7 Quality Tools
One of the requirements of Business Survival is Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) of both your products and your service, the 7 Quality Tools (or 7 CQI Tools) can help you make this continual improvement.
Failure to continually improve your processes, service and product quality will at some point result in the demise of your livelihood! There is always someone out there trying to compete with you by being cheaper, quicker, better, or more reliable, sooner or later they will take your business if you don’t improve your processes! This is why continuous quality improvement is so important to your business.
Walter Shewhart suggested 7 Quality tools that should be used for continual Improvement, these have been improved and added to over the years, mainly by the Japanese manufacturers who implemented the works of the great quality Gurus such as Deming, Shewhart and Juran. Through the growth of the Toyota Production System which spawned Lean Manufacturing, these tools have been returned to the west and been reapplied with new philosophies such as Six Sigma.
Planned Approach to Continuous Quality Improvement::PDCA
Check, Act or PDCA is a cyclical approach to managing a project or problem
solving process, it is also known as the Deming Cycle, Deming Circle, or Shewhart Cycle. This cycle forms a major part
of the ISO 9001 series of standards which are suggested for companies to follow
to ensure a robust quality management system (QMS).
changed over the years as many things do, even Deming adapted his original PDCA
and turned it into PDSA, with Study replacing the Check to put more emphasis on
people understanding the results not just recording them.
also become DMAIC for Six Sigma, Define, Meausre, Analyse, Improve, Control.
All of these processes are iterative, that is you continue to implement the
process in a continual spiral of never ending continuous quality improvement and thus continuous business improvement.
Use Tally Charts for Data Collection and continuous quality improvement
One of the simplest of the 7 quality tools for continuous quality improvement is that of the Tally chart, a tool that many will be familiar with from early years at school. Used to record data in a quick and easy method the tally chart is often overlooked due to its simplicity.
Analyse Data with a Histogram or Bar Chart.
simple tool from most people’s school years, the Histogram or Bar Chart is a
simple method to graphically represent collected data and allow simple visual
analysis of that data. The Histogram will quickly and clearly tell you how good
your process is at meeting the required tolerances as well as pointing out any
Pareto Charts and the 80:20 Rule to drive continuous quality improvement
Charts are very similar to Histograms or Bar charts, however the pareto analysis
is one that reflects the 80:20 rule. The 80:20 rule originally proposed through
the research of Vilfredo Pareto regarding 80% of a countries wealth
belonging to just 20% of it’s population. This ratio is as applicable in business as it is
in economics. This analysis allows us to focus our resources on the critical
few to gain the maximum benefit.
Brainstorming and Mind Mapping for continuous quality improvement
is a simple group technique to stimulate creative thinking, either to discover
potential causes of a problem or potential solutions. Either done in planned
and managed meetings to a set of formal rules or through a virtual
brainstorming approach the data can be organized and analysed in a number of
different ways such as in a fishbone diagram or as a mind map or even mind
Fishbone Diagram or Ishikawa Diagram for continuous quality Improvement
The fishbone diagram or Ishikawa diagram as named
after its creator Kaoru Ishikawa is a way to represent cause and effect. The
effect forming the head of the fishbone and the potential causes forming the
skeleton behind. It is a structured way to represent the results of a
brainstorm in specific categories that contribute to problems, Man, Method,
Machine, Materials, Metrics, Mother Nature being the usual areas that the ideas
are broken down into.
Statistical Process Control Charts (SPC) for continuous quality improvement
or Statistical Process Control charts are a useful method to monitor a process
on an ongoing basis to look for any changes to the process that cause it to go “out
of control”. The output from the process or specific parameters of the process itself
are monitored and charted on the SPC chart, there are then a set of rules by
which the charts can be interpreted. If the process is running in a normal
fashion then the plots on the chart will fall randomly within the limits
defined on the chart, otherwise they act in a non random manner and the
operator is warned of a problem in the process, often before rejects are
Business Process Mapping for continuous quality improvement
Process Mapping is a simple method to highlight wasteful
steps in your processes, by mapping out the actual processes, not those
recorded in your procedures and manuals, you can work to eliminate the waste in your process. This can be done at
a business level as would be done for value stream mapping or can be done at the
level of specific processes.
The 5 Whys for continual quality improvement
One of the
problems with solving problems is that people often address the symptoms and
not the root causes, the thing that actually caused the problem in the first
place, because of this the problems reoccur time and time again. The 5 whys is
a simple discipline to keep asking why of the potential cause until you can
think of no more causes of your cause, often asking 5 whys will get you to the
true root cause, but don’t stop at 5 if you can think of further whys.
Continuous Quality Improvement
The 7 quality tools mentioned above are all very simple but very powerful weapons in the arsenal of someone who wishes to continually improve their business. Continuous quality improvement does not just happen, you need to plan it and use the tools available to you to ensure that it happens continually in your business to stay ahead of your competitors.
Those businesses that use continuous process improvement are the ones that will still be here in the future, those that fail to continually improve will stagnate and die.
Help with Continuous Quality Improvement and the 7 Quality Tools
The following links will help you with regard to understanding and implementing quality tools and continuous quality and process improvement;
Chartered Quality Institute (CQI); The Chartered Quality Institute in the UK is the place to go to for all thinks quality related, they have various resources and publications that can be utilized to help you achieve continuous quality improvement and learn about the 7 quality tools.
American Society for Quality (ASQ); American society for quality will be able to give you advice and support just as the CQI in England can. Membership of either body is recommended.
British Standards Institute; British Standards Institute (BSI) can give you access to international standards and like LRQA hosts many training events that can help your quality initiatives.
American Standards Organization; American Standards Organization can provide you with much that BSI and LRQA can offer in the UK.
Quality Institute in Healthcare; Quality Institute for Healthcare is a great place to approach if you want to achieve continuous quality improvement in the healthcare sector.
Institute for Manufacturing (IFM); Institute for Manufacturing in Cambridge has a vast amount of information about different business improvement techniques, they also often have students and fellows available for projects.
These places will help you with finding out about the 7 quality tools for continuous quality improvement.
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