All posts in Quality Control


Agile ISO: How to Combine Compliance with Rapid Process Improvement

agile isoISO standards can be confusing and intimidating.

However, with the 2015 updates, it really shouldn’t be that scary.

In the past, conforming to ISO meant huge manuals and a lengthy process to change how tasks were approached.

Now, there is increased flexibility and the opportunity to utilize software to speed up your systems and make everything easier to handle.

This is why we’re presenting you with our concept of Agile ISO: how to combine structured compliance with the rapid process improvement of a startup.

In this Process Street article, we’ll cover:

  • What is ISO?
  • What is ISO 9000?
  • What is Agile ISO?
  • What is needed to support Agile ISO?
  • How to get started with Agile ISO in 5 easy steps

I’m going to try to be brief and clear while cutting the bullshit.

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The 7 Core Six Sigma Principles to Build Your Business Around

six sigma principles headerFinding ways to improve processes within your organization can be tough.

There always seems to be so many things to measure and so many variables to consider.

Where do you start? How do you determine what’s good? Who takes responsibility for improvement?

Fortunately, you don’t have to go in blind.

There are loads of approaches you can take to process improvement, but one of the key techniques used by some of the world’s top companies is Six Sigma.

The Six Sigma school of thought is all about finding the right focus and tightening up processes around that goal. The end result should be the reduction of defects from a process. This saves resources, time, effort, and most of all money!

In this Process Street article, we’re going to give you an intro into Six Sigma while linking off to resources for you to explore deeper.

We’ll investigate the key Six Sigma principles which can shape and direct process improvement in your business.

The core Six Sigma principles

The 7 key Six Sigma principles we’ll cover are:

  • Always focus on the customer
  • Understand how work really happens
  • Make your processes flow smoothly
  • Reduce waste and concentrate on value
  • Stop defects through removing variation
  • Get buy-in from the team through collaboration
  • Make your efforts systematic and scientific

You could categorize these as lean Six Sigma if you want to as well.

Given the evolving nature of the different schools of business process improvement, there will always likely be some disagreement over what the specific principles are.

For this reason, I feel it’s important to include the various competing principles even if some other lists might look at only 5 or 6 principles.

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DFSS: How Design For Six Sigma can Supercharge Your Business

dfss design for six sigmaAs we build businesses, we strive to make them successful in what they do and efficient in the way they carry that out.

Six Sigma is framework with dual American and Japanese origins which helps companies achieve both of these aims.

We want to take company processes and make them better, smoother, faster, easier – it’s what Process Street does. But having a complex process optimized to the highest degree, as Six Sigma advocates, is tough.

That’s why we’re going to look at Design for Six Sigma.

This will take the Six Sigma lessons and apply them to creating new processes or products. Importantly, it will help us set up these processes or products in a way which makes them ready from the start for further Six Sigma-inspired analysis.

According to Quality-One:

…[U]tilizing Design for Six Sigma methodologies, companies have reduced their time to market by 25 to 40 percent while providing a high quality product that meets the customer’s requirements.

In this article, we’ll look at:

  • What is Six Sigma?
  • What is Design for Six Sigma?
  • What is DMADV?
  • What is the difference between DMAIC and DFSS

We’ll run through the best practices of creating new products and processes in a way that they can be improved and optimized from the very beginning.

Don’t waste your time with poor processes. Start right and continue properly.

Read on to see how it works!

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What are P-Values? How to Make Sure Your Hard-Won Data Isn’t Totally Useless

p valueHere at Process Street, we’re always advocating for companies to use data to help in making important decisions.

But data on its own is not massively useful.

I could run an experiment right now and gather loads of data. But if that experiment was run poorly then my data will be poor. Which means any readings of that data will be poor too, leading to poor decisions.

Alternatively, I could run a really well structured piece of research and gather some great data, but if I don’t know how to properly analyze that data then my conclusions won’t be very good.

Simply having large data sets is not enough.

We need to structure our research well and then be able to interpret the results with a degree of rigour. Fortunately, having a good working knowledge of P-Values can help us iron out some alarmingly common mistakes. It can teach us:

  1. How to set up an experiment for meaningful data
  2. The importance of measuring your existing hypothesis against an alternative
  3. When results really are statistically significant, instead of just looking good

This knowledge will help us make better decisions and lead to greater success.

In this Process Street article, we’ll look at 4 key areas:

  • What are P-Values?
  • How do you calculate P-Values?
  • Examples of P-Values in practice – A/B testing
  • Why you need to set up a research process

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Jidoka: Why Automation Plus Intelligence Equals Best Results

jidokaAutomation is all the rage right now.

We at Process Street can’t stop going on about it.

Automation can save time and money while taking the monotonous tasks out of your employees’ days.

It’s a win-win.

But, in order to approach automation properly, it’s best to understand the development of automation over time and what best practices are used in order to deliver effective automations in your business.

That’s why this Process Street article will look at the core Toyota principle of Jidoka, including:

  • What is Jidoka?
  • What are the related concepts within the Toyota Production System?
  • 3 examples of Jidoka in practice

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Genchi Genbutsu: The Problem Solving Concept Which Drives Toyota Forward

genchi genbutsuIt’s one thing to identify errors or weaknesses in your business, but it’s another to actually fix and improve them.

The crucial step in fixing an error is deciding the right solution to implement. Pick the wrong one and you create a different problem.

When you’re in a massive company, you want to make sure you’re picking the right solution before you start implementing across a whole corporate structure.

Because of this, investigating the problem as thoroughly as possible should be paramount. And this leads us to Genchi Genbutsu; part of the Toyota Production System conceptual toolkit.

In this Process Street article we’re going to look at:

  • What is Genchi Genbutsu?
  • How Toyota revitalized their minivan thanks to a road trip
  • 3 academic approaches to guide your investigation

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Taylorism and The History of Processes: 6 Key Thinkers You Should Know

taylorismIf you want to employ approaches like business process management in your business it’s best to have a solid understanding of how these theories work.

One crucial aspect of using these theories correctly is understanding their development.

It’s common for managers to want to employ cutting edge ideas in their business, but without a deep understanding these methods can be misapplied.

These errors will reduce the effectiveness of your process management and hold your business back.

It’s not just business where process improvement efforts are regularly being undermined! In a recent meta-study from the British Medical Journal, researchers found only 2 out of 73 studies had applied the PDSA process improvement methodology in a way which fully met criteria. Commenting:

To progress the development of the science of improvement, a greater understanding of the use of improvement methods, including PDSA, is essential to draw reliable conclusions about their effectiveness.

In this Process Street article, we’re going to look at some of the fundamentals and pick out key historical thinkers whose work we can trace from in order to better inform how process improvement methods should be done. Including:

  • Who is Frederick Winslow Taylor?
  • What is Taylorism?
  • What W. Edwards Deming can teach us about continuous improvement
  • Why Taiichi Ohno helps you cut waste in your business
  • What Ludwig von Bertalanffy tells us about systems
  • How Bill Smith changed the way we view defects
  • What Ray Dalio can show us about company culture

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How to Tighten Up Your Approval Process and Smash the Bottleneck

approval process headerWhether you’re submitting a draft of an article for review, collating a report for senior management, or presenting a product design, you probably need someone to sign off on your work.

This happens day in day out in organizations all around the world.

Yet, the sign off process can be slow and littered with delays.

Anyone who has worked in software development will know the pain of submitting work for review, only for revisions and changes to drone on and on. The time spent waiting can sometimes be as much as the time spent working.

And this, friends, is bad for business.

Last week I published an article on Muda – waste in production systems – and laid out the different ways poor processes create waste and damage business performance. One of those wastes is referred to as Time on Hand, or waiting.

In this article, we’ll look to cover the most common occurrence of this waste: the approval flow. We’ll look at:

  • What an approval process is
  • What common approval workflows are
  • Best practices for approvals
  • How you can use Process Street to streamline your approvals

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Are You Poka-Yoke Woke? Stop Mistakes With This Error Prevention Method (10 Examples)

poka yoke headerWhat’s better than fixing something when it’s broken?

Stopping it from breaking in the first place.

This article is going to focus on how you can put certain steps in place to catch problems before they arise.

This technique is called poka yoke and was born out of the Toyota Production System. At its core, poka yoke is extremely simple. Any addition to a process which is included to change the behavior of the person operating the process with the intention of reducing mistakes, can be referred to by the concept poka yoke.

In this article we’ll look at:

  • Where poka yoke came from
  • How to implement poka yoke
  • Successful examples of poka yoke in action

If you want your process to be the very best then you have to think about error prevention!

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How to Use The Deming Cycle for Continuous Quality Improvement

deming cycle headerUnderstanding quality and seeking to improve it is arguably the core purpose behind undertaking process improvements.

But where did this philosophy of process improvement come from?

One key person is William Edwards Deming – sometimes referred to as Edward W. Deming. He’s principally a statistician, but one could even call him a philosopher of science.

Deming’s goal was to reapply the scientific method to business processes, and has left us with two main variants of his thinking: PDSA and PDCA.

In this article we’ll outline:

  • What the Deming cycle is, with its history
  • How to apply the Deming cycle to improve your business processes
  • The important distinction between PDSA and PDCA
  • How PDSA is employed in the medical field

Deming’s approach is not just about improving processes, but about improving a whole business.

In a recent meta-study from the British Medical Journal, researchers found only 2 out of 73 studies had applied PDSA in a way which fully met criteria. Commenting:

To progress the development of the science of improvement, a greater understanding of the use of improvement methods, including PDSA, is essential to draw reliable conclusions about their effectiveness.

And that’s why we’re writing this article!

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