The Executive Guide To Improvement and Change
G. Dennis Beecroft, Grace L. Duffy, John W. Moran, eds., ASQ Quality Press, 600 N. Plankinton Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53203, 2003, 272 pp., $32 member, $40 list (book).
This book is written primarily for executives or senior managers to provide them with an understanding of various approaches to leading change and improvement in their organizations. It could also serve as a guide for middle managers as they progress into positions of increasing responsibility and leadership.
The book is broken into three sections--initiating change, the paths to implementation, and measuring and evaluating improvement. The first section addresses the need for organizations to be prepared for and embrace change as a vehicle for improvement. Chapters discuss problem solving, quality costs and supply chain management. The second section focuses on various approaches to change and improvement, such as teams, core process redesign and lean, as well as models and the use of external resources. The third section covers customer satisfaction, management audits, balanced scorecard and ways to get results on goal setting.
Although this isn't an ISO 9001:2000 guide, much of what is covered is included in ISO 9001:2000, particularly the section on management responsibility. The book covers many of the important areas an organization should keep in mind to progress and improve in today's business environment. It is well written and provides good examples to illustrate the concepts.
I recommend it for business executives and managers or anyone who is looking to change and improve an organization.
Project Management: A Systems Approach To Planning, Scheduling and Controlling
Harold Kerzner, John Wiley and Sons, 111 River St., Hoboken, NJ 07030, 2003, 912 pp., $80 (book with CD-ROM).
Project management is an essential element of Six Sigma implementation. This book, now in its eighth edition, provides numerous hands-on recommendations and checklists for project managers to consider from project conception to closing.
Since all projects are executed by people, Kerzner spends the first 10 chapters covering the political and psychological aspects of project management. These include the role of the project manager in relation to project team members and management, how an organization should be structured and how to resolve conflicts and manage time and stress.
Valuable topics in later chapters include planning, network scheduling techniques, pricing and estimating, risk management, quality management, and contract and procurement. At the end of each chapter, Kerzner provides case studies and problems that could serve as addendum material in a classroom.
After finishing this book, the reader should have general knowledge of project management. However, to apply many of the special tools mentioned, such as risk management, quality management and project evaluation and review technique charts, the project manager may need to enlist outside help.
Shin Ta Liu
Fundamentals of Project Management
James P. Lewis, Amacom, 1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, 2002, 128 pp., $14.95 (book).
The second edition of Fundamentals of Project Management: Developing Core Competencies To Outperform the Competition is a rather terse explanation of project management and an excellent guide for a new project manager or one who is brushing up prior to a new project. Although lean in his verbiage, Lewis delivers the principles needed to manage projects and avoid many of the possible pitfalls caused by upper management.
Lewis begins with problem definition and development of a mission, vision, goals and objectives for each project. He then discusses development of a work breakdown structure and scheduling of project work. He suggests several scheduling tools and discusses ways to deal with schedule variation. He also addresses the importance of project control with emphasis on constructive approaches to project reviews. A project analysis using one tool, earned value analysis, brings out some of the important aspects of project control.
The final chapter contains jewels that are alluded to in earlier chapters. Lewis deals with the avoidance of "witch hunts" to analyze schedule problems, the importance of management's attitude toward and knowledge of projects, commitment on the part of project team members, the development of champions and the importance of accurate measurement of project progress.
The management mantra advocated by this book fits well with Six Sigma planning, and I would have liked to see Lewis link his approach with Six Sigma. Still, the book can teach upper management a lot about successful project management. It contains a lot of wisdom at a small cost.
William F. Foster
Blueprint for Project Recovery
Ronald B. Cagle, Amacom, 1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, 2003, 304 pp., $59.95 (book with CD-ROM).
This book outlines actions necessary for any successful project but puts special emphasis on recovering projects that are behind schedule or over budget. This is not a troubleshooting guide but a treatise on the development of a successful methodology for analyzing projects and identifying steps to recover a project in distress.
The book and CD-ROM provide step-by-step instructions for determining tolerance conditions and restoring them to acceptability. However, these concepts can be used prior to project initiation to eradicate problems before they occur, improving quality and efficiency in the process.
The approach is a thorough and flexible process review that translates to successful project management in any industry whether or not a project is in trouble. Cagle provides techniques for managers to tailor processes to specific needs and diverse technical requirements. The CD-ROM includes forms and checklists that can be customized for any project, providing a valuable tool to the responsible manager.
The combination of the text and the interactive CD provides a great introductory tutorial for the new project manager, a checklist for the ongoing project manager and a quick-response recovery process for projects in trouble. The book is a must read for all project managers and the CD-ROM an exceptionally valuable tool.
James F. Jaquess
Electric Power Research Institute
Auditing Nuts and Bolts
Presented by Mike J. Micklewright, Quality Quest, 2116 N. Williamsburg, Arlington Heights, IL 60004, 2002, $395 (video).
Auditing Nuts and Bolts--A Video Training Program for Quality System Auditors includes a video, facilitator instructions and before and after tests. The video is divided into eight sections: why on earth would I want to become an auditor, auditor qualifications and skills, audit preparation, conducting the audit, recording nonconformities, closing meetings, audit follow-up and continual improvement of the audit systems. The facilitator's packet includes answers to the test questions, reference materials and samples of some documents.
The program can be used for training new auditors, improving the auditing skills of current auditors and increasing awareness of auditing systems. The presenter keeps the video simple and engaging, using a variety of different characters to keep interest. The content and depth of the material are just right for new auditors and can even be used to reinforce the auditing techniques and focus for current auditors.
The only thing that could be improved is the facilitator's instruction packet. It is missing details, such as a tentative agenda, length of the overall program and complete instructions.
Procter and Gamble
Laboratory Quality Assurance System
Thomas A. Ratliff, John Wiley and Sons, 111 River St., Hoboken, NJ 07030, 2003, 248 pp., $99.95 (book with CD-ROM).
Laboratory Quality Assurance System: A Manual of Quality Procedures and Forms is comprised of four parts: laboratory quality system elements, how to write a laboratory quality assurance manual, a sample laboratory quality assurance manual and sample quality assurance forms. The CD includes electronic copies of the sample forms.
The preface states this third edition will assist laboratories in the preparation of their quality assurance/control manuals if they are seeking ISO 9001:2000 accreditation. Although the book covers subjects such as customer relationships and continual improvement as set forth in the ISO 9001:2000 standard, it does not provide guidance for the identification of the laboratory processes and their interactions.
The information in the first two parts can be found in many publications covering the requirements of the ISO 9001:2000 standard.
The most useful portion is part three. It covers in sufficient detail requirements related to the subjects most laboratories are dealing with, including quality in procurement and chain of custody. Ratliff successfully leaves the reader with enough information to create a quality manual. However, had the accompanying CD included these procedures, the reader could have modified them and used them to meet specific conditions.
The book has many errors, including the referencing of incorrect form numbers and referenced forms not found where they should be. Also, the guidance on how to complete various forms is unnecessary. The book looks more like a first draft of a thesis document prepared a week before it was due.
Wait for a cleaner edition before investing in this book. Unless, of course, you are in desperate need, in which case you should ask for a 50% discount from the publisher.
The Certified Quality Technician Handbook
Donald Benbow, Ahmad Elshennawy and H. Fred Walker, ASQ Quality Press, 600 N. Plankinton Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53203, 2003, 213 pp., $48 members, $60 list (book with CD-ROM).
This book covers the subjects found in the body of knowledge (BOK) for ASQ's certified quality technician (CQT) exam. The chapters are organized in the same order as the BOK and do a fine job of illustrating each concept efficiently and effectively through brief examples and discussions. The appendices contain practical statistical tables and copies of the CQT BOK and ASQ code of ethics.
Anyone wishing to review the basic tools of quality will find this book useful and thorough. Each chapter is well illustrated with diagrams and charts and has complete citations for additional study along with a more than adequate reference list. One of the more valuable tools in the book is the tool matrix in the preventive and corrective action section.
Coverage is pointed primarily toward manufacturing, and there are not many references to the service sector or how to adapt the quality tools presented to nonwidget issues. The treatment of root cause analysis is very limited and, unfortunately, the last item in the book. The supplemental CD only contains a sample CQT exam, which could easily have been included as an appendix.
The book essentially meets its objectives. It is an excellent preparatory guide for the CQT exam and a good overall reference. I will refer to it often and loan it to those requesting help in understanding quality tools.
Marc A. Feldman
Architect of Quality: The Autobiography of Dr. Joseph M. Juran, Joseph M. Juran, McGraw-Hill, 2 Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10128, 2003, 350 pp., $24.95 (book).
Lean Lexicon: A Graphical Glossary for Lean Thinkers, Chet Marchwinski and John Shook, eds., Lean Enterprise Institute, PO Box 9, Brookline, MA 02446, 2003, 106 pp., $25 (book).
The Rhythm of Business: The Pursuit of Value, Jeffrey Schuman and Janice Twombly, EVO Knowledge, 247 S. State St., Ste. 1000, Chicago, IL 60604, 2003, $89.95 (software).
System Reliabilty Theory: Models, Statistical Methods and Applications, second edition, Marvin Rausand and Arnljot Hoyland, Wiley-Interscience, 111 River St., Hoboken, NJ 07030, 2004, 656 pp., $99.95 (book).