Innovations in Competitive Manufacturing

Paul M. Swamidass, American Management Association, 1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, 2002, 439 pp., $39.95 (book).

This book is a compilation of very well-written, concise articles by more than 40 management experts, primarily researchers from universities. Swamidass has done an excellent job of assembling these independent articles into an integrated text that is as useful on the job as it is for MBA students.

The articles provide in-depth discussions about myriad operations management topics, including several very detailed practical case studies. The case studies are diverse, including many familiar corporate names--Black and Decker, Taco Bell, IBM, Ford and Westinghouse. Swamidass includes the latest ideas in manufacturing technology, cost measurement, performance measurement, product design and supply chain dynamics. The 13 chapters are not arranged in any particular order, and each chapter deals with one standalone topic.

This is a must have tool for manufacturers, researchers and students. The book could be a vital resource for manufacturers trying to bring new products to market quickly, increase value and become more profitable and cost effective while maintaining a competitive global advantage.

James F. Jaquess
Electric Power Research Institute

Customer Satisfaction Toolkit for ISO 9001:2000

Sheila Kessler, ASQ Quality Press, 600 N. Plankinton Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53203, 2003, 80 pp., $20 member, $25 list (book).

The ISO 9001:2000 quality management standard has changed significantly from the 1994 version. This toolkit is a useful reference, resource and methodology for organizations to achieve best-in-class assessment according to the new requirement.

The way Kessler organizes her book is very helpful. She starts with an overview of the standard's new customer satisfaction requirement. She then goes into measurement methods and how to systemize the procedures of measuring and improving customer satisfaction, including the use of statistics to ensure measurements are properly optimized. She describes methods of obtaining data from customers using different survey techniques depending on the type of information needed. She then discusses analysis and interpretation of data and how to best present them throughout the organization. She ends by telling how to turn the results into action and improvement.

Kessler breaks the tools into two categories--easy and best-in-class. This gives an organization the option of using the best-in-class method for its most important customers and the easy method for occasional or noncritical customers. She points out advantages and disadvantages of both methods.

I would highly recommend this book whether or not you are trying to meet ISO 9001:2000 requirements. A high degree of customer satisfaction is basic to a successful business, and any organization would benefit from the tools presented. Kessler's straightforward approach makes it easy to get started and achieve results.

Eric Furness
Derco Aerospace

The Virtual Teams Guide-book for Managers

Herb Dreo, Pat Kunkel and Thomas Mitchell, ASQ Quality Press, 600 N. Plankinton Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53203, 2003, 127 pp., $12 member, $15 list (book).

This short, pocket-sized book is filled with hints on how to manage virtual teams. Virtual teams--groups of people who work together as a team but not located in the same facility--are becoming more common as staffing issues provide the reasons and technology provides the means.

The authors devote a chapter to each of the three major types of virtual team issues--process, people and technology. Process issues include roles, communication frequency and performance measures. The chapter on people issues discusses team member and leader attributes and organizational and national culture. The technology chapter provides communication suggestions, such as a virtual private network. The appendix is a checklist to guide team effectiveness.

This is an excellent introduction for a project manager in charge of his or her first virtual team or someone having problems related to a virtual team. It can be read quickly and is in an easy-to-use format that includes many lists and diagrams. It quickly gets into practical suggestions for real-world problems. It would even be helpful to the manager of a standard nonvirtual team in addressing and communicating team operating principles.

Carolyn Rodda Lincoln
Titan Corp.
Vienna, VA

The Internal Auditing Pocket Guide

J.P. Russell, ASQ Quality Press, 600 N. Plankinton Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53203, 2003, 167 pp., $12 member, $15 list (book).

There are several features that separate great pocket guides from average ones, such as:

  • Guidance on the topic covered is easy to find and follow.
  • There are sufficient checklists, protocols, forms and processes to build, enhance or refresh the reader's knowledge.
  • It's convenient to carry around--the author has concisely encapsulated the topic into a small space.

This pocket guide not only fits these criteria but also is a bargain. You get an entire course in auditing, including a pullout flowchart of the basic auditing process steps and 20 basic auditing principles. It addresses both the more formal external audit and the more frequently encountered internal audit. The guide differentiates between a process audit, a product and service audit, and a system audit.

It also tells how to improve your interpersonal relationships with the auditee organization. The insights on effective interviewing techniques, a common shortcoming in many audits, are especially helpful. Sticky situations, such as encountering unethical behavior, are nicely covered. The coverage of what to divulge to the auditee--and what not to--provides valuable guidance.

This guide fills a much needed gap between lengthy, convoluted texts on auditing and informal, often inconsistent, on-the-job auditing training. Every auditor should own a copy and use it frequently. It is difficult to imagine any auditing training given from this point on that would not include The Internal Auditing Pocket Guide as a mandatory text and reference. You just can't beat the information received for the price.

Russ Westcott
R.T. Westcott and Associates
Old Saybrook, CT

Lean Assembly: The Nuts And Bolts of Making Assembly Operations Flow

Michel Baudin, Productivity Press, 444 Park Ave. S., New York, NY 11016, 2002, 320 pp., $50 (book).

In Lean Assembly, Michel Baudin focuses on the "how-to" of creating flow in assembly operations. He describes characterizing product demand, matching the physical structure of the plant floor to the demand, working out the details of assembly tasks and incorporating mistake proofing into assembly operations. Critical concepts such as take time, line balancing and assembly cells are presented in great detail.

Virtually every page contains clear drawings or photographs to help the reader understand the concepts. While many books on lean manufacturing talk in generalities, this one is rich in details and excellent examples.

This book is for the lean practitioner looking to improve his or her assembly operations, and it belongs on the shop floor. Because of the high level of detail, Baudin's book is not for casual reading. Those new to lean should read a more basic book before this one.

Roger E. Olson
Systems Quality Consulting
Alta Loma, CA

The Black Belt Memory Jogger

GOAL/QPC, 2 Manor Parkway, Salem, NH 03079, 2002, 272 pp., $17.95 (book).

GOAL/QPC has published a series of memory joggers covering various quality subjects. In response to Six Sigma's growing popularity, this one deals with Black Belts. This small spiral bound book explains what Six Sigma is, the role of the Black Belt, project and process management and most of the tools required by a Black Belt.

The majority of the book--142 out of 266 pages--covers statistical techniques. Define, measure, analyze, improve and control processes demand the Black Belt master the use of statistical techniques beyond what is being taught in statistics 101. This small book introduces enough material to motivate the would-be Black Belt to learn more, but it does not take the place of rigorous training in statistics and process/project management.

I found one factual error: In the example on the bottom of page 64, the term "sigma value" is used. The correct term is "z value."

Since it is a memory jogger, it is not as rigorous as a textbook. This book is a very good source for an experienced or novice quality professional curious about what it takes to become a Black Belt.

Shin Ta Liu
Lynx Systems
San Diego

Sailing Through Six Sigma

Michael Brassard and Diane Ritter, Brassard and Ritter, LLC, PO Box 804, Marietta, GA 30127, 2002, 216 pp., $34.95 (book with CD-ROM).

Sailing Through Six Sigma: How the Power of People Can Perfect Processes and Drive Down Cost and its accompanying e-book deal with the challenges of Six Sigma's cultural demands. The book illustrates in detail how to commit to a Six Sigma management system. Brassard and Ritter go to great lengths to convince readers Six Sigma is the wave of the future in successful businesses.

The book provides a high level summary on how to deal with implementation and technical issues surrounding Six Sigma tools, techniques, processes and calculations. The CD and related website (which requires a license to use) provide additional support, taking the user as deep as required for a given situation. This is a valuable resource for career practitioners, as they need to stay current with the rapid changes in the field.

The material is easy to use, and information can be found quickly. The chapters crisply describe their purposes and provide big picture understanding of key activities, timing and milestones. Expert advice includes warnings based on the experts' organizationwide improvement programs. The final chapter provides many useful references and resources to help users learn more.

Organization executives and Six Sigma implementers should read this book to learn all about Six Sigma and the economic value of helping people perfect processes that drive down costs.

John Lanczycki
Creative Planners
Danbury, CT


Auditorias de Calidad para Mejorar la Productividad, tercera edition, Dennis Arter, ASQ Quality Press, 600 N. Plankinton Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53203, 2003, 168 pp., $30 member, $37.50 list (book).

Confessions of a Civil Servant: Lessons in Changing America's Government and Military, Bob Stone, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 4720 Boston Way, Lanham, MD 20706, 2003, 193 pp., $27.95 (book).

Fusion Management: Harnessing the Power of Six Sigma, Lean, ISO 9001:2000, Malcolm Baldrige, TQM and Other Quality Breakthroughs of the Past Century, Stanley A. Marash with Paul Berman and Michael Flynn, QSU Pubishing, 3975 University Dr., Ste. 230, Fairfax, VA 22030, 2003, 179 pp., $24.99 (book).

The Portable MBA in Project Management, Eric Verzuh, ed., John Wiley and Sons, 111 River St., Hoboken, NJ 07030, 2003, 400 pp., $34.95 (book).

Six Sigma and Related Studies in the Quality Disciplines: The Best on Quality Book Series of the International Academy for Quality, Volume 14, Kenneth Stevens, ed., ASQ Quality Press, 600 N. Plankinton Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53203, 2003, 241 pp., $28 member, $35 list (book).

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