Operations Article

By: Ken Miller

Has your organization secured all its electronic healthcare records (EHR)? If not, don’t wait to put the proper policies and procedures in place. If you’ve already secured your EHR, then make sure that you’re ready for an audit by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

I recently wrote that the OCR is being more aggressive in ensuring that the HIPAA regulations governing EHR security are being enforced. The OCR’s plan includes conducting audits of both healthcare organizations and their business associates, starting in 2016.

Here are ten tips that can help you prepare for possible audits.

1. Policies and procedures
Have a comprehensive set of policies and procedures in place, and ensure they are available to staff through a company intranet or other easily accessible method. Make sure it’s clear that the policies have been fully implemented by filling in all the blank fields and removing draft watermarks. Include evidence that you’ve reviewed the policies periodically, and be sure to retain previous versions for six years.

Michael Huda’s picture

By: Michael Huda

What happens to products when color goes wrong? It’s wrong color that keeps discount stores in business. Copy paper that isn’t quite bright enough, a label with the wrong color red, or a pillowcase that’s a shade off from the rest of the sheets, and the product is rejected. A discounter can buy the whole lot for a fraction of the cost and sell it for profit.

This, of course, is not good for manufacturers, and it’s the real reason color control in manufacturing is so important. From color specification through manufacturing to final quality inspection, the color has to stay true. And it if does stray, it must be caught early so adjustments can be made before too much time and money is wasted.

Although color evaluation can be subjective and emotional, today’s color measurement systems take that out of the equation by providing fact-based analysis and spectral data so everyone is speaking the same language. By staying current with developments in tools, techniques, and technologies for measuring, monitoring and managing, and communicating color, manufacturers can maintain color accuracy across sites and throughout their workflows.

Paul Sloane’s picture

By: Paul Sloane

The business proposal is an essential document not only for sales people but also for anyone who wants to submit a serious proposition for internal or external approval.

The process starts with a thorough understanding of the stakeholder’s needs, problems, and priorities. If a request for proposal has been issued, then the document must be read carefully. The key elements in the request for proposal must be addressed and some of the stakeholder’s phrases and terminology should be reflected in your response. This seems elementary, yet many weighty business proposals have been rejected because they did not address the specific requirements in the request for proposal.

The more understanding you have of the stakeholder’s needs, philosophy, and decision-making criteria, the better placed you will be to submit a winning proposal. If possible, meet the client face to face and ask many intelligent questions.

Quality Digest’s picture

By: Quality Digest

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‘My small business has landed a few very lucrative contracts and we’re growing. Honestly, we’re now struggling with quality control. We have management systems in place, and that’s helping, but we’re still having issues. I don’t know where to begin to get a handle on this.” —John Q. CEO.

Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. Many business owners and CEOs make the effort to implement business management and supply chain systems. It’s a worthwhile investment. Naturally, those systems must be periodically audited to ensure compliance. What do you do when your company passes all the audits and still develops issues, however? All the boxes are checked, but the number of widgets being rejected by your quality control department is getting worrisome. You don’t want to even think about warranty issues with that new contract you just landed. Blaming your system may be the natural thing to do, but it may be that customizing the audit, rather than criticizing the system, is the ticket to getting your operations back on track.

Jess Scheer’s picture

By: Jess Scheer


he world’s worst-kept business secret is that most acquisitions fail. Depending on what metric you use to evaluate success, mergers miss their intended goals by as much as 85 percent of the time. With a failure rate that high, there’s no single cause, and there’s no silver bullet that will guarantee successful post-merger integration. When you read the postmortems on failed business combinations, it’s clear that the role of process management is too often overlooked as a strategy to reduce risk.

What could possibly go wrong when you ignore process tenets? Everything.

Case in point. Last week, I had dinner with an old friend who was exhausted after working all day—on his day off. Ever since his company was acquired, he spends his day putting out fires and consoling his demoralized colleagues. His business, a once-profitable midsized manufacturing company, is now a place where people cry—almost every day.

On paper, the acquisition made sense. A larger company needed greater manufacturing capacity to fulfill a new client’s purchase order. My friend’s business had excess capacity and the equipment necessary to make the products. What could possibly go wrong?

Andrew Hughes’s picture

By: Andrew Hughes

So much has been written about the Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) that separating the wheat from the chaff is becoming an ever more gargantuan task. The problem is complicated by the fact that the IoT in consumer markets is hyped beyond comprehension. Although the potential benefits are real, let’s not get ahead of ourselves in believing that the Internet of Things (IoT) will instantly solve all manufacturing and business problems across the world.

Tim Healey’s picture

By: Tim Healey

Visual management is increasingly common in offices implementing lean. Yet even though signs, large LCD displays, whiteboards, and charts dominate the wall space, these tools often become part of the wallpaper. After just a few months, many offices revert back to meetings and management to provide information and services within the company or, more important, to the customer.

This breakdown often results from a lack of understanding about why visual management is important in the first place. Defining operational excellence as “when each and every employee can see the flow of value and fix problems before the flow breaks down” goes a long way toward explaining why visuals are important, but the complete answer is more complex.

Nero Haralalka’s picture

By: Nero Haralalka

Double-digit productivity improvements resulting from workflow redesigns and new-capital equipment investments always get a lot of attention. But over time the returns from many smaller, more methodical changes and investments can rival more highly visible projects. Total productivity maintenance (TPM), for both existing and new equipment, offers just such an opportunity.

At the heart of an effective TPM program is the core understanding that equipment can be maintained to perform reliably with high levels of quality for many years. The five pillars of TPM are autonomous care, planned maintenance, preventive maintenance, education, and quality.

For preventive maintenance and other purposes, one of the key elements of TPM is tracking overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), which combines machine availability, performance and quality metrics. Machine availability reports time lost due to planned and unplanned downtime, including setup time, in a given period. Machine performance helps identify losses due to jams and minor stoppages that result in slower speeds than what’s standard. And the quality component of OEE exposes losses due to defects or material loss.

Will Huggett’s picture

By: Will Huggett

My client, a leader in innovative rail-friction management, was recently preparing for an integrated ISO 14001/OHSAS 18001 audit, and I was asked to provide on-site training to help prepare their employees. The company and its staff are well-versed in audits, having been registered under ISO 9001 for several years. In addition to the required environmental, health, and safety (EHS) awareness training, I was also asked to provide my thoughts on what to expect during the upcoming audit.

As a certification auditor, I have noticed that those in companies who have experienced smooth audits in the past tend to approach upcoming audits with a different mentality than those who may have had less-than-ideal experiences. I’m not just talking about whether or not a company achieves certification, but rather what it ends up with in terms of meaningful results that actually help improve its management system.

Multiple Authors
By: Darin Marcuz, Laron Colbert

This article describes a novel approach to calculating the financial aspect of overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), with the result referred to as $EE (as in monetary units). By using $EE, a management team readily can “SEE” their operation in financial terms. Employees are then better able to focus on underperforming operations to improve the bottom line.

The formula for calculating OEE is straightforward, and the product of factors (with units in per cent) is a very useful metric. In modern manufacturing, challenges arise when setting cycle time targets, measuring quality, or objectively classifying downtime. When these problems have been overcome, companies then face the issue of where to direct resources to improve the bottom line. The solution is to use $EE.

Background and practical limitations of OEE

In many businesses there is a communication breakdown between the front office and the shop floor which arises by coincidence. Because the three OEE production metrics (performance, yield, and availability) are not expressed in monetary units, daily efforts to improve processes using OEE alone do not always translate into significant bottom-line savings.

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