Responsibilities

Quality is cyclical. Everyone contributes to the responsibilities

Quality is cyclical. Everyone contributes to the responsibilities

Who is Responsible for Quality?

Just who is responsible for quality; the customer or the processor or the supplier? Dr. Juran said they were all responsible for quality.

Customer Responsibilities

The customer must share in the responsibilities to produce a product that is fit for use. They must:

  • Transmit the needs to the supplier
  • Provide feedback to the supplier
  • Obtain feedback from the supplier

Transmitting the need is fairly clear. Provide accurate information as to specifications, delivery and expected costs. Providing feedback to the supplier is also easy to understand, if the product is unsatisfactory, tell them.

It is also necessary to provide positive feedback. At one company a customer service rep always did a little more for her clients. She would follow up on orders and check on their progress, not just in the MRP system but going out to the factory and making periodic physical checks. Thanks to her efforts more than a few errors were prevented. However, her supervisor had a performance measurement of time taking calls. When the rep was in the factory she wasn’t taking calls. There was no feedback system to her supervisor as to the effectiveness and importance of her actions so it did not appear on her performance reviews. Ultimately the rep was terminated.

The last bullet is one that is normally left out. Some of this comes from the concept “the customer is always right” or as one person put it “he who has the gold rules. The customer has the gold.” We supplied a product to an automotive manufacturer. The specification for the nut placement on the bolt was “8 mm max from the end”. Product shipped to specification. The first shift had been trained to slip on the product over both parts and tighten the nut. This was only possible if the nut had been backed off to the end of the bolt. The second shift slipped the product on one side and later inserted the other side. With the bolt backed off, the product would fall off before the assembly could be completed. Both shifts rejected the parts continually for the nut placement. The customer was furious over our “poor quality” back charging us and threatening to pull the business. They were not interested in hearing the cause of the problem. We were ordered to “fix it!” The fix – we sent our sales staff in once a month on both shifts to train the operators. The issue belonged to the customer they needed a mechanism to receive feedback.

Processor Responsibilities

The people and equipment producing the product are the most common owners of quality. They must:

  • Plan the process to meet the customer needs
  • Control the process to meet the customer needs
  • Improve the process based on customer feedback

This is the focus of most corrective actions and many people end up with the misconception that the processors own the quality responsibilities. This is not true. Quality is everyone’s job.

In my example of the customer service rep being fired for proactively checking in the factory, how many people caught the fact that she was addressing a symptom of poor quality and not the root cause? Since she was finding repeated mistakes in the process which would have produced poor quality parts, she should have gone to the person in charge and pointed out the situation. That should have resulted in root cause analysis and corrective action and she would not have needed to be in the factory.

Supplier Responsibilities

The supplier is the company as a whole that takes and order and provides a good or service. The supplier is also the previous step in the process. It is imperative that the supplier:

  • Knows who are the customers
  • Understands the needs of the customers
  • Avoid creating problems for the customers
  • Obtains feedback from the customers

As a company it is not enough to understand your own product and offer a “take it or leave it” attitude. The world is competitive and someone else is willing to step in and understand the customer’s needs and deliver exactly what they need, when they need it. A supplier must understand how the product is being used and proactively offer goods or services that best fit the customer needs. In the example of the nut position, we did offer to make two part numbers with the only difference being the nut location. The down side was maintaining inventories so the ultimate solution was for our staff to train the customer’s operators. Once we went in and talked to the people using the parts we were able to come up with a solution that avoided a problem for the customer. Did the customer fail to take on the responsibility to train their operators? Yes. Did we step up and solve the customer problem? Yes.

In the case of the internal customer, it is important to know how our product/subassembly/service is used. At one plant, a subassembly was a piece of cord cut to a set length and dropped into a gaylord then shipped across the ocean. At the next step the operator would attach the cord to a hook and wind the cord up, securing it with a rubber-band. As you can imagine the cords were twisted and tangled together and difficult to separate, wasting a great deal of time and frustrating the operator. The ultimate solution was to buy the cord in spools and set up a machine to attach the cord, measure and cut to length and automatically wind it. As an interim step the people cutting the cord would wind and rubber-band it with a tail sticking out to have the hook attached. The time to do the next operation was cut to a fraction of the original time. An interesting by-product was the wound cords took up less space and decreased the shipping cost as well.

Quality is everyone’s responsibility. It is the customer’s responsibility, the processor’s responsibility and the supplier’s responsibility. When each takes their responsibilities and acts on it the overall cost goes down and the quality improves.

Four Ways a Quality Improvement Process Can Fail

 

Is your Quality Improvement Process destined for success or failure?

While reading through the binder I received in 1987 from the Philip Crosby Quality College in Winter Park, FL I came across a section titled ‘Four Ways a Quality Improvement Process Can Fail’. I was expecting something that quality professionals had created fail-safes to prevent. What I found instead was four conditions  that are just as valid today as they were in 1987.

Failure #1 – Lack of Management Attention to the Quality Improvement Process

That’s it. Either management is on-board with a Quality Improvement Process or they are not. It is the reason the Management Review is so critical to the success of ISO 9001 companies. If management is involved in providing resources and determining which projects have what priority than the company is on the right road for a successful Quality Improvement Process.

Failure #2 –  Allowing the Quality Improvement Process to Become a Motivational Program

When the Quality Improvement Process goes from creating real and lasting preventive measures and becomes a method to “get the employees involve” or create “caring” in the employees it will fail. Employees will see through the rhetoric and realize management is not serious or interested. The expectation is the employees will change in some way rather than the system.

Failure #3 -Focusing the Quality Improvement Process Only on Operations

Operations makes the widgets that get sold but the cause of non-conformances can occur in order entry, purchasing, engineering, logistics – any area of the company. That is why ISO 9001 is a quality management system. The whole system must be controlled to be effective. The entire process must be looked at, not just the area where they manufacture a saleable product.

Failure #4 – Allowing the Quality Improvement Process to Become A Problem-Solving Committee

There is a saying, “When you are up to your ears in alligators, it is difficult to remember your original objective was to drain the swamp.” Solving problems is critically important but the problems won’t go away until a systematic review of the entire process occurs. Corrective measures are different from preventive measures.

Thank you to Mr. Crosby for this tool to analyze the Quality Improvement Process. It is just as valid in 2012 as it was 1987.

Sick of the Green Revolution

“If I have one more person tell me I need to make my company Green, I’m going to become politically incorrect.” This statement was made in a CEO round-table meeting and perfectly describes the frustration business owners feel. Sales are down, the economy is questionable and they are being pressured to make an investment because it is the “right thing to do”. The first priority is to stay in business and find a way to make payroll. Getting pressured to make what they perceive as unrealistic investments for a feel-good
moment is not something a wise business owner does.

Unfortunately, they couldn’t be more wrong.

The Start of the Green Revolution

In the early 1990’s, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) created the environmental standard ISO 14000 as a response to conservation initiatives from the 1970’s. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_14000.Unlike the more well known ISO 9000 Quality Standard, ISO 14000 was not required by most clients, for one simple reason, all cost benefits went to the implementer. ISO 9000 allowed clients to eliminate costly auditing staff, supplier audits and incoming inspection. There was a direct benefit to the
client to insist the supplier implement ISO 9000. The benefit for the implementation of ISO 14000 was indirect so many companies did not include it as a requirement to do business with them.

Why Aren’t Business Owners joining the Green Revolution

Suppliers had limited resources and meeting the customer requirements was the first priority. ISO 14000 got lost in the shuffle as few people had time to analyze the standard and realize the cost benefits.

How does ISO 14000 Relate to the Green Revolution?

The purpose of ISO 14000 standard is to create a continuous improvement process to reduce consumption and waste. If a company can make more product using less materials and energy, and has to pay less to process waste, the unit cost of producing their product is reduced. This gives the business owner the option of increasing profits or reducing price and increasing sales. Still business
owners did not see ISO 14000 as something they wanted to pursue. To make it more palatable to the average business owner, ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 have been gradually changing to make them so similar they can be implemented through thesame process and systems. Companies already meeting ISO 9000 will have little or no difficulty incorporating ISO 14000.

Frequently the barrier to implementing continuous improvement in reduced consumption and waste is a capital investment.http://technacon.com/… However, due to the Green Revolution significant grants are available to help
companies across this hurdle. Now is the time to embrace the Green Revolution, implement ISO 14000 and increase profitability. Joining the Green Revolution could make more business sense than it does today.

Reducing Pollution and Reducing Landscaping Bills

Mowing Less = Reducing Pollution

Control Landscaping Cost While Reducing Pollution

by Nancy Schumm, Schumm Consulting LLC

One way for business owners to reduce pollution adjacent to waterways like streams, rivers, detention basins and lakes, is to replace traditional landscaping with native landscaping buffers.  Similar to the USDA programs for reducing run-off from farms, businesses may qualify for federal or local grants for protecting and improving water quality by adding native landscaping features to their property.  

Native Plants Assist in Reducing Pollution

Native plants are identified by their heritage, as they were indigenous to the region prior to European settlement.  These plants require less maintenance than non-native plants because they have deep-roots adapted to our clay soils and our climate.  Native plants, once established, don’t require constant irrigation, pruning, or mowing.  They also naturally filter nutrients and act like sponges in our soils.  As a consequence they reduce pollution and in some cases flooding by absorbing more water at the site rather than allowing it to flow off-site.  Using native landscaping as a buffer to waterways can reduce pollution by as much as 95%. 

 Native landscaping, installed by competent companies who specialize in this work reduces traditional landscaping bills significantly.  Imagine not having weekly maintenance expenses or significant water bills for irrigation systems that will no longer be needed?  Other advantages to native landscaping are that they provide opportunities to form new community partnerships, gain good publicity in the green marketplace for the company, and improve community aesthetics. 

An excellent example of a recently completed project is the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Center who recently received a Conservation Award for their corporate campus in Schaumburg from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Chicago Wilderness.   

The bottom line is that native landscaping looks better, costs less over time, and improves the environment; a win-win for business and the planet. 

Nancy Schumm is the owner of Schumm Consulting LLC.  She specializes in managing water protection projects with over 20 years of experience in grant writing and project management for a wide variety of landowners both private and public helping by reducing pollution. www.schummconsulting.com