We all think differently on quality. One of the many ways in which I determine quality is appropriateness to its purpose (fitness for use). By this, I mean that the quality is optimal when it conforms to the agreed requirements of each product or service. Optimal quality meets optimal cost-effectiveness. Under quality is costly in the long run, but so is over quality.
Inside of the quality term, quality can be divided into process quality and product quality. The process quality, for example, a communication between designers, purchasers and other people during the project is even more important than product quality. Both process quality and product quality can be observed in internal customer and external customer areas and we want to notice mistakes before our customers do. Quality management work is the fight against different deviations. The elimination of deviation/ waste provides a boost in productivity when value-adding work relatively increases.
Maybe you have heard a wise person say that customer satisfaction comes from happy employees, which means that you need to measure your own people first and after that concentrate on your customer feedback. This is true: I believe that quality is improved by a right attitude, habits and daily routines - not only by setting targets for measures. Quality making needs to be built into your processes and people’s behaviour. Quality measures and targets are only showing progress and the current status but they alone are not improving your quality in practice.
In my opinion, the following three points are needed in order to improve the quality: You need to allocate time for 1) team motivation and co-operation of processes planning, 2) listening to and internalising the data and 3) fast corrective actions which are together agreed in your team. These actions should be small but effective. A great motivator for the employees is to divide their work into intermediate targets; a small victory every day is way more motivating than gigantic, unreachable goals. When successful, these points fuel growing of the quality culture. This investment enables good progress in productivity by eliminating waste – a basic principle of the Lean leadership.
Implementing ISO 9001 to build better productivity
In Rostek, we decided to start 9001 implementation project toward better productivity in May 2017. We saw this as an opportunity for company development and definitely not just a paper on the wall. As the starting point, we took all of our approx. 30 processes under brainstorming and held 4 hours’ workshop for each of them with 3 to 10 participants from Rostek. We were having excellent discussions and obtained new ideas on how to improve our current way of working. In addition, we are all happy and excited about the new and compact way to illustrate Rostek’s processes – thanks to our helping hand Mr Seppo Mattila from QL Partners, www.qlpartners.fi.
One of the main results of the 9001 project is the strong basement where to build further process and culture development. As an example, we found a totally new way of collecting data on the effectiveness of our internal project work. The foundation stone for that was our new project work process with well-described checklists. Smartsheet.com web-based tool is set up by ourselves to collect process deviations with photos easily (in 30 sec.) from emails or mobile apps on the field. Perhaps the best part of this tool is a fast categorization of different deviations for Quality Quarter (15 min) meeting, which is held every Wednesday at 9:00 enjoying coffee at the same time.
In Smarsheet.com, we categorize whether the deviation is in the product or in the process, where does it originates from (input process) and where has it been observed (output process/customer process). As plus feature, on the same row where the deviations are identified, there is a ‘5 times why’-tool for a fast root cause analysis, which we perform before we allocate a right person to make the corrective actions. In this way, we are able to get credible data for each process owner to execute their own ‘Plan-Do-Check-Act’ -year plan in the name of continuous improvement.
As a summary, do not assume your employees are self-motivated to make corrective actions. So, bring them credible data, give time to internalise the data, support small victories, and make sure that you build quality oriented daily routines – and do not forget their bank account when productivity is increased!
World-class productivity originates from a solid quality culture, which is made by motivated employees, ‘we-attitude’, and feedback measures. [In Finnish, these key elements can be summarized into 3M’s: Motivaatio, Me, Mittarit.]