/resources/image/template/step.png Process Improvement Quality Tools

Process Improvement Quality Tools

There is a host of tools and techniques that can be used in association with any process improvement initiative.

These process improvement quality tools and techniques are normally very simple to use, and often form part of a scheme to find root causes and gain ideas about how to address problems.

These tools are often used within groups to help find methods of understanding how a process works and then how to improve the process.

Quality / process improvements tools list

A list of some of the tools that are available to help with quality and process improvement is given below.

  • Benchmarking: Benchmarking is a quality tool that involves measuring a process and then analyzing its performance so that it can be compared to industry standard performance levels and also to compare with any changes made to see the effect of improvements.
  • Brainstorming: Brainstorming is a methodology or quality tool used with a group to find a solution to a specific problem by gathering ideas spontaneously contributed by the group members. Ideas, regardless of their value are put up - a key issue is that all ideas are accepted and none are criticized (often the unusual ideas may form the basis of a solution as further ideas develop the original concept). Once the ideas have been gathered they can be grouped and analyzed.
  • Cause and effect diagram / fishbone: The fishbone or cause and effect quality tool is a way of representing an issue that draws out the cause or causes of a problem. The tool helps focus on the details of the problem by providing a way to follow issues down to the possible details of the root cause.
  • Flowcharts: Flowcharts are an important quality tool for process improvement. They enable the process to be drawn out in a logical fashion so that they major stages within the process can be seen. They key with any process map or flowchart is to select the important stages and to be able to summarize the process accurately without over-complicating the diagram.
  • Pareto analysis chart: A Pareto chart is a form of chart that contains both bars and a line graph, where individual values are represented in descending order by bars, and the cumulative total is represented by the line - in this way the leftmost bars are the highest and the ones that need addressing first. Typically the failures in a given process are plotted in the vertical axis, and the vertical bars are failures arising from a given cause. The line graph then gives the cumulative number of failures.
  • PDCA, PDSA cycle: The Plan; Do; Check; Act cycle is a cycle that can be used in any process improvement initiative. Often it may also be referred to as Plan; Do; Study; Act, PDSA or the Deming wheel, or the Shewhart cycle as a result of people who worked on developing the concepts and ideas.
  • Scatter diagram: A scatter diagram is a form of diagram where the results of measurements made can be plotted to see the main areas where the results fall. The scatter of the results can be seen.
  • Total Quality Management, TQM: TQM is based upon the idea that the ultimate quality of a product is the responsibility of all involved in the organization. It involves all processes and people. Hence the name total quality management.
  • Kaizen: Kaizen is the Japanese for "improvement", or "change for the better." The philosophy involves a focus on continuous improvement of processes in manufacturing, engineering, and business management.
  • Six Sigma: Six Sigma is a process improvement methodology, originally developed within Motorola to significantly improve its product quality. This form of process improvement It aims to improve process quality by identifying and removing the causes of defects and minimizing variability in the various processes used.
  • Quality Circles: Quality circles are a form of process improvement scheme whereby employees undertaking the actual work form groups under the leadership of a team leader. They discuss and seek to improve the processes they are working on. The idea is that as they do the work, they are the experts and they can often see ways of achieving process improvement that management may not be able to envisage.

These include just a few of the widely used process improvement tools or quality tools that are available.

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