Managing Performance through the 7 Quality Control Tools
Managing performance requires that we have easy to use tools to gather and anlayse our data. The 7 Quality Control tools invented by Ishikawa allows us to gather and analyse performance data on the factors that truly affect our business. We can then create meaningful metrics (KPIs) that are good indicators of the health of our operations. We can create Dashboards to help us quickly visualize if, when and where a problem may be occurring.
Raffy Pefianco of RMP Consultancy conducting 7 QC Tools Training at Coral Bay Nickel Corp
Where 7 QC Tools is Helpful
This is where a working knowledge of the 7 QC Tools is very helpful. While many writers may say that management is an art and not a science, the 7 QC tools were designed precisely to help management in its decision making. Without these tools we may be relying mainly on intuition, gut feel or a belief that history will simply repeat itself.
Before computers became commonplace, data analysis was indeed very difficult. In the older movies, we can often see the company geek as the guy with the MBA, the colored pens in his shirt pocket and the scientific calculator. He did all the hard computational work. The manager then used his gut feel to make a final decision.
In today’s highly connected world, it is has become a lot easier to gather the data we need to make better informed decisions. So the question has become, exactly data do we need to gather and what do we do with it?
History of the 7 QC Tools
In the 1960’s, Kaoru Ishikawa, then head of the Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers (JUSE) introduced the use of the seven quality control (7QC) tools. His thinking was quality should be controlled at the operator level and that tools needed to be in place for the early detection of problems. The tools he developed d were based on the quality philosophies developed by Walter Shewhart and W Edward Deming during the 1930s and 1940s.
He designed the tools to be simple enough so that the average Japanese worker could use them successfully. The tools can be used by people with little formal training in statistics to solve the vast majority of quality-related issues. These tools have since proven their worth in manufacturing and are now being applied in service, BPO, and sales industries as well.
The 7 Basic Quality Tools
- Check sheet
- Pareto diagram
- Cause and Effect Diagram
- Scatter Plot
- Control Charts
Details of the 7 Basic Quality Tools
A check sheet is a form for collecting and analyzing data. This is a generic tool that can be adapted for a wide variety of purposes. It is used to shows the history of a process and possibly the pattern of variations. This tool is used to identify the problems and collect data easily.
The Pareto Diagram or chart is named after Wilfredo Pareto, the Italian economist who discovered the 80 / 20 principle or the rule of the significant few. The Pareto chart is used to define which of our problems are the most significant and rank them according to priority. This allows us to concentrate our efforts on the few factors that have the greatest impact rather than on the many with little impact.
Cause and Effect Diagram
This is called the “fishbone chart” because of its appearance or the Ishikawa chart after Kaoru Ishikawa who popularized its use in Japan. This tool is used to show the possible causes of a problem. It allows a team to identify, explore, and graphically display, in increasing detail, all of the possible causes related to a problem or condition and to ultimately discover its root cause or causes.
This tool is used to show how often and when a problem occurs. The histogram looks very much like a bar chart. It is used when numerical data is available. The histogram is often used to tell us if our process can meet the customer’s requirements. It can also be used in analyzing our supplier’s performance.
Scatter Plot or Diagram
The scatter diagram is a graphical tool that plots many data points and shows a pattern of correlation between two variables. It shows the pattern of relationship between two variables that are thought to be related. For a linear relationship, the closer the points are to a diagonal line, the more closely there is a one-to-one relationship.
A process flow chart graphically shows the inputs, actions done, and the outputs of a given system. The purpose of flow chart is to help people to understand the process and see where in the process improvements can be made.
Graphs are among the simplest and best techniques to analyze and display data. Additionally if allows for easy communication in a visual format. The resulting data can be shown graphically using bar graphs, line charts, pie charts and control charts.
Control charts are statistical tools used to analyze and understand process variables. It is used mainly to determine if a process is within statistical control or going out of control. It is important to realize that this is not the same as tracking if the output is within the customer’s specifications. Rather the control chart is used to determine if process variation that can be classified as the result of either common causes or because of special causes.
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