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Frank Bouchard, President
Bouchard Quality Management, Inc., Tucson, AZ
Phone (520) 490-6649
Fax (520) 323-0630
The House of Quality
Most organizations do not have a plan for improvement. The “fad of the month” concept has been successful marketing tool for that very reason. A plan will eliminate the reaction to good marketing and start driving the organization to a unified approach to improvements in processes, quality, operating costs, and profits. This plan becomes the framework for an organization focused on improvements.
For any organization to achieve sustainable improvements, the first criteria is to have controls in place so that goals can be stated and achieved eliminating the risk of falling back to the old, ineffective way of doing things. The controls can be part of the project plan (the ‘C’ of the Six Sigma DMAIC process improvement model), or can be built into a quality management system such as the Aerospace AS 9100 Standard. This becomes the foundation for the “House of Quality.”
The second part or the roof of the framework is goals the organization would like to achieve. The Baldrige Award defines a set of goals that an organization can set focusing on a world-class business management system. Notice the change in scope from a narrow quality management system to a complete business management system. The AS 9100 can be easily expanded to include those processes that are omitted from a quality management system. Objectives can include business objectives not normally considered when the organization thinks of the system as quality only. It should be noted that most state quality awards are patterned after and very similar to the Baldrige Award.
The pillars of the framework are the elements of an improvement model. These pillars can be the 5 pillars of TQM, the elements of Lean Processes, the DMAIC process of Six Sigma or Deming’s PDCA improvement cycle. Arguably the best model combines Lean Process (cycle time emphasis) with Six Sigma (quality improvement emphasis).
Whatever the specifics of the plan are, the framework gives a focused direction for the organization to maximize the time and dollars spent on moving the organization forward.
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Now that we have the framework for our House of Quality drawn, we can start the building. The first step is the foundation.
The foundation needs to be strong, firm and provide the basis for the complete organization. ISO 9001/AS 9100 is the concrete for the foundation. For this article we will use the ISO 9001 Standard. AS 9100 contains all the elements of the ISO 9001 Standard plus some clauses unique to the aerospace industry.
A major emphasis with the ISO 9001:2000 revision is on the customer. The criteria states that the organization will determine the customer needs, will ensure that the contract not only states these needs, but other requirements the customer not defined by the customer, but necessary for the safe and satisfactory operation of the product. The criteria also ensure a review of the requirements to ensure the organization has the ability to deliver to these requirements.
The criteria also state that the organization will determine the customer’s perception of the product and service quality. Perception is a key word as it expands product quality at the end of the line to include the received quality of the product and the quality of other interfaces between the organization and customer. These include order entry, technical support, installation and field repairs.
ISO 9001 requires the organization to identify its key processes, and to establish measurements to determine how well these processes are operating, and to identify opportunities for improvement. The organization will also determine the degree of control appropriate for these processes. It is generally understood that for long term an permanent improvements, these controls need to be in place to ensure the organization does not fall back into the old way of doing things.
Three key requirements of the ISO 9001 Standard ensures the ongoing effectiveness of the system: internal audits, corrective and preventive action, and management responsibility. If these three requirements are effective, the system is effective. These are the controls on the management system.
In all the above, it is highly recommended that the quality management system be used as a business management system. That is to say the system is not the responsibility of the quality manager and deals only with quality issues. Most elements of a typical company are now covered such as Human Resources and Facilities Management in Section 6, Purchasing in Section 7. Other areas such as accounting and strategic planning are not yet covered in the Standard, but must be considered key processes and so should be documented as any other key process.
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The most exciting part in developing the House of Quality is focusing the organization. This starts with the Quality Policy. The Quality Policy defines the organization and what is stands for. It is what generates excitement. It is what defines the criteria for decisions.
There are three elements of the Quality Policy: customer focus, continuous improvement and a key phrase as to the nature of the organization. Once specified this way, it is easy to generate words. But this is not just word. If it was, you could use the phrases in the first sentence of this paragraph. Most organizations claim to have a customer focus and continuous improvement. But what is unique to your organization? Define it, publish it and “see who salutes.” If it is truly unique, members of the organization will see the organization in a totally new light. They will get excited about working for and contributing to the organization.
The second element of focusing the organization is to develop meaningful objectives that are derived from the Quality Policy. Rather than stand alone, the phrases of the quality policy should generate objectives that will give direction to the organization. These objectives should be high level objectives that the organization can embrace, and that each section (department or function) in the organization can break down into departmental objectives. Carrying this focus one step further, each individual can then define their contribution to the objectives of their section. Now the entire organization is aligned to the objectives, and therefore the policy of the organization.
The final step in this focus is developing a measurement system that will monitor progress. Each member of the organization should be able to see the effects of their contribution. Conversely when things go wrong, the measurement system should be able to pinpoint the weakness so that corrective action can take place.
The outline above is the typical method of focusing the organization, but is should be mentioned that it can be effectively accomplished backwards. The first step in reverse order is to identify those measurements that are important to the organization. From there objectives can be set and a policy can be established.