Kern, Jean Phelps (1993, ASQC) Digital Equipment Corporation; Stow, MA
Process improvements in the publishing business of the American Society for Quality Control (ASQC) occurred through a problem solving approach in which a quality progress team of staff and volunteers identified and corrected problems in three areas. For example, reviews of manuscripts submitted to the periodical Quality Progress took longer and longer as more manuscripts were submitted. The team drew a flow diagram of the review process, identified bottlenecks, and brainstormed improvements. They suggested that reviewers use conference calls, which helped reduce the review process time by 75%. This solution produced positive side effects, such as reviewers learning from each others' techniques. A second area of analysis was the slow production cycle of the Quality Press. Using a flow chart of the process, the quality progress team saw that all manuscripts went through the same process, regardless of complexity. Improvements, such as different processes for short, average, and long manuscripts reduced the production cycle by 30%. The third area of improvement was the publications quarterly report. Originally consisting of long pages of prose, the improved report contained graphs and bulleted highlights. The impetus for the changes came from asking the readers what they needed to see in the report. Improvements in the three areas led to increased satisfaction in the publication products for the internal customers, including authors, reviewers, headquarters staff, and executive committee.
Flowcharts,Problem solving,Process improvement