To ensure quality in your environment you need to constantly improve.
Continuous improvement is measuring key quality and other process indices in all areas, and taking actions to improve them. These indices could include process outputs, customer satisfaction scores, design errors, warranty returns, or any of a number of other measures used to characterize a business process.
At the end of the day, the objective of continuous improvement is to make the process better such that:
Customer satisfaction increases while the cost of attaining this increased customer satisfaction decreases.
This is very easy to say, yet very hard to achieve.
Let’s take a quick look at the Continuous Improvement Approach:
The path outlined above provides a good road map for realizing continuous improvement.
The continuous improvement process begins by defining an organization’s current quality status and ends with the implementation of a defined Upgrade.
As you can see, Measure is the critical stage here and this is where a sound monitoring strategy gets into the game.
The major benefits of performance measures can be grouped and discussed under the headings pictured in the image above. Let’s look at the first 3 steps:
1. Define Current Status
This can be addressed from any of several perspectives, including the number of defects, the cost of defects, customer satisfaction indices, and perhaps other indices. The measurement indices used to determine an organization’s quality status are unique to the type of business, and frequently, to the organization itself.
2. Define Objectives
When pursuing continuous improvement, an organization should base its quality improvement objectives on a realistic appraisal of what the organization, with its available resources, is capable of attaining.
Establishing unrealistically high continuous improvement objectives invites failure, and that can have a demotivating effect. It’s better to set modest improvement goals at first so that a few successes can be realized. These initial successes will help others in the organization buy in to the continuous improvement philosophy.
The important goal here is to convert objectives into actions, and this statement brings us directly to the following step.
3. Define Processes
Measurement is also fundamental for the detection of the process that needs an Improvement Plan.
To achieve continuous improvements in a process, you should take steps to clarify or limit the human inputs and cut off any unnecessary actions.
Take into consideration that to achieve Quality, you will have to reduce sources of variability.
Fully 85 percent of an organization’s quality deficiencies are due to the variability induced by process problems, and not by workmanship (Deming). Once again, you need the right KPI to measure these.
Through the adoption of a good Continuous Improvement Strategy based on quality measures and good KPIs, you can finally stop the blame game when things go wrong and focus on eliminating Process deficiencies and minimizing variability.
This is the only path to preventing future defects.