Content By Quality Digest

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By: Quality Digest

Breakthrough Management Group, a provider of Six Sigma training, consulting and software, has signed a strategic reseller agreement with Iowa-based GeoLearning Inc., a developer of learning management platforms and Web-based training solutions.

Under the terms of the agreement, GeoLearning will resell and host BMG’s extensive content library of Six Sigma e-courses and Web-based training.

"GeoLearning is one of the top e-learning solutions providers in the world," says David Silverstein, president and CEO of Breakthrough Management Group. "This partnership opens up a significant sales channel for us. By offering BMG’s Six Sigma e-course library to GeoLearning’s customers, the e-learning community will have more options for accessing BMG’s complete Six Sigma online belt programs, basic skills and awareness training, as well as BMG’s custom content services. The company’s young workforce, high growth rate and reputation for excellence makes them a perfect match for a partnership with BMG."

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By: Quality Digest

Microsoft Corp. has released new enhancements for its Microsoft Office Solution Accelerator for Six Sigma.

The additions to the software are intended to help businesses cut costs, improve processes and reduce the time it takes to complete projects. Available now at no charge to all Microsoft industry partners and customers, the Accelerator--which now fully leverages support for the latest Microsoft Office system--delivers standardized tools, support and structured implementation methods crucial to successful Six Sigma adoption.

"We are seeing an increasing need from Motorola’s customers and suppliers with business improvement initiatives for an integrated, scalable, easy-to-use system that enables teams to manage and monitor their Six Sigma projects," says Tom McCarty, vice president of Motorola University Consulting Services. "That’s why Motorola University is working with Microsoft to offer the Office Solution Accelerator for Six Sigma to our clients."

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By: Quality Digest

Minitab Inc. has agreed to include Rath & Strong’s two latest publications--Who’s Fault Is It Anyway?, and Rath & Strong’s Guide to MINITAB: Release 14--in Minitab’s companion textbook list, available on the Minitab Web site.

Whose Fault Is It Anyway: A Modern Fable About Six Sigma is written to be entertaining and informative. This concise Rath & Strong book is a simple, effective and enjoyable way to spread the powerful message of Six Sigma. The fable provides an easy way to experience what it really feels like to implement Six Sigma and run a project.

The Guide To MINITAB: Release 14 teaches users how to use MINITAB software in a two-level approach designed to enhance the learning experience:

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By: PowerSteering Software

PowerSteering Software, the leading provider of Six Sigma enterprise program management software, has announced the availability of PowerSixSigma, its first software solution designed exclusively to meet the advanced requirements of Six Sigma quality initiatives.

Using its popular PowerSteering enterprise program management software as a foundation, the company has significantly enhanced the solution to fully support quality leaders’ needs for real-time tracking, best practice leverage and the successful execution of thousands of simultaneous Six Sigma projects.

"For more than five years, our customers have been using PowerSteering to manage and monitor Six Sigma initiatives," says David Boghossian, CEO and co-founder of PowerSteering Software. "We have listened carefully to the feedback of companies like EMC, Pitney Bowes, Raytheon, Tyco and G.E. to dramatically refine our solution to meet the specific requirements of Six Sigma project leaders. As a result, PowerSixSigma is the industry’s best enterprise solution for managing billions of dollars of quality savings."

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By: Charles Rastle and Julie Fraser

Using Six Sigma initiatives to focus on improving the performance of business and manufacturing processes isn’t a new concept. But a growing number of manufacturers seeking to stay competitive and improve profitability are, instead, turning to Six Sigma to provide stronger value to customers. As a structured and fact-based means of achieving continuous improvement, Six Sigma programs need accurate data to analyze current performance issues and their root causes. Measuring improvement-in terms of defects per million, for example-requires accurate data.

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By: Quality Digest

The Lean Learning Center will co-sponsor the "Benchmarking Best Practices in Lean Manufacturing" conference with Clemson University, May 25-27 in Charleston, South Carolina.

Lean Learning Center founders and partners Andy Carlino and Jamie Flinchbaugh will serve as the conference moderators. In addition, they will run a preconference workshop, "Lean Assessment--Understanding Current Reality Through a Lean Lens" and open the final day of the conference with "The Roadmap for Lean Transformation."

The conference will provide participants with an opportunity to learn about new tools and techniques beneficial to burgeoning lean practices. Presenting companies will include two Shingo Prize recipients and two Industry Week magazine top-10 plant winners. The conference will also feature a tour of ALCOA’s Mt. Holly manufacturing facility.

For more information about the conference or to register, click here.

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By: Craig Cochran

Supplier management is one of the most troublesome disciplines within a management system. There’s nothing inherently difficult about it, though. Companies make it difficult by instilling the process with lots of unwieldy bureaucracy. The trick is to strip the process down to its essential elements, doing only those activities that add value. Let’s take a look at some of the typical elements of supplier management and discuss some lean approaches for each.

Selecting suppliers

Selecting suppliers is a remarkably easy task. Think about what drives your purchasing decisions when you’re using your own money; this same criteria make sense for your company. Here are some common-sense selection factors:

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By: Denise Robitaille

Do not ever, ever, do anything just to please an auditor. This is quickly becoming one of my new favorite mantras. For many individuals, this statement would seem to be self-evident, and yet there are instances when an organization has felt compelled to change a process or implement a new practice in response to an auditor finding or upon the recommendation of a consultant. They end up crippling their quality management system with layers of bureaucracy that add no value. They often do so grudgingly, unconvinced that the action is right or necessary. "Why," they grumble, "should we throw away valuable resources on unfunded mandates handed down by an organization that has no idea what our business is really about?" Even more detrimental than the waste of resources is the damaging effect it has on top executives’ commitment to the entire quality management system.

This is not to accuse consultants and auditors of malice or incompetence. The reality is that these errors of excess are usually rooted in their desire to ensure that the organization’s system is robust, compliant and responsive to customer expectations.

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By: Ronald J. Bowen

After undergoing an often costly and usually painful process to achieve ISO 9001:2000 registration, organizations invariably ask, "What do we do now to ensure that we maintain our registration and gain maximum benefit?" Under ISO 9001:1994, the old answer was fairly straightforward: Continue doing what you say you do. However, ISO 9001:2000-registered companies that follow this advice will lose out on the benefits the revised standard has to offer; and in most cases, they’ll fail to maintain their registration.

In the course of its evolution, ISO 9001:2000 moved from a product-focused and quality control-oriented standard to a quality management system concerned with continual improvement of customer satisfaction. This new focus requires companywide support, but management-in particular-must understand what’s required and commit to leading the company accordingly. This will happen only if management is able to translate the standard into what Joseph M. Juran has described as the "language of management" (i.e., money).

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By: Quality Digest

new standard intended to increase public safety around construction sites has been published by the American Society of Safety Engineers.

A10.34-2001, Protection of the Public on or Adjacent to Construction Sites, establishes safety guidelines for employers, contractors, building owners and rescue personnel to protect the public from construction hazards in the air, on land or at sea. The standard was approved by the American National Standards Institute on Aug. 11, 2001, and covers issues such as cutting, welding, forming and pouring concrete, blasting or pile-driving, hoisting, shoring and other activities that can jeopardize public safety.

"The public needs to be made aware of the potential hazards at or around construction sites and protected to the highest extent possible," says Barry A. Cole, chairman of subgroup A10.34. "This consensus standard covers virtually all construction, including new or renovated office buildings in city environments, roadway construction, work on or near harbors, waterways, airports and even light, commercial and home building construction."