CQMgr Exam Comes
to Life on CD-ROM:
The Complete Guide to the CQM Interactive Study Program
Software Review by Dirk Dusharme
I'm not a big fan of reading large amounts of material on a computer screen. I'm a technology geek, but there are limits. I just can't drag my 200 MHz desktop Pentium with MegaWazzoo speakers into my porcelain-fixtured library like I do The Wall Street Journal.
So it was with trepidation that I started my review of Thomas Pyzdek's CD-ROM, The Complete Guide to the CQM Interactive Study Program. I'd been told that it contains the complete text of Pyzdek's 800-page book, The Complete Guide to the CQM (with detailed information on 100 percent of the subjects in the Certified Quality Manager body of knowledge, says Pyzdek) and the full text of the solutions manual (answers to selected questions from the main text). If Pyzdek had simply crammed the text into a CD-ROM, I'd be suggesting that you read the books and use the CD-ROM as a coaster. Fortunately, Pyzdek did the right thing and structured the CD-ROM to function as a very effective self-test tool for the CQMgr exam.
As a tool for the CQMgr examination preparation and review, the CD-ROM shows its greatest strength. The review section contains the same questions covered in the solutions text, but without the answers. This allows users to read a question and jot down their answers in essay form (the "constructed response" form favored by the CQMgr exam). Clicking on the question will take you to a sample correct response. And here's a slick addition that other CD-ROM titles would do well to emulate -- each answer allows users to click on keywords that link them to the precise page in The Complete Guide to the CQM text, where the subject is covered in-depth, complete with graphics and equations. For instance: "Pick any two of Deming's 14 points and explain their relationship to one another." One click and you see a sample answer that gives a description of how to link Deming's points No. 1 and No. 4. Another click and you're whisked away to the list of Deming's 14 points. Nice.
Pyzdek also suggests that the CD-ROM be used as a tool to search for information on a CQM topic. However, my search for key words or phrases turned out to be hit or miss. The problem seems to be a quirk with Adobe Acrobat, the interface used as the platform for the material. Key word searches did not always find all occurrences of the search phrase.
The biggest problem with the CD-ROM is the lack of documentation (none) on how to load and use it. There should at least be a one-page "getting started" document. Although I knew to print out the "readme" file on the CD-ROM -- which contains the installation instructions -- several customers I talked with did not know this. The readme got me through the installation of the Acrobat Reader and loading Pyzdek's welcome page.
Particularly confusing to those unfamiliar with Acrobat is how to move between documents. For instance, when you click on a question, Acrobat sends you to the answer, which is on another document. It took about five minutes to figure out how to switch back to the questions document. One solution: Pull down "File -- Preferences -- General" from the Acrobat menu bar. Uncheck the box "Open Cross-Document Links in Same Window." Each document then opens in its own window. To move between documents, pull down "Window" from the menu bar and choose the document you want.
Use issues aside, I and the customers I interviewed give thumbs up to the material and to the product's technical support. If you are interested in pursuing the CQMgr, you will find The Complete Guide to the CQM Interactive Study Program to be a useful tool.