QP Reviews

Performance Appraisal Source Book

Mike Deblieux, Society for Human Resource Management, 1800 Duke St., Alexandria, VA 22314, 2003, 240 pp., $42.95 (book with CD-ROM).

In Performance Appraisal Source Book: A Collection of Practical Samples, Mike Deblieux shares his more than 30 years of HR management experience to address the ever dreaded employee performance appraisal. He combines solid principles about the importance of performance appraisal with 41 sample forms that represent the best from several contributing HR professionals.

The first part includes a summary of how to design an overall performance appraisal system, key legal concerns, how to make the appraisal effective, planning and finalizing the review and considerations after a review's completion. Throughout this pragmatic synopsis, he emphasizes the key principles of clear communication, involvement of employees in the process before the last step, various approaches to frequency of reviews and different ways of integrating performance review with salary review.

The second part contains the sample forms, including forms for introductory period reviews, employee input to the review, mid-year reviews, job trait or competency based reviews, job duty or goal based reviews, supervisor and manager reviews, upward reviews, 360-degree reviews, reviews of exempt employees and job specific reviews. All forms and tools are also on the accompanying CD-ROM in PDF and rich text format.

Deblieux's handy guidebook is a marvelous introduction on how to design and carry out an effective, professional performance appraisal system. This book belongs in the collections of all HR development professionals, staff and management development trainers and HR consultants.

Dale Farris
Groves, TX

Correct! Prevent! Improve!

Jeanne Ketola and Kathy Roberts, ASQ Quality Press, 600 N. Plankinton Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53203, 2003, 128 pp., $20 member, $25 list (book).

Correct! Prevent! Improve! Driving Improvement Through Problem Solving and Corrective and Preventive Action is a handy reference that is easy to understand and loaded with case studies and practice sessions. Chapters include helpful summaries and skill builders, so readers can apply the lessons to their work environments.

Ketola and Roberts address the philosophy of continuous improvement and how corrective and preventive actions play a pivotal role in a successful quality management system (QMS). The basic concepts are referenced to the appropriate sections of ISO 9001:2000.

The most useful sections deal with the five-step problem solving process, basic problem solving tools and the use of teams in the problem solving process. There are numerous forms and flowcharts for developing concise documentation in a quality management system.

I would recommend this book to anyone implementing an ISO 9001: 2000 QMS or seeking additional insight on how to best achieve continual improvement in a QMS.

Robby Noake

Successful Application Of Quality Systems In K-12 Schools

ASQ Education Division, ASQ Quality Press, 600 N. Plankinton Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53203, 2003, 176 pp., $26 members, $32.50 list (book).

I liked this book and was greatly encouraged by it. There are educators out there trying to make things better in our schools. They have a theory, they see education as a system, and they apply the scientific method to make changes that lead to improvement.

The book is a collection of success stories organized according to eight principles: information and analysis; process management; leadership; student and stakeholder focus; empowering teachers and staff; partnerships; continual process improvement; and systems perspective. Readers familiar with the Baldrige criteria and the Koalaty Kid program will recognize these principles. That these principles support each other as a system is the heart of this book.

I have no criticisms, given the authors' intent. I recommend this book particularly to educators looking for an improvement method, and also to parents, who should be paying attention to what is happening at school. This book will help a parent ask some tough and useful questions.

The authors note in the preface they have purposely avoided writing a how-to or cookbook. There are certainly enough of those out there. The authors, all educators, "spent many hours doing the extra work required, were often discouraged, and sometimes had to start over. It took a long time. There were no shortcuts and no quick fixes, only many hours of hard work and some frustration." No instant pudding.

Steven Byers
Olympia, WA

Case Studies in Reliability And Maintenance

Wallace R. Blischke and D.N. Prabhakar Murthy, eds., John Wiley and Sons, 111 River St., Hoboken, NJ 07030, 2003, 696 pp., $105 (book).

This is a very comprehensive text that covers many aspects of reliability in detail with--for the first time--concrete case examples.

It opens with a chapter on the importance of reliability testing and an overview of the types of cases included. Each following chapter covers a particular reliability problem and solution.

The book is divided into sections that follow reliability testing from design to warranty, including development, failure analysis, maintenance and operations optimization. Each section has case studies examining different aspects of reliability within the topic, different industrial applications or different methodologies. The book is very thorough and includes examples from a variety of low tech and high tech industries.

The level of presentation is fairly sophisticated. For example, the topic of information fusion for damage prediction covers the problem formulation using Bayesian techniques in detail but does not spend much time on standard binomial techniques, which are assumed to be known to the reader already.

Because of this, the book is best for statisticians or scientists with knowledge of statistical techniques and applications. It could also be used in an advanced or graduate reliability course, although an accompanying CD-ROM or website with the data and models available for downloading would be useful.

Overall, this is an excellent resource for a statistician or engineer researching or working in reliability.

I. Elaine Allen
Babson College
Wellesley, MA

The Customer Care and Contact Center Handbook

Garry Schultz, ASQ Quality Press, 600 N. Plankinton Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53203, 2003, 288 pp., $28 member, $35 list (book).

This book, while called a handbook, might also be called a battle plan for call centers. Schultz has spent more than 20 years in the field, and it's obvious he has a deep appreciation of the ins and outs of running a customer call center. In fact, he depicts the customer call center as the central nervous system of the organization. Schultz covers the subject logically, moving from creating call centers, to their basic structure, standard procedures, performance metrics, and training and testing.

Chapter 2 covers best practices and lessons learned as the author delves into everything from the business model to escalations to hiring the staff and how to perform exit interviews. Chapter 4, on metrics, is also particularly useful. Schultz provides insight on benchmarks and continuous improvement possibilities.

Schultz also addresses the negative aspect of working in and managing a call center and the positive effect a good manager can have to create a competitive advantage.

I found the organization within individual chapters hard to follow. Each chapter begins with a short objective summary and then jumps headlong into sections that only loosely support the learning objective. Each chapter ends with endnotes that summarize the chapter at a high level.

As a primer for call center setup and operation, the book covers almost everything in the organization from a call center perspective. It is a valuable tool for executives involved in the battle of the call centers.

Bill Baker

The Power of Design For Six Sigma

Subir Chowdhury, Dearborn Trade Publishing, 155 N. Wacker Dr., Chicago, IL 60606, 2003, 148 pp., $17.95 (book).

Subir Chowdhury states there is a limit to the improvements that can be achieved through the Six Sigma process, and those limits are born in the design phase. In his latest book, Chowdhury provides an overview of design for Six Sigma (DFSS), which can be used to counter this limitation.

Chowdhury allows the reader to listen in on a coffee shop discussion between two friends. In the course of that conversation, we learn how DFSS can be implemented and what benefits can be gained.

In addition to serving as the backdrop for the conversation, the coffee shop is also a source for examples of how DFSS can be applied, as Chowdhury draws on the design of processes at a fictional national coffee shop chain. These examples highlight the ability of DFSS to be applied in areas beyond hardware design.

Chowdhury also stresses DFSS can be applied whether or not the Six Sigma improvement process has been implemented. His commonsense approach can be applied to any situation.

This short, informative book is a useful introduction to DFSS. The use of a conversational format makes it very easy to read and brings the concepts to an easy-to-understand level. While it doesn't provide the details necessary to implement DFSS--Chowdhury provides separate references for that--it could be used to establish a case for the application of DFSS.

Rich Anderson
Tucson, AZ

The Power of Ultimate Six Sigma

Keki Bhote, Amacom, 1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, 2003, 256 pp., $29.95 (book).

While there are many books that discuss how to apply Six Sigma principles, The Power of Ultimate Six Sigma: Keki Bhote's Proven System for Moving Beyond Quality Excellence to Total Business Excellence kicks the use of this methodology up a notch. It is a logical follow-up to The Ultimate Six Sigma, also by Bhote.

Bhote has long been recognized as one of the fathers of the Six Sigma revolution at Motorola. In this guide, he takes the Six Sigma methods out of the manufacturing area and demonstrates how they have a much broader application across all business processes and beyond.

It is a practical, easy-to-follow guide for addressing two expanded themes: using Six Sigma not only to profit at the business level, but also to contribute solutions to the world's social and economic issues; and introducing 200 ways to help a struggling business achieve both maximum customer loyalty and profits. This is certainly a tall order for any business or how-to book.

The key to this guide is the presentation of the success factors discussed in the original book reorganized into key disciplines as they relate to the support of four distinct areas: stakeholders, high-octane techniques, major line functions and results.

This book obviously assumes the reader's company is already a practitioner and supporter of Six Sigma and the "ultimate" process. It makes for interesting and thought provoking reading, whether or not Bhotes' ideas are ultimately achievable.

Linda Cubalchini-Travis
Simi Valley, CA


Collaborative Planning, Forecasting, and Replenishment: How To Create a Supply Chain Advantage, Dirk Seifert, Jim McLaughlin, Joseph C. Andraski, Amacom, 1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, 2003, 375 pp., $44.95 (book).

Implementing a Mixed Model Kanban System: The Lean Replenishment Technique for Pull Production, James C. Vatalaro and Robert E. Taylor, Productivity Press, 444 Park Ave. South, Suite 604, New York, NY 10016, 2003, 128 pp., $45 (book with CD-ROM).

Real Numbers: Management Accounting in a Lean Organization, Jean Cunningham and Orest Fiume, Managing Times Press, 4400 Ben Franklin Blvd., Durham, NC 27704, 2003, 184 pp., $27.50 (book).

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