot by not asking for what they need up front and instead scrambling every time they need something they don’t have, an obviously more stressful approach that can sour perception of the relationship.

4. Establish up front what you do and don’t do

While clients may dream of finding jack-of-all-trades service providers who can handle all of their needs, chances are you don’t do everything. Some nightmare clients are nightmare clients because they don’t quite understand this.

The distinction between a web designer and a web developer, for instance, may be obvious if you’re a designer or developer, but it may not be to your clients. Because of this, it’s important to establish up front what is it you do and don’t do, and maintain boundaries as necessary to prevent the type of role creep that can be the cause of much frustration.

5. Balance money with sanity

In some, your worst clients may also be your best clients. Example: one of your clients might be a big company that’s disorganized, hard to communicate with and expects you to fill in the blanks, but pays well and doesn’t mind paying more to have you “deal with it.”

If you don’t feel that the money, however, adequately compensates for the lack of organization, poor communication and “you figure it out” approach, you’ll need to consider whether you can really afford to maintain the relationship without a change in the rules of engagement.

6. Don’t be afraid to break up

Why are stories of nightmare clients so common? One reason is that when push comes to shove, many service providers, despite their angst, are unwilling to turn their nightmare clients into nightmare former clients.

Business Problem Solving

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Business Problem Solving:
When you’re solving business problems, it’s all-too-easy easy to skip over important steps in the problem-solving process, meaning that you can miss good solutions, or, worse still, fail to identify the problem correctly in the first place.
One way to prevent this happening is by using the Simplex Process. This powerful step-by-step tool helps you identify and solve problems creatively and effectively. It guides you through each stage of the problem-solving process, from finding the problem to implementing a solution. This helps you ensure that your solutions are creative, robust and well considered.
We’ll now look at each step:
1. Problem Finding
2. Fact-Finding
3. Problem Definition
4. Idea Finding
5. Selection and Evaluation
6. Planning
7. Sell Idea
8. Action

By Source Management Systems Consulting Tagged
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