iGrafx: Solutions for Process Excellence

Corel Inc., 2005, licenses vary in price (software).

The iGrafx software package of tools for business processes advertises itself as allowing companies to gain a competitive advantage through process excellence. Given the power of the tools provided, this might be possible.

The product is well designed and does not take too much time for the user to be up and running. However, there is a learning curve to integrate this software with your existing business systems. Help is provided in a guide, and customer service phone support also is available to users. Legacy systems in a business may take a longer time to integrate.

Another clear advantage to this software is its seamless integration with Minitab and JMP for more sophisticated data summaries or analyses. This is great for the application of Six Sigma processes in which you wish to create more sophisticated models after examining the iGrafx results.

Immediately after installing iGrafx, you can build process capability maps through the flowcharter module. The interface with Microsoft Excel allows for import and export of data, and the module itself will roll up the value stream map. Through the simulation capabilities of the process module you can examine and assign risks in the process as well as model and simulate service oriented architecture.

Overall, this is an extremely powerful and user friendly software application for business process analysis. The graphics integrated into the package cover a large range. For the power user, this sometimes cannot replace, but always complements, statistical and simulation software. iGrafx can definitely replace project management and process flowcharting software.

I. Elaine Allen
Babson College
Wellesley, MA

The Ice Cream Maker

Subir Chowdhury, Currency, 2005, 128 pp., $16.95 (book).

Chowdhury provides a short but effective business tool that serves up meaningful insights into the world of quality with The Ice Cream Maker: An Inspiring Tale About Making Quality The Key Ingredient in Everything You Do.

He has created a remarkable parable that focuses on what American businesses must do to instill quality into their products and services. While American businesses can claim a hold on innovation, frequently these new markets are lost to other countries that have learned to manufacture higher quality products and services more quickly and cheaply.

Chowdhury combines his key principles into a simple, compelling story of a struggling U.S. regional ice cream manufacturer, determined to sell its product to a flourishing national grocery chain, realizes the need to integrate quality throughout its operations to be considered by this major potential buyer.

Readers will be engaged by the ongoing dialogue between the story’s main characters that also teaches Chowdhury’s LEO concept, which means listen to the customer (external and internal), enrich your products or services and optimize the customer experience. Along the way, readers will learn details about how to structure these principles into operational reality. The main concept drives home the point of building quality into every aspect of an organizational culture.

Chowdhury provides an insight into quality leadership in this easy-to-read, metaphorical approach. I highly recommended this book for all quality professionals.

Dale Farris
Groves, TX

Everyday Excellence

Clive Shearer, ASQ Quality Press, 2006, 272 pp., $24 member, $40 list (book).

Everyday Excellence: Creating a Better Workplace through Attitude, Action and Appreciation is not a typical quality instruction book. It covers the soft stuff that is hard to get right in management. It provides short, easy-to-understand lessons that can be read in any order.

Shearer offers departments required for a successful business and suggestions for process, content and improvement. The book aims toward forming effective relationships and operating efficiently to promote success and accomplishment by all.

The book’s initial setup implies an ongoing story ultimately fitting together, providing a series of lessons to be learned from the completion of a single project. This is not the case. A loose background story does progress but represents only segments of the process. There is no single, major goal achieved at the end of the book other than business continuing.

Shearer defines each enterprise activity and presents proven practices in to-the-point suggestions. There are no subtle hints at a preferred path. Options are spelled out, pros and cons discussed and possible outcomes revealed. Shearer discloses his own experiences, but this doesn’t detract from the book’s effectiveness.

Everyone will benefit from reading this book. The information is well planned and suitable for the business of life, in which we can all use a refresher course. If the reader can positively implement 50% of the advice given, prognosis is good for a long, prosperous career.

Marc A. Feldman
Solvay Chemicals
Houston, TX

A Service Design for Six Sigma

Basem El-Haik and David M. Roy, Wiley-Interscience, 2005, 448 pp., $84.95 (book).

Service Design for Six Sigma: A Roadmap for Excellence provides a roadmap for design for Six Sigma (DFSS) in service oriented processes. The book begins with a discussion on the origin and philosophy of the deployment of Six Sigma to achieve process and product quality. It lays out ICOV (identify, conceptualize or characterize, optimize and verify) as the basic deployment process, specifically as it applies to designing service oriented processes.

El-Haik and Roy introduce the concept of transfer function, describing how to map from one design domain to the next layer of design domain. This sequence of mapping is a design realization process necessary to carry out the design of a final process or product to fulfill the voice of the customer. These are the key steps in discovering and establishing the parameters in each of the domains, focusing on customer, functional, physical and process requirements.

As soon as the basic DFSS processes are explained, the latter part of the book concentrates on the tools assisting in the implementation. The tools include quality function deployment, process modeling, TRIZ (a Russian acronym for the theory of inventive problem solving), design for excellence, design of experiments, concept of design robustness and discrete event simulation. The final step of verification also is discussed.

A full supply chain design offers an example of applying the concepts and tools being discussed. The key to successfully applying this engineering concept in the service industry is knowing how to identify the parameters that can fully represent the service requirement at its appropriate levels.

This book provides great reference for managers and quality professionals in need of a guide to develop a Six Sigma process in the service industry.

Shin Ta Liu
Lynx Systems
San Diego, CA

Quality Makes Money

Pat Townsend and Joan Gebhardt, ASQ Quality Press, 2006, 152 pp., $17 member, $28 list (book).

Quality Makes Money: How To Involve Every Person on the Payroll in a Complete Quality Process (CQP) is a skinny book providing profound insight, a big success story and a guided tour of what a CQP is and how it works. It is the ongoing results of Townsend and Gebhardt’s experience and observations of how to involve every person on the payroll in a CQP. What’s more, this is not another manufacturing application of quality principles and practices.

The reader is escorted from the vision through planning, commitment and implementation, leadership issues, accomplishment and recognition, and measurement of outcomes achieved. Emphasis is on total involvement of all people at all levels. CQP is not something you volunteer for. It is not the province of a select few individuals. CQP is not an add-on or an extracurricular activity. It is the way all work is done by all employees, all the time.

CQP is not isolated applications of process improvement techniques and tools. Where total quality management often fails because of fragmentation and installation focused mentality, CQP assertively infuses the whole organization with an integrated force—a changed culture.

The CQP approach permits the inclusion of virtually all quality related techniques and tools developed over the years. However, it is emphasized that no single tool will solve all problems. This book is about building a solid foundation that is adaptable to continual change. This is a book about making and managing cultural change. It is a must read for every quality professional who has the courage and stamina to influence a major organizational change—and make quality make money.

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


  • Avoiding the Corporate Death Spiral: Recognizing and Eliminating the Signs of Decline, Gregg Stocker, ASQ Quality Press, 2006, 192 pp., $24 member, $40 list (book and CD-ROM).
  • Beyond Six Sigma: Profitable Growth Through Customer Value Creation, Gary Plaster and Jerry Alderman, John Wiley & Sons, 2006, 320 pp., $60 (book).
  • ISO 9000 Quality Systems Handbook, David Hoyle, Butterworth-Heinemann, 2006, 704 pp., $49.95 (book).

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