Brian Copeland’s default image

By: Brian Copeland

Every day, I hear from frustrated quality assurance (QA) managers who’ve been informed by project management that their six-week testing schedule has been reduced to two weeks or less. It usually involves some sob story about how the development team is a month late because of the customer’s last-minute changes (Isn’t it always someone else’s fault?). The testing team is expected to suck up the lost time and get their testing done in a fraction of the originally scheduled time.I typically ask them, “What have you done to prevent this from happening?” The manager usually explodes from sheer pressure and dumps a laundry list of reasons for the project’s poor condition—management committed to a date before the project even kicked off. There are problems with the requirements—either they’re nonexistent, vague, incomplete, or not well documented. There are problems with the involvement of the quality resources, such as being left out of key meetings. There are problems with the development team producing unit-tested code.

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

In a repetitive manufacturing environment, Six Sigma’s quantification is much easier than in the engineer-to-order (ETO) manufacturing environment, where no two products are identical.

Six Sigma is a program that affects the entire company. What have been missing for ETO manufacturers are the central management tools to ensure the entire Six Sigma implementation is applied systematically. While Six Sigma affects external and internal users, centralized communication is critical to the program’s success, particularly when there's a strong need for interaction between engineering and manufacturing.

According to Stephen Carson, executive vice president for Visibility Corp., “Many project-based manufacturers provide contract engineering and manufacturing services related to the production of components and assemblies with multiple domestic and off-shore locations. These companies must have a consistent track record of growth by concentrating and effectively competing on quality, timeliness and price. They require a state-of-the-art process and quality control system that provide both the flexibility and consistency to deliver the highest quality manufacturing services and cost effective product delivery.”

Following are some key quality ETO challenges:

Craig Cochran’s picture

By: Craig Cochran

Last year I had the good fortune of doing some consulting with B&C Specialty Products in Hopeulikit, Georgia. B&C does light manufacturing, primarily plastic molding and assembly, and they also distribute imported products produced by companies in the Far East. They have about 150 employees and are the biggest employer by far in Hopeulikit.
B&C was a perfect place to learn about managing and quality. Every day presented a new lesson. Usually the lessons were hard-learned, but those are the ones that really stick with you. B&C was gracious enough to allow me to interview their personnel about things that came up during my time there. Here is one of those lessons: Don’t let personnel problems fester. The scenario is described by the people who actually lived it.

Kimberly Kayler’s default image

By: Kimberly Kayler

As a major manufacturer and distributor of uncoated free-sheet papers, containerboard and corrugated containers, newsprint and market pulp, Boise Paper Solutions provides products that aid their customers in making their own products. That is why having to go offline for unscheduled lime kiln shut-downs at a cost of about $87,000 a year in lost production, makeup time and maintenance costs is disastrous.

Bill Kalmar’s picture

By: Bill Kalmar

Conversation at a business luncheon tends to be focused on work. The meal and service are secondary concerns. Still, clumsy service or a poorly prepared meal can ruin a productive business meeting, and a delightful meal and impeccable service can make such an experience enjoyable.
Recently, I had a luncheon meeting with a friend at a nationwide restaurant chain that prides itself on exemplary service.

I ordered first—a cup of soup and a small Greek salad. The waiter asked me if I wanted the soup and salad combo—a bowl of soup and a salad. I passed on the combo. My friend ordered the combo with a Caesar salad.

M. P. Bhattathiri’s default image

By: M. P. Bhattathiri

Editor’s note: The Bhagavad Gita is a guide for millions of people around the world, particularly in India. Quality Digest is interested in anything that can affect quality in business, and Bhattathiri’s use of the Bhagavad Gita is unique in our experience. See what he has to say and tell us what you think.

One of the greatest contributions of India to the world is the Bhagavad Gita, or Holy Gita—an ancient epic poem in Sanskrit whose title translates to “The Song of the Divine One” and is considered by many to be one of the first revelations from God.

Craig Cochran’s picture

By: Craig Cochran

Last year I had the good fortune of doing some consulting with B&C Specialty Products in Hopeulikit, Georgia. B&C does light manufacturing, primarily plastic molding and assembly, and they also distribute imported products produced by companies in the Far East. They have about 150 employees and are the biggest employer by far in Hopeulikit.

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

The tagline to the 1989 film "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" was “The Enterprise is back. This time, have they gone too far?”

With up to 10 years of continued process improvements on the plant floor, and in back office and distribution operations, manufacturers have finally arrived at the front door of customer relationship management (CRM). Many senior manufacturing engineering and operations executives are strongly resistant and assert that lean CRM is the final frontier in the lean enterprise process. Now that the quick gains have been achieved from eliminating waste in the rest of the manufacturing enterprise, the areas most neglected—customer service, sales and marketing—are front and center.

Achieving bottom-line benefits from the implementation of many of the CRM technology solutions that provide “electronic” connections and profound data analysis and reporting capabilities is only part of the quality equation. There are systematic processes designed to achieve significant CRM benefits including:

Bill Kalmar’s picture

By: Bill Kalmar

Rather than travel to Pamplona, Spain, for the annual Running of the Bulls, one need go no further than the parking lots of many U.S. companies. Here people described in many company brochures as “our most important asset" are being herded and unceremoniously told to go home after years of service. The psychic goring of these employees often has already been done by an inept management team, and for some the wounds will last forever. There’s a remarkable, and bizarre, parallel between Pamplona and corporate America: long ago potential buyers of the bulls always ran ahead in order to be well placed for the purchase that followed the event. In corporate settings, management stays behind in the shadows, not wanting to confront the victims as they’re led to their "psychological slaughter."

Douglas C. Fair’s picture

By: Douglas C. Fair

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