Quality Improvements in Information Development


Milhaven, Kathleen R.   (1988, ASQC)   IBM Corp., Kingston, NY

Annual Quality Congress, Dallas TX    Vol. 42    No. 0
QICID: 3459    May 1988    pp. 435-439
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Article Abstract

The quality of information is vital to the image, acceptance, and ultimate success of a product in an information oriented society. Virtually every product produced today, whether it is hardware or software, has some form of accompanying information. This information may be online displays to guide a user through required tasks, videos to introduce a product or make learning easier, brochures, or manuals. In IBM Kingston, Information Development has applied quality improvement techniques to the information development process. These techniques include customer "partnership", process analysis, and setting quality objectives. The results have been improved quality of information and increased customer-satisfaction.

We are constantly analyzing our process to determine how we can improve the information we provide. A major area of improvement is to enhance our customer partnerships by adding measurements to our process that reflect customers' needs and expectations. Only when we truly understand customers' requirements, can we properly develop and test the product. The information should meet objectives that we establish based on customer expectations. Another area of improvement is in testing. Our testing efforts help us evaluate the usability of information from the customers' point of view. We also collect data on the number of "defects" we find at key points in our process. Using this data, we can pinpoint problems in our process and take steps to correct them. Our quality goal is to find errors earlier in the cycle when we can correct them more easily. The positive aspect of these measurements is to help us improve our process and ultimately improve the quality of our information.

In addition to providing information to meet customers' needs and establishing testing objectives based on customers' expectations, we use customer feedback to determine how satisfied our customers are with the information. We obtain feedback from customer visits, customer surveys, questionnaires, 800 numbers, and reads' comment forms. Analysis of feedback data provides a measure of product improvement. By providing the link between IBM technology and the customer, IBM Kingston Information Development is enhancing the customer partnerships' approach to quality.

Information quality is more than not making errors - it is the reflection of successful communication techniques. Consistent with the theme of the 42nd Annual Quality Congress, our quality improvement program also keeps track of our positive accomplishments and reflects quality improvements and information "pluses." The positive response the quality challenge is finding ways to communicate better. This paper describes how IBM Kingston Information Development is attempting to meet this challenge.


Electronic data systems

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