Comprehensive Quality

by bobroan on March 29, 2013

Business processes and automation can substantially enhance the quality of everything you do. Here are some components of a quality paradigm:

    • Develop best practices,
    • Implement them,
    • Check the outcome
    • Be confident you followed them,
    • Extend them,
    • Improve them, and
    • Have a good way to fix mistakes once they slip into the world.


Best practices are the result of knowledgeable people giving thought to the best way to do something and writing clear directions (usually in a flow chart format to help with completeness.)


Implementing best practices involves

    • In a manual system – making people aware of the best practices, teaching them how to recognize which best practice applies and then training them in how to interpret and follow the best practice
    • In an automated system – Writing a computer program and debugging it


Checking the outcome

    • The best practice may sound brilliant, but the proof is in the output.  Incorporate a QA system like the one described in this previous blog


Being confident they were being followed

    • With a manual system, you can test people after they’ve been taught about the practices, and spot check how they do once on the job
    • With an automated system, you know they’re being followed. You also have an audit trail of what occurred


Extend them into related areas

    • For example, you could start a quality dialogue with your vendors which could begin as early as setting up a QA system for them to test products before they ship and/or while in production.  Then you could test shipments as they arrive.
    • Not only would this catch defects sooner, but it would also allow you to build a history of how good suppliers are



Improve them through increased granularity and experimentation

    • Granularity
      • Automation makes best practices more granular because it keeps asking questions about them.
      • The more granular, the more consistency.  Consider “Write the chapter” compared to  “gather this kind of information from this person,” “gather this other kind from this other person,” “create a draft,” “send it here for review,” “etc.”  Even articulating the steps to follow, let alone going into detail about the steps, promotes uniformity.
    • Experiment
      • The ability to test hypothesis and then make changes is a pathway to creating the best product you can.
      • Automation lets you be more ambitious and specific.  Whenever you want to try something new (see the part about hypothesis testing in this post) you just change the workflow and it automatically ripples, instead of training people and hoping they understand when and where to implement the new protocol and where and when to stick with the current methods.
      • Automation also eliminates the unknown of how accurately the test was run so you can be more confident of the results


Tracking complaints and warranty issues

    • An automated workflow can track ​service requests throughout their life cycle.  It can tell you how long an item has been open, escalate tickets to a higher level and route them appropriately


What did I forget?​

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