Ton Van der Wiele, Erasmus University; Alan Brown, Edith Cowan University; Robert Millen, Northeastern University; and Daniel Whelan, Boston Section, ASQ
Quality award models, such as the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, have stimulated considerable interest in quality management and provided guidelines for organizations seeking to introduce quality management. The notion of self-assessment has been adopted by companies throughout the world as a mechanism for guiding the development of such quality activities. This involves regular and systematic reviews of an organizations activities and performance against a quality model, usually based on an award, culminating in planned improvement actions.
In this paper the authors discuss the self-assessment practices of U.S. companies based on a questionnaire survey. A range of issues is discussed including why self-assessment was introduced, how it is used, and outcomesincluding the impact on organizational performance.
The survey data suggest that self-assessment is linked to better-performing companies. The data also highlight some of the self-assessment practices that are used by organizations in their quest to put meaning to quality.
Self-assessment is clearly defined in organizations as a management issue aimed at increasing quality awareness, driving the quality improvement activities, and improving business performance. Many survey respondents are familiar with the Baldrige Award model (and others) and the underlying criteria that help to assess the organization. Many organizations have adopted these and other criteria for their internal self-assessment process.
Specifically, this study found the benefits of self-assessment to include the following:
Most interestingly, those utilizing self-assessment reported greater returns on sales than those firms not utilizing self-assessment.
Focus on the Classroom
Developing Control Charts and Illustrating Type I and Type II Errors
Elisabeth J. Umble, Texas A&M University, and M. Michael Umble, Baylor University
In this article, Umble and Umble describe an entertaining class exercise that effectively illustrates the development of control charts, the impact of various levels of significance, and the two types of errors that can be made when using control charts. Actual sample data drawn from a sampling bowl in an in-class simulation are used to construct control charts for proportion defective. Then, how subsequent draws from the sampling bowl can result in either a correct decision that the process remains in control or a Type I error is illustrated.
The proportion defective in the bowl is increased to simulate a process mean shift and illustrate how the new data can result in a correct decision that the process is out of control or a Type II error. This exercise also generates valuable insights about the tradeoffs between significance levels and Type I and Type II errors.
Specifying the control limits is one of the critical decisions that must be made in designing a control chart. Clearly, there is a tradeoff between committing a Type I and a Type II error. By moving the control limits further from the estimated process mean, the authors decrease the risk of a Type I errorthe risk of a point falling beyond the control limits, indicating an out-of-control condition, when no assignable (or specific findable) cause is present. However, widening the control limits also increases the risk of a Type II errorthe risk of a point falling between the control limits when the process is really out of control. If tighter control limits are used, the opposite effect occurs: The risk of Type I error increases while the risk of Type II error decreases.
Zeljko M. Torbica, Florida International University, and Robert C. Stroh, University of Florida
Improving customer satisfaction has been identified as one of the most important challenges facing businesses. Keeping customers satisfied is rapidly becoming the way companies differentiate themselves from competitors. In this article, Torbica and Stroh describe the development of a 51-item instrument, called HOMBSAT, for assessing home-buyer satisfaction. A model was proposed describing home-buyer satisfaction as a three-dimensional composite of satisfaction with design, house, and service. The instrument was found to be both valid and reliable. The paper concludes with a discussion of potential applications of the instrument. These include the following:
T. Fiekers, Research Institute Technology and Work, University of Kaiserslautern; B. G. Dale, Manchester School of Management, UMIST; D. A. Littler, Manchester School of Management, UMIST; and W. Voß, Research Institute Technology and Work, University of Kaiserslautern
This article reports the main findings of a benchmarking study on the postgraduate admission process of higher education institutions. The project has involved three departments at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST), eight specialist masters programs within the Manchester School of Management (MSM), and five other universities in the United Kingdom, Germany, Hong Kong, and Spain. The work was undertaken as part of a European Union Leonardo da Vinci-founded project. The first four steps of the benchmarking process have been completed, namely the selection of the subject and the partners, and the collection and analysis of data. While the process is not yet complete it is felt that important lessons are worth reporting. These include the applicability and feasibility of benchmarking to higher education, and the suitability of the various types of benchmarking, in particular internal benchmarking to this environment.
From the application of the first four steps of Camps (1989) benchmarking concept to the postgraduate admission process the following lessons have been learned with regard to its applicability to higher education.