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Featured Case Studies
Harnessing the Power of Virtual Reality (VR) for Quality
Imagine if every organization could have the luxury of a 3,000 square-foot room with tools purely dedicated for process improvement, innovation, and brainstorming. Now imagine it could have access to stakeholders from different geographies and experts who are outside your organization. With virtual reality (VR), it’s possible. The VR for Quality case study detailed how one professional harnessed VR to bring quality across the globe for almost no cost.
Using Exploratory Data Analysis to Improve the Fresh Foods Ordering Process in Retail Stores
This case study presents a real-world example of how the thought processes of data scientists can contribute to quality practice. See how explorative data analysis and basic statistics helped a grocery chain reduce inefficiencies in its retail inventory and ordering process.
Supply Chain Techniques Applied to Six Sigma Saves SeaDek Marine Products $250,000
SeaDek used supply chain techniques and Six Sigma to reduce major inventory stockouts in 2015. Inventory control tools were applied using DMAIC methodology. The company went from 14 major stockouts in 2014 to one stockout in 2015, resulting in a materials cost savings of more than $250,000 and improving on-time delivery from 44 percent the previous year to 95 percent in 2015.
Ideality: The Pinnacle of Quality and Competition
For any given contradiction, TRIZ has a solution for improving the process by making changes to a process step. Within TRIZ lies a concept called ideality, or the ideal state of a system where all functions are achieved without problem. In this case study, the author explains how ideality can be achieved using real-life examples.
U.S. Defense Department Lab First to Achieve ISO 17025 Accreditation for Analyzing Chemical Warfare Agents
To further meet the needs of its customers, the Environmental Monitoring Laboratory (EML) of Edgewood Chemical Biological Center sought ISO 17025 accreditation. The laboratory helps the U.S. Department of Defense establish quality control requirements when testing for chemical warfare agents (CWA). In preparation for accreditation, EML created or modified more than 60 controlled documents. The laboratory became the first lab of its kind to achieve ISO 17025 accreditation for CWA in October 2014.
Process Management Approach Reduces Scrap, Saves Alcoa Millions
A team at Alcoa Power and Propulsion sought to improve product quality, reduce waste and inefficiency, and cut costs. To achieve these goals, the team developed and implemented a structured process management approach across the business unit. By defining and then standardizing key processes, the unit minimized variation, shared best practices, and sustained improvements. The project improved customer satisfaction, reduced costs of poor quality, and saved millions of dollars. The team was named a finalist in ASQ’s 2015 International Team Excellence Awards competition.
DMADV Project Saves $2 Million for Brazilian Mining Company
A Six Sigma team at Samarco Mining developed a low-energy iron ore pellet to meet customer needs and internal goals. Using the DMADV methodology and a variety of quality tools, the team helped Samarco realize more than $2 million in savings annually through this project. The team was named a finalist in ASQ’s 2015 International Team Excellence Awards competition.
Faster Lean and Six Sigma Project Completion via TRIZ
Lean Six Sigma (LSS) problem solving consumes a lot of effort in identifying the root cause and involves a trial and error method for confirming significant factors. For any given contradiction, TRIZ has a solution for improving the process by making changes to a process step. Combining TRIZ and LSS through a structured approach can help reduce the effort and duration of LSS projects by nearly 10 times.
Using DMAIC to Improve Nursing Shift-Change Assignments
In this case study involving an anonymous hospital, nursing department leaders sought to improve efficiency of their staff’s shift change assignments. Upon value stream mapping the process, team members identified the shift nursing report took 43 minutes on average to complete. Using DMAIC and other quality tools, team members improved the process’ sigma level from 0.7 to 3.3.
YMCA Upgrades Day Camps Using Six Sigma
When a senior leader at the YMCA of the USA introduced Six Sigma to the youth development department, a new method for managing and tracking projects was ushered into the organization. Upon completing a Green Belt-level training course, a YMCA project team used Six Sigma tools to improve the culture of the organization’s summer day camp. As staff became more comfortable using Six Sigma, project work became more organized and data-driven, and the project team exceeded its first-year goals.
Minimizing Startup Process Variation to Improve Yield
A polypropylene extrusion facility had 13 extrusion lines, each with varying output levels. The largest line accounted for almost 30% of the plant’s total production output. It was also the biggest contributor of scrap material. A Six Sigma project team implemented a plan to reduce the scrap ratio from an average of 1.19% to 0.60%. The team reduced the total scrap produced by 55%, resulting in an annual cost savings of over $300,000.
Innovating Social Media Marketing Strategy via TRIZ
Using TRIZ, a marketing team created a social media marketing strategy for electric folding bicycles. Their goal was to generate 100,000 social media followers. After defining the target, the team analyzed their system through a combination of the nine windows tool and TRIZ’s basic principles. This provided the team a detailed picture of the project and thus, following different standardized steps, to come up with several different innovative ideas for the social media strategy.
Classic Case Study
Trading Accreditation for Performance Excellence Model: New Zealand Not-for-Profit Hands Back ‘Certification’
- To move forward on its journey to excellence, Spectrum Care searched for the right quality framework and discovered the New Zealand Business Excellence model.
- At the same time, the organization concluded that its accreditation process failed to provide a significant challenge, so it returned its “certification” to the auditing body.
- In this case study, using an organization-wide approach, Spectrum Care applied the new framework to all service areas and activities.
- The organization earned a Silver Award from the New Zealand Business Excellence Foundation in 2010.
Healthcare providers can use quality-improvement techniques and tools to reduce medical errors and help ensure patient safety. Eliminating waste and rework also increases patient-handling capacity and flow, which decreases wait times and potentially harmful delays in care. The result is a safer, more efficient, cost-effective system that better satisfies patients and healthcare workers.
Using DMAIC to Improve Nursing Shift-Change Assignments
In this case study involving an anonymous hospital, nursing department leaders sought to improve efficiency of their staff’s shift change assignments. Upon value stream mapping the process, team members identified the shift nursing report took 43 minutes on average to complete. Using DMAIC and other quality tools, team members improved the process’ sigma level from 0.7 to 3.3. Read the online case study presentation or download Using DMAIC to Improve Nursing Shift-Change Assignments (PDF). February 2016
Using Control Charts in a Healthcare Setting
This teaching case study features characters, hospitals, and healthcare data that are all fictional. Upon use of the case study in classrooms or organizations, readers should be able to create a control chart and interpret its results, and identify situations that would be appropriate for control chart analysis. The case is best suited for MBA operations courses and modules, particularly those focused on operations/process improvement. It also could be used in a hospital setting at a facility that has embraced a continuous improvement philosophy. Read the online case study presentation or download Using Control Charts in a Healthcare Setting (PDF). December 2015
Aligning, Improving Key Measures Net Texas Healthcare Organization Baldrige Honor
When St. David’s HealthCare first adopted the Baldrige criteria, leaders viewed it as an improvement framework to shape a culture of quality and performance excellence. Once immersed in the framework, leaders used it as a tool to help align and improve the work of the organization and key performance measures. The organization’s emergency departments served as a prime example of improving key metrics, as wait times were significantly shortened to meet competitive challenges. In 2014, St. David’s HealthCare earned the nation’s top honor for performance excellence, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Read the online case study presentation or download Aligning, Improving Key Measures Net Texas Healthcare Organization Baldrige Honor (PDF). August 2015
Lack of Reported Medication Errors Spurs Hospital to Improve Data Focus, Patient Safety
A quality improvement project at Medcare Hospital in Dubai centered on unreported medication errors. A cross-functional team used the FOCUS-PDCA model to determine root causes and identify potential improvements. Upon implementing a variety of low-cost solutions, staff members felt more comfortable in reporting errors, thus providing valuable information for building safer systems. Read the online case study presentation or download Lack of Reported Medication Errors Spurs Hospital to Improve Data Focus, Patient Safety (PDF). June 2015
Polish Dialysis Center Employees Use Visual Management to Increase Safety, Improve Organization of Medical Facility
The Regional Nephrology Centre (RNC) Dializa in Poland uses efficient and effective methods of lean philosophy to ensure patient safety and a high-quality level of medical services. The RNC was experiencing problems related to workspace organization, use of utility rooms, and treatment space shared among patients. Staff used visual management (VM) lean methods such as 5S, gemba, and kaizen to improve organization and efficiency of hospital space. Read the online case study presentation or download Polish Dialysis Center Employees Use Visual Management to Increase Safety, Improve Organization of Medical Facility (PDF). March 2015
Systematically Improving Operating Room Patient Flow Through Value Stream Mapping and Kaizen Events (PDF, 450 KB)
In this case study, learn how Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals in Philadelphia, PA, used value stream mapping to identify and execute seven lean projects within the perioperative department over four years. October 2013
Doctors, Nurses Overcome Workplace Hierarchies to Improve Patient Experience Scores in Phoenix ER
Using the DMAIC approach and Pareto analysis, a vision team of physicians and nurses at Banner Health in Arizona sought to improve patient experience scores within the emergency room while reducing litigation risks. By instituting a number of process improvements, leaders were able to decrease the likelihood a patient files a complaint prior to ER discharge by 89 percent. October 2013
Critical Success Factors Lead to Second Baldrige Award (PDF, 119 KB)
After its flagship hospital received a Baldrige Award in 2006, North Mississippi Health Services deployed the Baldrige Criteria throughout the entire organization. Focusing on its five critical success factors, the system received the Baldrige in 2012. May 2013
Six Hospitals Combat Regional Emergency Department Congestion With Lean (PDF, 371 KB)
Representatives from six urban hospitals in the Canadian province of British Columbia that partner to serve mental health and addiction patients worked together to curb emergency department congestion by deploying a single care model across all sites. More than 80 staff from the hospitals assisted with this effort by employing lean tools, obtaining benchmarking data, and standardizing work activities. Recognizing that the technical side is only one piece of the puzzle, leadership and the project team turned to a formal set of critical success factors to engrain the change into the culture. November 2012.
Journey to Perfect: Mayo Clinic and the Path to Quality
Part of an initiative to explore the “Next Generation of Quality Leadership,” this case study will describe the development of the Mayo Clinic’s culture of quality and how leaders drove a system-wide transformation using a unique quality model that included aspects of continuous improvement, the Baldrige criteria, lean, and Six Sigma. July 2012
Imaging Core Lab Takes Quality Beyond Regulatory Requirements with ISO 9001
Medical Metrics Inc. (MMI), had an existing quality management system structured to meet FDA regulations, but it was missing a framework to help drive organizationwide improvement. MMI worked with an external consultant to create an integrated management system—a fusion of regulatory requirements with the ISO 9001 framework—and received certification to the standard in less than seven months. Read the online case study presentation or download Imaging Core Lab Takes Quality Beyond Regulatory Requirements with ISO 9001 (PDF). June 2012
Trading Accreditation for Performance Excellence Model (PDF, 386 KB)
To move forward on its journey to excellence, Spectrum Care searched for the right quality framework and discovered the New Zealand Business Excellence model. At the same time, the organization concluded that its accreditation process failed to provide a significant challenge, so it returned its “certification” to the auditing body. Using an organization-wide approach, Spectrum Care applied the new framework to all service areas and activities. The organization earned a Silver Award from the New Zealand Business Excellence Foundation in 2010. February 2012
Department of Defense Tools Help Hospital Foster a Culture of Patient Safety (PDF, 536 KB)
Abington Memorial Hospital created a culture of patient safety and improved communication among staff using the TeamSTEPPS™ program. Created by the Department of Defense and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, TeamSTEPPS™ is a teamwork system based on lessons learned from “high reliability organizations,” such as military operations, aviation, and community emergency response services. October 2011
ASQ Certification: My Competitive Advantage in a Tough Economy (PDF, 361 KB)
This recent college graduate jumpstarted his career in healthcare by obtaining the CQIA and CSSBB certifications. Within two years after landing his first job, he received two promotions and tripled his salary. September 2011
Healthcare Provider Formalizes Improvement Framework, Captures State Honors (PDF, 720 KB)
ChildServe adopted the Baldrige/IRPE (Iowa Recognition for Performance Excellence) framework to structure its process improvement journey, earning a bronze-level IRPE award in 2010 with its first application. August 2011
Reducing Wait for MRI Exams Gives Akron Children's Hospital Competitive Edge (PDF, 384 KB)
The Radiology Department in this northeastern Ohio hospital used Lean Six Sigma to reduce wait times for MRI exams by days and weeks. Following the improvement project, the hospital earned $1.2 million in first-year incremental revenue. April 2011
A Better Way to Perform Portable X-rays
A cross-functional team at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center used lean tools to develop a new procedure for performing portable x-rays. Process improvements have reduced workers' compensation costs, increased productivity, and improved patient safety. Read the online case study presentation or download A Better Way to Perform Portable X-Rays (PDF). March 2011
Barnes-Jewish Hospital Enhances Quality Patient Care by Embracing Lean (PDF, 530 KB)
The organization-wide lean curriculum at Barnes-Jewish Hospital combines an education program for all employees with focused improvements in value streams. November 2010
Taking Process Improvement Beyond the Quality Department (PDF, 326 KB)
Since adopting the Baldrige criteria as a framework for process improvement in 2005, Genesis Health System has earned two statewide bronze-level performance excellence awards and one silver award. June 2010
Quality Engrained in Culture at Iowa Hospital (PDF, 250 KB)
The plan-do-study-act (PDSA) cycle, data-based decision making, and lean methodologies are part of the quality culture at Guttenberg Municipal Hospital. In 2008, the hospital received a Silver Award in the Iowa Recognition for Performance Excellence program.
Rural Hospital Thrives With Continuous Improvement and Innovation (PDF, 210 KB)
High patient satisfaction resulted from a culture change at Wright Medical Center. They shifted to a more open communication model and a pillar system that focuses on six areas of performance improvement. The hospital is now a destination of choice for healthcare in north central Iowa, with some of the highest patient satisfaction scores in the nation. April 2009
Streamlined Enrollment Nets Big Results for Healthcare Leader (PDF, 193 KB)
Kaiser Permanente Colorado used Lean Six Sigma to evaluate and improve Medicaid enrollment processes. A three-month project resulted in a 45 percent gain in Medicaid membership while increasing Medicaid revenue by more than $1 million annually. January 2009
Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children: Ferrari’s Formula One Handovers and Handovers From Surgery to Intensive Care (PDF, 136 KB)
Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children (GOSH) benchmarked its handoff from cardiac surgery to the intensive care unit against pit stop techniques of the Ferrari Formula One race car team. Process improvements resulted in increased patient safety and decreased error rates. August 2008.
Excerpted from chapter 10 of Benchmarking for Hospitals: Achieving Best-in-Class Performance Without Having to Reinvent the Wheel, by Victor E.Sower, Jo Ann Duffy, and Gerald Kohers.
Community Health Network Reduces Deadly Infections Through Culture of Reliability (PDF, 223 KB)
Community Health Network (CHN) has achieved stunning results in reducing cases of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) using specific bundles of care. Four of the network’s critical care or coronary care units have reported no cases of VAP for at least two years, and one unit has eliminated all cases of this deadly infection since December 2003. June 2008
Best Practices in Process Improvement (PDF, 235 KB)
The internet is revolutionizing process improvement projects by facilitating benchmarking, speeding up data collection and putting people in contact with colleagues.
Emergency Department Prescribes Lean for Process Improvement (PDF, 179 KB)
When the Mercy Medical Center emergency department used lean techniques to improve process flow, patient satisfaction scores rose from the 30th to the 95th percentile. Value stream mapping helped identify and eliminate non-value-added steps. May 2008.
St. Luke’s Hospital Breaks Out of the Pack to Improve Patient and Physician Satisfaction (PDF, 238 KB)
Since implementing its Baldrige-based “breaking out of the pack” strategy, St. Luke’s Hospital has improved patient satisfaction scores from the 49th to the 90th percentile. The hospital was named a Press Ganey Success Story recipient in 2007 and a Silver Award winner in the Iowa Recognition for Performance Excellence program. March 2008.
Prescription for Community-Based Healthcare Includes ISO 9001 (PDF, 270 KB)
The Community Anticoagulation Therapy Clinic demonstrates how ISO 9001 principles can provide a framework for a community model of care delivery and patient safety. Customer and provider surveys demonstrate 100% satisfaction with the clinic, which uses a controlled document system based on ISO 9001, internal and external auditing, and preventive and corrective action plans. February 2008.
Pocono Medical Center: Faster Lab Results Using Six Sigma and Lean (PDF, 188 KB)
A Six Sigma/Lean project helped a laboratory develop a solution for delivering blood test results to doctors by 6 a.m. for critical care patients and by 7 a.m. for all other patients. October 2006.
Bringing Order to Orders at the Nebraska Medical Center (PDF, 118 KB)
The Nebraska Medical Center used Six Sigma to improve the completeness and availability of physician orders for patients; the project occurred within a Six Sigma program that has returned about $7.5 million in savings. July 2006.
Baldrige—Just What the Doctor Ordered (PDF, 230 KB)
For 2004 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipient Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton, patient satisfaction with nursing and nursing courtesy improved from 70% in 1999 to more than 90% in 2004, placing the hospital in Press Ganey’s 90th percentile. October 2005.
Baxter International Wins Team Excellence Award Competition (PDF, 126 KB)
Implementation of Lean techniques results in more than 70% improvement in overall cycle time. Summer 2005.
Rx for Improvement: A Case Study in an Outpatient Pharmacy (PDF, 89 KB)
Quality tools help decrease overall mean fill time by 44 minutes. Spring 2005.
Dutch Hospital Implements Six Sigma (PDF, 61 KB)
Six Sigma implementation at Red Cross Hospital leads to savings while reducing invoicing mistakes and patients needing intravenous antibiotics. February 2005.
Leadership Development at Toronto Rehab: Aligning Thinking with Behavior (PDF, 97 KB)
Organization successfully integrates leadership development with its overall corporate strategy. Spring 2004.
Surmounting Staff Scheduling Challenges at Valley Baptist Health System (PDF, 53 KB)
A project on staff scheduling led to an overall reduction in the hourly cost of overtime and agency use, translating to $460 thousand in potential savings. ASQ Six Sigma Forum, September 2003.
SSM Health Care (PDF, 26 KB)
This St. Louis-based nonprofit healthcare system increased its market share to 18% over three years while three of its five competitors lost market share.
Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City (SLH) (PDF, 29 KB)
Financial performance steadily increased for three years, and client satisfaction scores ranked Saint Luke’s 35th out of 4,500 hospitals nationwide.
Thibodaux Regional Medical Center (PDF, 26 KB)
At this Southern Louisiana acute-care facility, an accounts-receivable project increased cash flow by $2 million per year, inventory reduction achieved annual cost savings of $450,000, and a medication-management project decreased defects by 42%.
Baptist Hospital, Inc. (PDF, 36 KB)
Overall patient satisfaction for this Florida-based healthcare provider rose into the 99th percentile for several years; staff satisfaction rose from 47% to 84% over five years.
Governments can improve the quality of life for their citizens by applying quality principles. Continuous improvement approaches enhance delivery of services, increase process transparency and improve planning and budgeting, while strengthening community ownership and saving taxpayers money.
U.S. Defense Department Lab First to Achieve ISO 17025 Accreditation for Analyzing Chemical Warfare Agents
To further meet the needs of its customers, the Environmental Monitoring Laboratory (EML) of Edgewood Chemical Biological Center sought ISO 17025 accreditation. The laboratory helps the U.S. Department of Defense establish quality control requirements when testing for chemical warfare agents (CWA). In preparation for accreditation, EML created or modified more than 60 controlled documents. The laboratory became the first lab of its kind to achieve ISO 17025 accreditation for CWA in October 2014. Read the online case study presentation or download U.S. Defense Department Lab First to Achieve ISO 17025 Accreditation for Analyzing Chemical Warfare Agents (PDF). June 2016
A Uniform Approach to Inspection Standards
Equipment used by U.S. Army soldiers must be ready at all times. Army mechanics and U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) contractors must maintain the Army’s automotive equipment to ensure it is “mission capable” when needed. The Army has a standard of maintenance for every vehicle in its inventory. The standard left just enough wiggle room for each individual inspector to interpret the requirements in a manner that fits their concept of maintenance. This caused great diversity in actual maintenance standards. One quality management team at Fort Campbell, an Army base in Kentucky near the Tennessee border, sought to measure the cost of these varying interpretations and bring clarity to the application of the Army’s standard. June 2014
Lean Project Helps Colorado DOT Provide Disaster Response Following Historical Flood
When flood waters ravaged portions of Colorado in September 2013, countless federal, state, and municipal government workers sprang into action helping citizens. A months-long repair project for the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and its state highway system would have likely taken longer had it not been for the performance of one Lean improvement project team. See an executive summary of the case study, or download Lean Project Helps Colorado DOT Provide Disaster Response Following Historical Flood (PDF). March 2014
20 Years of Quality Milestones Mark United Arab Emirates' Journey to Excellence
To enhance the competitiveness of organizations and the nation as a whole, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the 1990s instituted numerous strategic quality and excellence initiatives to improve quality and customer service. The adoption of quality frameworks and standards has led to significant improvements in quality, productivity, customer experience, and improving UAE’s global competitive ranking. See an executive summary of the case study, or download 20 Years of Quality Milestones Mark United Arab Emirates' Journey to Excellence (PDF). February 2014
It’s a Matter of Time: Ship Servicers Use Quick Kaizen to Shorten Long Turnaround (PDF, 236 KB)
A team at the Yokosuka Calibration Laboratory, U.S. Naval Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center, used a series of kaizen events to shorten service lead time by 68 percent. The team qualified as a finalist in ASQ’s 2008 International Team Excellence Award process. November 2009.
Piecing Things Together: Better Materials Organization Improves Ship Repair Service (PDF, 276 KB)
Employees at the Sasebo production shop of the U.S. Naval Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center used a lean 5S approach to establish a new way of managing their materials inventory. The team reduced time spent looking for parts by 80 percent and qualified as finalists in ASQ’s 2008 International Team Excellence Award process. November 2009.
Quality in the Military – Army Aviation Depot Does an About-Face (PDF, 187 KB)
The Corpus Christi Army Depot uses lean Six Sigma to significantly reduce turnaround times on maintenance, repair and overhaul support on the Air Force H-60 Pave Hawk.
Better Processes = Better E-Commerce (PDF, 119 KB)
A local government evaluated its online building license application using 13 best practices for e-services business process redesign. Quality Progress magazine, March 2005.
ISO 9001 Takes on a New Role—Crime Fighter (PDF, 433 KB)
In July 2003 the Records and Identification Bureau of the Phoenix Police Department became the first law enforcement organization in the United States to achieve ISO 9001 registration, improving its credibility as a reliable information provider. Quality Progress magazine, May 2004.
The Real Story Behind the Commandant's Performance Challenge (PDF, 112 KB)
A case study shows how a Baldrige-based self-assessment process helps the United States Coast Guard exceed expectations that they will keep citizens safe from terrorist attacks, as well as protect property and preserve freedoms. Journal for Quality and Participation, June 2003.
The Role of Quality Tools in Improving Satisfaction with Government (PDF, 187 KB)
A study in a city in the western United States shows that leadership is critical to the development of quality tools knowledge, but teamwork is the vehicle through which this knowledge is translated into application. Quality Management Journal, July 2002.
Striving for Continuous Improvement: The Experience of U.K. Local Government Services (PDF, 232 KB)
Local government service providers in Scotland have integrated quality standards into the framework of the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) Business Excellence Model so that their quality improvement efforts can be measured and compared year-on-year to demonstrate continuous improvement. Annual Quality Congress proceedings, May 1999.
Quality techniques and tools help lower the costs of people-intensive service processes and improve customer satisfaction. A process approach enables service organizations to standardize the ways they work, achieving improved consistency, faster cycle times and fewer errors. And employees are empowered to provide individualized customer service when it counts most.
Enabling Transformation with Continuous Improvement
Sheila Shaffie and her team at ProcessArc, a customer experience architecture firm, explain why it is beneficial to use multiple, complementary methodologies in business transformation and continuous improvement. April 2019
Growing online services and disruptive technologies forced a global financial institution to overhaul their manual processes and undergo a digital transformation. The organization enlisted ProcessArc, a customer experience architecture firm, to examine the firm’s process via a Lean Six Sigma lens. Download Digital Transformation of Client Onboarding Process Reaps $50 Million Efficiency Opportunity (PDF). April 2018
The Sixteen Golden Traits
Fundamental tenets, such as respect, excellence, understanding customer needs, investing in employees, and finding win-win solutions are increasingly important in today’s organizations. This essay details why these 16 traits are so important to organizations. Download The Sixteen Golden Traits (PDF). February 2018
Innovating Social Media Marketing Strategy via TRIZ
Using TRIZ, a marketing team created a social media marketing strategy for electric folding bicycles. Their goal was to generate 100,000 social media followers. After defining the target, the team analyzed their system through a combination of the nine windows tool and TRIZ’s basic principles. This provided the team a detailed picture of the project and thus, following different standardized steps, to come up with several different innovative ideas for the social media strategy. Download Innovating Social Media Marketing Strategy via TRIZ (PDF). November 2017
Ideality: The Pinnacle of Quality and Competition
For any given contradiction, TRIZ has a solution for improving the process by making changes to a process step. Within TRIZ lies a concept called ideality, or the ideal state of a system where all functions are achieved without problem. In this case study, the author explains how ideality can be achieved using real-life examples. Read the online case study presentation or download Ideality: The Pinnacle of Quality and Competition (PDF). July 2016
Faster Lean and Six Sigma Project Completion via TRIZ
Lean Six Sigma (LSS) problem solving consumes a lot of effort in identifying the root cause and involves a trial and error method for confirming significant factors. For any given contradiction, TRIZ has a solution for improving the process by making changes to a process step. Combining TRIZ and LSS through a structured approach can help reduce the effort and duration of LSS projects by nearly 10 times. Read the online case study presentation or download Faster Lean and Six Sigma Project Completion via TRIZ (PDF). March 2016
YMCA Upgrades Day Camps Using Six Sigma
When a senior leader at the YMCA of the USA introduced Six Sigma to the youth development department, a new method for managing and tracking projects was ushered into the organization. Upon completing a Green Belt-level training course, a YMCA project team used Six Sigma tools to improve the culture of the organization’s summer day camp. As staff became more comfortable using Six Sigma, project work became more organized and data-driven, and the project team exceeded its first-year goals. Read the online case study presentation or download YMCA Upgrades Day Campus Using Six Sigma (PDF). January 2016
Indian 5-Star Hotel Front-Line Staff Find Happiness, Empowerment in Solving Attrition Problem
Muri, a Japanese term that means stress, exists throughout organizations, and the elimination of it plays a crucial role in its growth and sustainability. While the hotel industry is growing at a very fast rate in India and other parts of the world, attrition has become a very big problem, one of the primary reasons being work stress. This article discusses the techniques that were used to understand the root causes of stress, to quantify it, and arrive at solutions for a popular Indian hotel chain that will remain anonymous. Read the online case study presentation or download Indian 5-Star Hotel Front-Line Staff Find Happiness, Empowerment in Solving Attrition Problem (PDF). August 2015
Forensic Techniques Reveal Conclusive Evidence in West African Pipeline Construction Dispute
Forensic intelligence and forensic interviews can be used to assess the level of compliance and effectiveness of a project’s quality management system (QMS). In this case study, the extent of a contractor’s implementation of the project’s QMS, created for the engineering, procurement, and construction of a pipeline in West Africa, was disputed between the contractor and the project owner/client. To assess the effectiveness of the project’s QMS, data collection through forensic intelligence and forensic interviews was conducted to assist in resolving the dispute. October 2014
Six Sigma Optimization of Mystery Shopping
Mystery shopping (MS) can be a very valuable exercise for studying and evaluating service delivery performance within the banking industry. Using Six Sigma tools and hypothetical data, this case study tests the approach and results to gauge poor service from excellent service delivery. The MS approach is highly applicable as a balanced scorecard parameter to measure delivery within service centers. September 2014
Origami Lean Training Exercise
Providing hands-on experiences to students is essential for lean workshops. Origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, can be used to provide students with a hands-on experience for understanding process thinking and process steps. The activity can be effective at conveying quality tools and concepts for all age groups. August 2014
India-based Life Insurer Improves Customer Retention Through Six Sigma, Quality Tools
Recognizing the company’s customer retention rate dipped below acceptable levels, Max Life Insurance Company leaders initiated improvement project Unnati to reclaim deeply lapsed policyholders. Using Six Sigma and quality tools, team members identified more than one dozen possible opportunities for agents to improve customer relationships, tripling the retention rate and generating millions in revenue. May 2014
New Zealand Port Company Stems Tide of Overdue IT Tickets
The Ports of Auckland aimed to reduce the number of IT call tickets that are not completed within agreed-upon timeframes. The organization initiated a Six Sigma project using tools to improve customer service, communication, and prioritization. As a result, the project realized a 50 percent reduction in past-due IT tickets during a sustained period. See an executive summary of the case study, or download New Zealand Port Company Stems Tide of Overdue IT Tickets (PDF, 219 KB). January 2014
Lean Six Sigma Increases Efficiency for Financial Services Firm (PDF, 457 KB)
A fund services organization used a Lean Six Sigma approach that featured kaizen events to enhance process control and increase capacity. In just four months, nine quick-fix projects achieved savings of $220,000, paving the way for larger strategic improvements. April 2012
A Broader View of Quality Through Certification (PDF, 561 KB)
Nancy Garcia, a senior engineering support technician for InfinityQS, is an ASQ Certified Quality Engineer and Certified Software Quality Engineer. Not only did Garcia gain confidence from ASQ Certification, she also developed deeper insight into the quality field. September 2011
Supporting Customers and Driving Excellence Through Quality (PDF, 703 KB)
A Firstsource Solutions team used Six Sigma to improve its processes for handling inbound customer service calls for a client’s new business, lowering the repeat call rate from 15 percent to 9.6 percent. May 2011
Reducing Check Returns With Six Sigma (PDF, 681 KB)
A Firstsource Advantage cross-functional team used Six Sigma to reduce the check return rate for a top client by more than 20 percent over a six-month period. April 2011
Service Provider Improves Client's Metrics With Six Sigma (PDF, 480 KB)
Firstsource Solutions used Six Sigma to reduce a retail mortgage client's turnaround time to approve applications, boosting the client's revenue by 6.9 million pounds. April 2011
Solid Commitment to People Is Main Ingredient for Texas Restaurant Excellence (PDF, 275 KB)
In 2010, K&N Management became the second food service recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and the first restaurant group ever to receive the Texas Award for Performance Excellence. March 2011
No Evil Lasts More Than 96 Hours (PDF, 342 KB)
Using Six Sigma and quality tools, a Movistar Argentina improvement team reduced defects in the posting of customer payments by 50 percent, shortened the time needed to post payments from seven minutes to three seconds, decreased average allocation time from five to two days, and reduced rework by 68 percent. March 2011
Negative Press Motivates Impossible Mission (PDF, 390 KB)
Telefónica’s Impossible Mission team used a Six Sigma approach to increase on-time payments to media suppliers from two percent to 97.5 percent. November 2010
Teaming Up With Six Sigma to Improve Accuracy and Customer Satisfaction (PDF, 326 KB)
A Firstsource Solutions Six Sigma improvement team used the define, measure, analyze, improve, and control (DMAIC) approach to improve accuracy rates for a client’s enrollment forms. The client passed a regulatory audit, avoiding a financial penalty, and the team became a finalist in the 2009-10 International Team Excellence Award competition. November 2010
Six Sigma Improves Productivity, Adds Financial Value (PDF, 588 KB)
Using a team-based Six Sigma approach, Firstsource Advantage improved collection call center productivity and added $250,000 in financial benefits. The improvement team earned finalist honors in the 2009-10 competition. November 2010
Electric Utility Deploys Powerful Approach for Continuous Improvement (PDF, 313 KB)
The Information Technology and Business Integration (IT&BI) Business Unit at Southern California Edison launched a three-year plan to increase visibility, awareness, and focus on continuous improvement efforts to better meet client needs. August 2010.
Building a Culture of Quality (PDF, 248 KB)
As Jeff Balaban established a quality assurance program in the information technology department at Southern California Edison, he was also building a culture of quality. August 2010.
Quality Basics Simplify Complex Engineering Document Management Challenge (PDF, 257 KB)
Quality tools such as process mapping, fishbone analysis, and simulations helped a utility company transfer the management of 750,000 documents from more than 150 different facilities to a centralized location, resulting in annual savings of more than $1 million. April 2010
The Challenge of Overcoming Success (PDF, 428 KB)
A combination of theory of constraints, Six Sigma, and lean helped a DNA testing laboratory take a holistic approach to process improvement. Redesigning the workflow and laboratory layout and introducing new operating rules increased capacity without increasing costs. March 2010
Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin: Integrating Quality and Social Responsibility (PDF, 255 KB)
Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin uses lean techniques and kaizen events to improve processes and enhance its social responsibility efforts. Within two years of introducing lean techniques, Goodwill had completed 16 process improvement events that saved an estimated $2.8 million in labor and supplies. December 2009.
Getting Green With Lean (PDF, 483 KB)
The JDSU legal department’s global trade team used lean tools to eliminate waste from its import management processes. By creating a paperless process, the team handled a 500-percent increase in work and eliminated at least 70,000 paper copies per year. September 2009.
Singapore Housing and Development Board Teams Use Quality Tools to Provide Award-Winning Customer Service
Three improvement teams from the Singapore Housing and Development Board (HDB) qualified as finalists in ASQ’s 2008 International Team Excellence Award process. Read about their projects. June 2009
M.A.G.I.C. Huddles: Handbook Motivates Staff and Improves Customer Service (PDF, 184 KB)
An improvement team used quality tools to develop a handbook that reduced service center supervisors’ preparation time for one daily activity by 75 percent, a savings of 45 worker-months per year.
Quality Tools Help Singapore Housing and Development Board Develop Award-Winning New Product (PDF, 419 KB)
Quality tools helped an improvement team develop a new product to measure the gradient of ramps in HDB housing communities. The tool reduced the amount of time it took to assess a ramp’s gradient by 89.5 percent.
Singapore Housing and Development Board MoJet Pack: Using Quality Tools for Product Development (PDF, 266 KB)
An HDB improvement team used quality tools to develop a new product, the MoJet Pack, to test water tightness and prevent seepage in homes. In just one year, use of the MoJet Pack brought about a 90-percent decrease in the number of seepage defect cases per housing contract.
R. L. Polk & Co.: Making Every Issue the Only Issue (PDF, 191 KB)
Annual customer surveys for R. L. Polk & Co. identified opportunities for improvement in customer contact and issue resolution. By following the same steps for every issue and performing full root cause analysis for 100 percent of issues, Polk increased operational excellence and improved customer satisfaction. February 2009.
Improving Productivity Through Lean Six Sigma Warehouse Design (PDF, 190 KB)
A Lean Six Sigma improvement team at New Breed Logistics employed quality tools such as value stream mapping, PICK charts, and the 5 Whys to increase product flow and meet customers’ packaging requirements. As a result, overtime decreased by 30 percent, productivity increased 5 percent, shipping accuracy reached 100 percent, and customer satisfaction improved, leading to additional business. February 2009.
Driving Higher Workplace Performance: Using Analytics, Dashboard Metrics, and Soft Skills to Improve Results (PDF, 211 KB)
When assigned the task of improving warehouse performance for a Western Canadian industrial distribution center, a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt discovered the differences between “human” and “automated” business processes. February 2009.
On the Right Track: Rail Company Reduces Expenses with Six Sigma (PDF, 182 KB)
An improvement team at rail company CSX Transportation qualified as a finalist for ASQ’s 2008 International Team Excellence Award with a project focusing on train and engine expenses and accuracy in employee pay. The Six Sigma project led to annual savings of $1.4 million, with further reductions in waste resulting in $5.1 million in savings in 2007. September 2008.
Simplify and Unleash: One Bank’s Strategy for Growth Through Six Sigma (PDF, 187 KB)
A large retail bank used a Six Sigma strategy to simplify its retail division and remove incremental costs. Improving core business processes through process and product elimination and through process simplification resulted in $2.1 million in savings in just eight months. September 2008.
Certifying the Certifier (PDF, 115 KB)
Over a three-year period, Quality Management Company (QMC) improved itself from the inside out—and became ISO certified in the process. ISO 9001 provided QMC with a logical framework for developing a quality management system. July 2008.
Improved Response Time Increases Revenue for Global Lender (PDF, 154 KB)
A global lender was losing 40% of its applications for auto loans in Latin America, mainly due to slow response times. Through the use of basic lean and Six Sigma tools, response times improved by as much as 98%, and contract volume increased by up to 120%. June 2008.
An Alternative Approach in Service Quality: An e-Banking Case Study (PDF, 238 KB)
Data from the National Bank of Spain show how the customer’s voice can be designed into its e-banking system. January 2008.
Agency Files Away Inefficiency, Saves Taxpayers a Bundle (PDF, 228 KB)
One of the three silver medal winners in the 2007 International Team Excellence Competition created a solution that has the potential to save Florida taxpayers more than $18 million over time. October 2007.
Child Protective Services Agencies Turn Data Into Action Using Quality Tools (PDF, 207 KB)
The Children’s Research Center’s SafeMeasures® service uses quality tools to help navigate data fog and provide meaningful analysis. Results from agencies using the service demonstrate how the availability of timely and useful data has dramatically improved the documentation, delivery and monitoring of child protective services. September 2007.
Improving Child Protective Services Using Quality Tools (PDF, 95 KB)
With the help of an ASQ Community Good Works grant, the Children’s Research Center is piloting a training curriculum to teach data-driven improvement techniques to social service agency workers in Santa Cruz County, California. By teaching a basic 10-step process for improvement, the center equips social workers to overcome barriers created by complex state and federal regulations and inefficient case management systems. September 2007.
Maryland Not-for-Profit’s Process Improvements Lead to Award-Winning Success (PDF, 403 KB)
Since entering its first state quality award program in 2002, Chimes has received five awards in Maryland and Delaware. June 2007.
Quality Strategies Help Eliminate Likelihood of Serious and Deadly Injuries (PDF 5 MB)
An energy company was dismayed to learn that its fire-safety clothing wasn't adequate for workers dealing with potentially deadly gas-line fires. The company used quality tools and methods to quantify the dangers employees faced and the best ways to protect them. The result: A dramatically safer work environment. NOTE: This PDF includes video clips of the burn tests conducted as part of the company's research. The link above will give you access to a version that includes Quicktime videos. If you have trouble viewing the clips, try viewing an alternate version of the PDF embedded with Windows Media (2 MB) videos. May 2007.
Employees Fuel Productivity Gains, Enhanced Service at U.S.-Japan Shipyards
This collection of case studies highlights several successful quality-improvement initiatives at the U.S. Naval Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) Yokosuka and its Sasebo detachment. Using quality tools and techniques, workers have made significant improvements to many key processes and facilities. April 2007.
U.S. Air Force Earns High-Flying Results with Quality Management Specifications for Suppliers (PDF, 181 KB)
Adopting ISO 9001 compliance as a sourcing criterion in its supplier selection process and requiring suppliers' quality management representatives to become ASQ Certified Quality Auditors have saved the Air Force millions of dollars and nearly eliminated critical defects in supplier products and services. November 2006.
Shifting Quality Into High Gear (PDF, 201 KB)
Dallas area Lexus dealership’s close attention to small details keeps customers and employees happy. The results have been so great, they plan to reapply for a Baldrige in five years. Quality Progress, September 2006.
Regional Team Approach Helps Energy Company Enhance Safety, Avoid Costs (PDF, 165 KB)
Xcel Energy's Denver operation reduced accidents by 48% in one year and saved the company an estimated $714,000 over a 24-month period. August 2006.
IT Department Improves Processes to Detect More Defects Sooner (PDF, 79 KB)
Tufts Health Plan IT process improvements resulted in a 16% decline in defects identified in testing, a 68% increase in peer reviews conducted as a quality check before production, and a 59% increase in the number of issues identified in those peer reviews. (This case study appears as a section of the Software Engineering Institute technical report "Performance Results of CMMI®-Based Process Improvement.") August 2006.
Help Desk Improves Service and Saves Money With Six Sigma (PDF, 171 KB)
The help desk service for a telecom company launched a Six Sigma project to improve the quality of its processes, reducing the average solution time for customers from 9.75 hours to 1 hour and decreasing operating costs by 69%. August 2006.
Xcel Energy’s Natural Gas Services Risk Management Team Uses Quality Tools to Recover Millions (PDF, 244 KB)
A risk management team reduced a potential $12.7 million payment default down to $114,000 while improving process performance. News for a Change, February 2006.
When It’s About Lasting Change… Process Improvement Is Almost Always the Last Option (PDF, 184 KB)
Shared Values culture helps a deregulated Midwestern utility company change image, improve “people practices.” Fall 2005.
Improving Agency Performance and Service Delivery (PDF, 90 KB)
Performance-driven approach to government boosts State of Washington citizen satisfaction, leads to top ranking from National Policy Research Council for state. Winter 2004.
Flexibility at Work—Barclays UK Banking Centre (PDF, 58 KB)
Flexible working agenda improves sickness and attrition rates and leads to record-high staff satisfaction survey scores. Fall 2004.
Fidelity Wide Processing Wins Team Excellence Award Competition (PDF, 103 KB)
Continuous improvement journey boosts profits while fostering employee engagement. Summer 2004.
Significance of Quality Certification: The Case of the Software Industry in India (PDF, 254 KB)
Results of an empirical study conducted in the software industry in India show that quality certification helps in the implementation of TQM-based quality management programs and has an impact on operational performance. Quality Management Journal, January 2004.
Using the Baldrige Criteria to Assess Strategic Planning: A Case Study (PDF, 82 KB)
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation uses Baldrige criteria to assess strategic planning. Summer 2003.
Print Perfect (PDF, 184 KB)
Branch-Smith Printing, a 2002 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipient, grew 72% overall between 1998 and 2001. July 2003.
Bank of America (PDF, 26 KB)
Quality initiatives contributed $2 billion to both the top and bottom lines in 2003.
Bechtel (PDF, 36 KB)
Six Sigma saved this international company more than $200 million in 2002, an increase of $185 million over 2001.
U.I.C.I. (PDF, 26 KB)
At this niche-market insurance provider, employees contributed improvement ideas which saved more than $30 million in three years.
Pal’s Sudden Service (PDF, 36 KB)
For this Southern fast-food restaurant chain, sales continued to increase despite 2001’s downward-spiraling economy.
Caterpillar Financial Services Corporation U.S. (PDF, 69 KB)
The financial-services division of this heavy-equipment manufacturer increased its contribution to parent company from 5.6% in 1998 to 25% in 2003.
Boeing Aerospace Support (PDF, 70 KB)
Earnings grew at a double-digit rate from 1999 to 2002, and annual revenue doubled during the same period.
In a manufacturing environment, quality improves reliability and increases production. Fewer defects translates to fewer warranty claims and increased customer satisfaction. Process improvements also eliminate waste, improve flow and enhance workplace safety, all contributing to the bottom line.
Quality Redesign at SSL
SSL, a global leader in integrated space technologies, underwent a complete redesign of its quality organization by reinventing its purpose and role in the company. These changes were not only foundational in nature, they required a significant cultural shift by the quality organization and by company-wide management. This case study details the fundamentals and processes that were used to achieve this level of change, which may be helpful for other organizations undergoing or contemplating changes to their structure and processes. Download Quality Redesign at SSL (PDF). April 2108
Minimizing Startup Process Variation to Improve Yield
A polypropylene extrusion facility had 13 extrusion lines, each with varying output levels. The largest line accounted for almost 30% of the plant’s total production output. It was also the biggest contributor of scrap material. A Six Sigma project team implemented a plan to reduce the scrap ratio from an average of 1.19% to 0.60%. The team reduced the total scrap produced by 55%, resulting in an annual cost savings of over $300,000. Download Minimizing Startup Process Variation to Improve Yield (PDF). November 2017
Process Management Approach Reduces Scrap, Saves Alcoa Millions
A team at Alcoa Power and Propulsion sought to improve product quality, reduce waste and inefficiency, and cut costs. To achieve these goals, the team developed and implemented a structured process management approach across the business unit. By defining and then standardizing key processes, the unit minimized variation, shared best practices, and sustained improvements. The project improved customer satisfaction, reduced costs of poor quality, and saved millions of dollars. The team was named a finalist in ASQ’s 2015 International Team Excellence Awards competition. Read the online case study presentation or download Process Management Approach Reduces Scrap, Saves Alcoa Millions (PDF). May 2016
DMADV Project Saves $2 Million for Brazilian Mining Company
A Six Sigma team at Samarco Mining developed a low-energy iron ore pellet to meet customer needs and internal goals. Using the DMADV methodology and a variety of quality tools, the team helped Samarco realize more than $2 million in savings annually through this project. The team was named a finalist in ASQ’s 2015 International Team Excellence Awards competition. Read the online case study presentation or download DMADV Project Saves $2 Million for Brazilian Mining Company (PDF). April 2016
Mega Pack Line Blow-Up: DMAIC Roadmap Leads Boston Scientific Heredia to Reengineer Packaging Lines
Corporate rates of improvement at Boston Scientific represent a yearly challenge and opportunity to improve and exceed different operation indicators such as service and efficiency, safety, quality, and cost within the company. A DMAIC roadmap provides a standardized and recognized set of tools to be used as methodology during part of the project implementation, based on a lean manufacturing point of view. Core team members and product builders within the Amplatz Super Stiff™ Guidewires area worked together to improve efficiency, increase safety, and save money using a DMAIC roadmap. January 2015
Cutting Iron Pellet Production Costs Via Improved Efficiency Saves Mining Company $8 Million
A performance improvement team at Samarco's Brazil mining facility focused on reducing iron ore pellet production costs. Using the DMAIC methodology and a variety of quality tools, the team uncovered root causes and created solutions to improve the efficiency of natural gas consumption. By implementing five low-cost solutions, the project delivered fuel cost savings of $8 million. December 2014
Clean Approach Saves Global Pharmaceutical Drug Manufacturer Time, Money
A team-based Lean Six Sigma project at Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals in St. Louis, Mo. aimed to reduce equipment cleaning time. Using a variety of quality tools, including process mapping, brainstorming, and root-cause analysis, the team created a new cleaning procedure. Meeting all objectives, the project resulted in significant annual cost savings for the company. April 2014
The Corning Journey to Performance Excellence: Innovation Spanning Three Centuries
Northwestern University, Buckman Associates, and ASQ present a case study detailing the performance excellence journey of Corning, Inc. Founded in 1851, Corning is known for innovations in the development of glass products and glass- and ceramics-based applications. Its commitment to manufacturing what it invents contributes to its success in serving consumer and industrial markets for the past 160 years. In this case study you'll read the situation analysis of the challenges that Corning, a 1995 Baldrige Award recipient, faced in its sustainable performance excellence journey and some of the implementation activities of the Corning performance excellence team, along with results they experienced. July 2013
Turn Around or Shut Down (PDF, 211 KB)
With just a year to transform the failing chemical unit at Trident Group, the company's unit head formed an improvement team to analyze performance metrics and find a solution to improve the previously successful unit. May 2013.
Thai Brewery Deploys QFD Tools to Tap Into Consumer Motivation (PDF, 162 KB)
Boon Rawd Brewery, the maker of Singha beer, saw an opportunity to better understand its American, British, and Australian customers as demand for Thai food products in these market segments continued to boom. The company partnered with Japan Business Consultants, Ltd. and deployed QFD tools using a five-step approach to uncover the thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and perceptions influencing the consumption of its products. The team's findings were used to craft marketing messages to appear in print ads. December 2012.
Chinese OEM Reduces Returns With Improved Product Testing (PDF, 184 KB)
When Continental Automotive Systems, Tianjin, China, began producing an electronic component known as the silver box, the return rate was more than 1,200 parts per million (ppm), versus a goal of less than 100 ppm. A Six Sigma improvement team used quality tools including trend charts, Pareto charts, and cause-and-effect diagrams to analyze the failure modes for the reported defects, finding that many were not being covered by product testing processes. A combination of technical innovation tools, including test coverage analysis, fault insertion, and a test methods selection matrix, along with Six Sigma process improvement and statistical tools, led the team to the solution of adding new testing items and a new testing station to the process. Adding the new tests reduced silver box returns to fewer than 50 ppm, producing cost savings of $130,000 per year while also strengthening relations with a major customer.
General Motors Technical Problem-Solving Group Drives Excellence (PDF, 500 KB)
The Red X team at General Motors was reduced by 78 percent after the company restructured in 2009. The team turned to lean and the Red X approaches they use to solve vehicle performance issues to increase their output of completed projects by making the problem-solving process more efficient. The team's success paved the way for additional projects, which contributed toward a 50 percent reduction in GM's 12-months-in-service warranty. The team earned finalist honors in the 2012 ASQ International Team Excellence Award competition.
Geometrica Builds ISO 9001 QMS on Wiki (PDF, 441 KB)
Geometrica, a manufacturer of domes and free-style structures, used a wiki to document its ISO 9001:2008 quality management system. The company attributes its fast track to certification to the ease and efficiency of wikis. While the original goal was meeting ISO 9001:2008 requirements, the wiki now functions as documentation of its integrated management system with more than 10,000 pages of documentation servicing 67 internal users.
Ford Team Uses Six Sigma to Reduce Costs While Improving Environmental Impact (PDF, 332 KB)
A cross-functional team at a Ford Motor Co. site in Saarlouis, Germany, used Six Sigma to reduce paint expenditures, achieving a $2 million annual savings. December 2011
Taking Continuous Improvement Personally (PDF, 327 KB)
Guan Hock Ong is a CMQ/OE, CQA, CQIA, and an ASQ senior member. ASQ certification helps Ong stay focused on the quality cause in a “quick-fix” world. Already well-versed in building quality management systems, Ong plans to continue his quality journey by exploring the application of lean and Six Sigma methodologies.
Serigraph's Universal Language of Quality and Sustainability (PDF, 322 KB)
Nick Leifeld, vice president of corporate compliance environmental health and safety at Serigraph, has earned five ASQ certifications—CQE, CQT, CQA, CMQ/OE, and CSSBB. Serigraph sees certification as a way to ensure a common language for workers. November 2011
Opening A World With ASQ Certification (PDF, 342 KB)
While Marty Palczynski originally pursued ASQ certification to improve his position in a job search, it soon evolved into a journey of continued professional development and growth. October 2011
Ford Team Project Builds Relationships, Improves Quality (PDF, 427 KB)
When pre-launch reviews of the Ford Fiesta pointed to concerns about the quality of the vehicle's carpet, a team of Six Sigma Black Belts turned to design of experiments (DOE) to improve the carpet manufacturing process. The team redesigned the process in just two weeks, improving carpet quality and strengthening Ford's relationship with the supplier. September 2011
Continuous Improvement at Two Companies (PDF, 362 KB)
Todd Schneider shares lessons learned from helping to integrate continuous improvement into the operations of two companies. Examples of improvement projects at his current employer, Serigraph, show how teams used Six Sigma to improve yield by more than 20 percent, saving $40,000 in 10 months, and improve vendor material management, saving $192,000 per year. June 2011
Quality Revolution Reduces Defects, Drives Sales Growth at 3M (PDF, 392 KB)
By combining Lean Six Sigma and a Top-200 customer focus, 3M improved its belt fabrication processes. The improvement team reduced defects in parts per million by a factor of 28 times as sales increased by 54 percent. November 2010
Critical Elements for Major Improvements
The MEDRAD packaging area’s Critical Elements improvement team used Six Sigma, brainstorming techniques, and a solution priority chart to reduce annual expenses by $160,000, eliminate excessive overtime, and reduce reliance on temporary workers. September 2010
Wind Power Company Gets to the Root of an Icy Issue (PDF, 429 KB)
A root cause analysis project saved Clipper Windpower $1 million in lost revenue while increasing customer satisfaction. April 2010
Optimizing Purchasing Processes Saves $1 Million (PDF, 258 KB)
Can a change in purchasing processes for the most basic manufacturing components, like bolts, actually lead to $1 million in savings? For an MWM INTERNATIONAL Motores Six Sigma improvement team, the answer is a resounding yes. July 2009
Medical Device Manufacturer's Continuous Improvement Approach Reduces Errors in Records (PDF, 236 KB)
Using a three-tiered approach that included technology-, process-, and people-related solutions, MEDRAD reduced errors in product history records by 26 percent. February 2009.
AS 9100 Keeps Bosch Communications Flying High in Aerospace Industry (PDF, 283 KB)
In just 11 months, Bosch Communications earned certification to both ISO 9001 and AS9100, the international quality management system standard for the aerospace industry. December 2008.
Six Sigma Green, Black Belts Help Manufacturer Save Nearly $1.5 Million (PDF, 115 KB)
Green Belt efforts have resulted in hard savings of $1.2 million for Crown Equipment Corporation. Black Belt efforts have brought $285,000 in hard savings, with more expected as projects proceed further. July 2008.
At Genzyme, Training and Documentation Take Center Stage (PDF, 145 KB)
Genzyme Corporation’s associate director of training and documentation relies on best practices sharing, knowledge mapping, and networking to help accomplish his primary job-related responsibilities: communicate, analyze, and act. The skills he developed as a quality auditor and the knowledge he gained from the certification process have remained applicable to the world of training and documentation. May 2008.
It All Ties Together (PDF, 541 KB)
A locomotive company refused to sit idly by, knowing a significant amount of diesel fuel was being wasted. Using quality tools, a company team found a way to conserve fuel and save millions of dollars. The team earned the Bronze Award at the 2007 International Team Excellence Competition. May 2008.
Pall Corporation: A Profile in “Process Excellence” (PDF, 192 KB)
Pall Corporation’s “Process Excellence” combines lean, Six Sigma, dashboard metrics, and team involvement. This combination ensures improvement efforts are aligned with business imperatives and contributes to a culture of accountability. April 2008.
Quality Tools, Teamwork Lead Boeing Team to a System Redesign (PDF, 191 KB)
A team from Boeing, as well as members of the Air Force and suppliers, worked to fix the C-17's inert gas generating system that previously needed constant repairs. The outcome was a 7,400% increase in system reliability and reduced initialization time. The group was one of three teams to earn a silver medal in the 2007 International Team Excellence Competition. November 2007.
The Bug and the Slurry: Bacterial Control in Aqueous Products (PDF, 110 KB)
When a customer reported a problem using polycrystalline diamond (PCD) slurry supplied by Warren/Amplex, collaborative teamwork uncovered the source and led to a solution within 72 hours. Understanding recent changes not only in customer requirements but also in customer processes proved to be key to the solution. September 2007.
Agricultural Firms Gain Competitive Edge With USDA’s ISO 9001-Based Verification Program (PDF, 528 KB)
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Process Verified Program uses the ISO 9001:2000 standard to evaluate the quality management systems of agricultural businesses. August 2007.
It’s in the Genes at Cummins (PDF, 132 KB)
Leveraging Six Sigma methods and tools, the Indiana based diesel maker successfully completed an HR project involving a labor union. Quality Progress, April 2007.
ISM Makes the Business Case for Social Responsibility (PDF, 119 KB)
The Institute for Supply ManagementTM (ISM) shares research and tools to educate supply professionals about the social, financial and ethical benefits of socially responsible behavior. This case study includes ISM’s Principles of Social Responsibility. March 2007.
Siemens VDO Optimizes Processes Using Six Sigma (PDF, 185 KB)
Six Sigma is one of five pillars supporting the Siemens VDO quality strategy. The company earned global recognition for its use of Six Sigma when one project team earned the Bronze Award in the 2006 International Team Excellence Award competition. February 2007.
You Can Go Home Again (PDF, 138 KB)
The former chairman and CEO of Corning came out of retirement to turn around the company by focusing on quality, values and Six Sigma’s DMAIC process. Quality Progress, January 2007.
Cummins Inc. Saves Nearly $1 Billion with Six Sigma
Six Sigma Saves Nearly $1 Billion, Key Customers, and a Company (PDF, 157 KB)
Since launching its all-encompassing Six Sigma program in 2000, Cummins Inc. has saved nearly $1 billion through the completion of nearly 5,000 improvement projects.
Cummins Six Sigma Project Results in a Smoother Ride for Dodge Ram Pickup (PDF, 299 KB)
A DMAIC project to reduce excessive vehicle vibrations for Cummins customer Daimler Chrysler resulted in a 16% reduction in vibration levels and a 100% increase in first-year sales of the Dodge Ram Mega Cab 4x4 pickup truck compared to projections.
Cummins Capitalizes on Six Sigma to Minimize Long-Term Interest Rate Risk (PDF, 328 KB)
A Green Belt project in the Cummins treasury department used the DMAIC process to optimize the company’s ratio of fixed to floating rate debt, saving $1 million annually.
Using Cost of Quality to Improve Business Results (PDF, 260 KB)
Since centering improvement efforts on cost of quality, CRC Industries has reduced failure dollars as a percentage of sales and saved hundreds of thousands of dollars. April 2006.
Next Level Leadership (PDF, 146 KB)
Texas Nameplate Co. is the first small business to receive the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award twice. August 2005.
A Recipe for Excellence (PDF, 265 KB)
The Bama Companies’ sales increased 70%—from $120 million in 1999 to more than $200 million in 2004. June 2005.
Six Sigma's Power to Save: A DMAIC Project Reduces Energy Consumption for Visible Savings
A Six Sigma DMAIC project reduced energy consumption levels by 28% and achieved yearly savings of US $122,200 at a radiator manufacturing plant in Pune, India. Six Sigma Forum Web Site, January 2005.
Project Leads to $1.65 Million in Annual Savings (PDF, 286 KB)
Improvement needed to meet rising demand for galvanized coils. Six Sigma Forum Magazine, November 2004.
Stoner: Built on a Strong Foundation (PDF, 297 KB)
The implementation of Baldrige business criteria helped Stoner Inc. achieve a 400% growth in sales since 1990. August 2004.
Six Sigma: The Critical Link between Process Improvements and Business Results (PDF, 382 KB)
A delivery improvement case study from Pune, India, demonstrates how Six Sigma's focus on the relationships among a project's business Y, customer Y, process Y and inputs (Xs) can achieve breakthrough results. Six Sigma Forum Web Site, October 2003.
Improving Customer Satisfaction through Six Sigma: A Paint Shop Case Study
A paint shop in Pune, India, achieved a fourfold improvement in quality levels in this four-month Six Sigma project. February 2003.
The Honeywell Experience (PDF, 60 KB)
In 2002, Honeywell International Inc. had $1.2 billion in productivity improvement gains, a sizable portion of which came from its Six Sigma Plus initiative. February 2003.
Process Improvement at BOC Edwards (PDF, 77 KB)
This electronic gas filling facility used Six Sigma to reduce costs and improve quality. February 2003.
American Axle and Manufacturing (PDF, 27 KB)
Reduced labor hours from 10 to 3.8 per $1,000 revenue and increased production from 1,900 to 4,600 vehicle axles per day.
This automotive supplier reduced annual costs by more than $2 million, doubled inventory turns, and cut customer complaints nearly in half.
Medrad, Inc. (PDF, 67 KB)
This leading developer and manufacturer of medical devices increased operating revenue as a percent of revenue from 16% in 1999 to 20% in 2002.
KARLEE (PDF, 35 KB)
This Texas-based manufacturer of precision sheet metal and machined components tripled production values in less than 10 years while improving customer satisfaction scores by 32%.
Clarke American Checks, Inc. (PDF, 49 KB)
Based in San Antonio, Texas, this manufacturer of financial forms and accessories increased its market share by more than 50% in five years and implemented more than 20,000 ideas from associates in one year for $10 million in cost savings.
Continuous improvement techniques and tools can raise student achievement, enhance accountability and help administrators and teachers meet legislated requirements. Schools can also achieve and document increases in teacher, parent and student satisfaction.
Cutting Wasteful Steps, Improving Efficiency in Contract Procurement Process Saves Chicago Public Schools Millions
The third largest school district in the United States, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), manages more than $2 billion in annual contract obligations for services and supplies. Identifying a need to improve a procurement process that had long grown inefficient, CPS officials hired consultant George Chemers to support the implementation of the new vision for an efficient process. Through a number of workshops, Chemers helped staff identify opportunities to streamline the contract procurement process while also improving budget forecasting. The lean review cut the process in half while saving the school district millions of dollars. April 2015
A Wisconsin School District's Lean Route to Improving Student Literacy
With student literacy scores becoming stagnant, Kimberly Area School District (Kimberly) teachers used lean tools to address one of the most complex issues facing teachers. As a result of standard work created by teachers, the culture within school buildings changed from independent to collaborative. Upon employing standard work around planning and instruction, Kimberly’s literacy results improved dramatically. February 2015
Origami Lean Training Exercise
Providing hands-on experiences to students is essential for lean workshops. Origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, can be used to provide students with a hands-on experience for understanding process thinking and process steps. The activity can be effective at conveying quality tools and concepts for all age groups. Read this exclusive online case study. September 2014
10-Year Quality Journey Leads to Baldrige Honor for Wisconsin School District
A decade ago, as the Pewaukee School District deployed the Baldrige framework, it also embraced a systematic problem solving culture, resulting in innovative solutions for serving students. By tailoring instruction to meet students’ needs, key measures such as graduation rates and ACT scores improved significantly. Using quality examiner feedback as an improvement road map, the district captured three Wisconsin Forward Awards before earning the nation’s highest quality recognition, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, in 2013. July 2014
North Carolina School District Overcomes Admin Turnover, Budget Cuts to Fuel Improvement
After working for more than five years to meet its quality success goal, Iredell-Statesville Schools (North Carolina) was named a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipient in 2008. But when a key administrator left his job soon after and the national economic recession clamped tight on public money coming into the school district, the staff's commitment to continuous improvement was challenged more than ever before. Firmly committed to the PDSA cycle, staff have streamlined processes, saved hundreds of thousands of dollars, and helped students achieve more in the classroom than ever before. July 2014
Using Quality Tools and Lean Solutions, Pennsylvania Schools Save Millions (PDF, 146 KB)
In 2003, a quality team at Mt. Lebanon School District in Pennsylvania created a new school supply procurement system in conjunction with a global office supplies retailer. Using various quality tools to revamp the district’s system, the improvement team helped save the district about $250,000 in four years. The district’s success led to the creation of a dynamic customized quality procurement system that has helped streamline the processes and reduce the cost of supplies for more than 100 schools in western Pennsylvania. December 2013
Quality Strategy Improves Business School Placements (PDF, 103 KB)
Using competitive benchmarking and quality tools, Ramaiah Institute of Management Studies improved job placement results for its students, decreasing the number of interviews required to secure a position and increasing the mean salary offer, while also adding a new source of revenue for the organization. March 2013
Certifiably Improving Quality Professionals (PDF, 313 KB)
From the moment multiple ASQ certification holder and senior member Bill Hooper began tutoring his first ASQ Michiana Section pupil, he realized that teaching is his call to service in supporting the quality cause. Since 2005, Bill has taught certification bodies of knowledge to more than 80 individuals with a 95 percent pass rate. Through teaching others, Bill has become a better practitioner with his own process improvement project savings in the multimillions. January 2012
Business School Improves Learning, Research, and Placement Measures With TQM (PDF, 385 KB)
A cross-functional team at RIMS, a graduate business school in India, used TQM principles to improve measures of learning, faculty research, and graduate placement. The team earned the “Award of Distinction” in the 2010 Education Team Excellence Award process. February 2011
ISU’s Facilities Planning and Management Organization Uses State Award as Guidepost on Quality Journey (PDF, 178 KB)
The facilities planning and management operation at Iowa State University is one of only three organizations in the past 10 years to earn the Baldrige-based Iowa Recognition for Performance Excellence gold award. April 2010.
CQPA Certification Provides Competitive Edge for New Grads (PDF, 289 KB)
Brigham Young University statistics and quality science majors who earned the Certified Quality Process Analyst (CQPA) certification quickly found internships and full-time employment. February 2010.
Texas District Uses Peer Assessments to Measure Scorecard Achievement (PDF, 194 KB)
The Aldine Independent School District’s peer review assessment model has received state and national recognition as a best practice for performance improvement. The model helps the district gauge the level of deployment for strategic goals, objectives, and action plans. October 2009.
Can a Fishbone Diagram Stop a Bully? (PDF, 373 KB)
In Community Consolidated School District 15, elementary students use quality tools to set goals, track academic progress, and even address behavioral issues such as playground bullying. September 2009.
PDSA: A Road Map to Improved Writing Skills (PDF, 340 KB)
Using the plan, do, study, act cycle, Winston Campus Elementary in Palatine, Illinois, boosted sixth grade student writing test scores by 36 percent. September 2009.
Former Baldrige Recipient Rekindles Its Quality Fire (PDF, 256 KB)
Since Community Consolidated School District 15 in suburban Chicago received the Baldrige award in 2003, front-line staff members have continued the improvement effort by relying on quality tools such as the plan, do, study, act model. August 2009.
Quality Club Teaches Today’s Learners to Become Tomorrow's Leaders (PDF, 186 KB)
Students who participate in a quality club at Hunting Ridge School in Palatine, Illinois, learn continuous improvement methods and then conduct training sessions for their peers. August 2009.
Taking a Snapshot in Time: Pewaukee School District’s Approach to Baldrige-Based Award Program (PDF, 101 KB)
The Pewaukee School District became the first K-12 district to receive a Mastery level award in the Baldrige-based Wisconsin Forward Award (WFA) program. Pewaukee’s continuous improvement activities extend beyond student learning to all corners of operations. August 2008.
Wisconsin School District Captures State Quality Awards by Collaborating for Continuous Improvement (PDF, 82 KB)
In 2004, Viking Elementary School in the Holmen School District became the first K-12 applicant for the Baldrige-based Wisconsin Forward Award, earning a Proficiency level award. One year later, Holmen Middle School captured a Wisconsin Forward Award at the Commitment level. The district’s continuous improvement effort emphasizes the plan, do, study, act (PDSA) cycle and teacher collaboration. August 2008.
Iredell-Statesville School District: Using Baldrige to Improve Teaching and Learning (PDF, 282 KB)
Iredell-Statesville School District shows how a sustained effort to use the plan, do, study, act (PDSA) method and the Baldrige framework can bring results like improved reading scores and SAT scores. May 2008.
Growing Indiana School District Stretches for Improvement Using Baldrige Model (PDF, 176 KB)
With test scores rising and new schools opening, the Westfield Washington School District, an ASQ Educational Institution member, decided the time was right to take on greater challenges and reach for higher levels of continuous quality improvement. The district submitted its first application for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in spring 2007. October 2007.
Iowa School District Charts the Path for Continuous Improvement Journey (PDF, 220 KB)
Introduced in 2006, the Cedar Rapids Community School District's continuous improvement initiative uses the Malcolm Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence framework. Although it's early in the journey, the district has already earned a bronze award in the Iowa Recognition for Performance Excellence awards program. May 2007.
Continuous Improvement in Public Schools Through ISO 9001:2000 (PDF, 276 KB)
Since Racine Unified School District achieved ISO 9001:2000 certification, the district has made notable progress in closing the achievement gap between demographic groups in reading and math, decreasing truancy and suspensions, and increasing parent satisfaction. October 2006.
Illinois School District Makes the Grade (PDF, 163 KB)
Since Pekin District launched a Koalaty Kid program in 2000, standardized test results for the district have consistently exceeded the state average, and two of its schools have earned No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon awards. July 2006.
Henking Elementary Closes the Learning Gap (PDF, 113 KB)
Henking Elementary School used its Koalaty Kid program and the plan-do-study-act cycle to improve student writing scores significantly over the course of one school year. June 2006.
Nevada School District Saves Millions Through Process Management (PDF, 53 KB)
Clark County School District, the largest school district in America to be ISO 9001:2000 certified, has accommodated a rapidly expanding student population while achieving $174 million in cost avoidance and cost savings over 10 years. May 2006.
Student Achievement Soars With Use of Quality Strategies (PDF, 53 KB)
The Kingsley Elementary approach to writing excellence can help schools targeted by No Child Left Behind meet acceptable standards in one year. Using the Four Square writing method and the Koalaty Kid program, Kingsley Elementary improved student scores on achievement tests by 49% in one year and 68% over four years. May 2006.
Oklahoma School District Goes Over the Top (PDF, 252 KB)
The Jenks public school district, a 2005 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipient, saw its dropout rate decrease from 6.3% in 1999 to 1.2% at the close of the 2004 school year. May 2006.
Improve Schools With Empowerment Based Models (PDF, 235 KB)
Enhanced logic model results in a three-phase initiative to improve curriculum and change classroom practices at Sheboygan Area School District in Wisconsin. August 2005.
Narrow Focus Provides Widespread Benefits (PDF, 176 KB)
Kenneth W. Monfort College of Business is the only business school to have received the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. August 2005.
Quality Approaches in Higher Education (PDF, 3.1 MB)
Three articles: 1) Many universities now sponsor Centers of Teaching and Learning (CoTLs) as a key strategy for improving student learning. 2) Faculty in the Organizational Leadership and Supervision program at the University of Houston developed cooperative, multi-class projects that challenge static and passive learning patterns in traditional methods of instruction. 3) Engaging multiple stakeholders to ensure college access and success for all.
Pearl River, New York School District (PDF, 73 KB)
Increased student and parent satisfaction to 92% and 96%, respectively.
Community Consolidated School District 15 (PDF, 89 KB)
This school district in the Chicago Suburb of Palatine, Illinois exceeded the national average of second graders reading at or above grade level (84% compared to an average of 48%) and achieved lower teacher turnover rates than the national average (11.7% versus 20%).
Chugach School District (PDF, 83 KB)
This Alaskan school district serves about 200 students spread over 22,000 square miles. After pioneering a new standards-based teaching approach, student test scores rose dramatically in reading, math and language arts, and students topped stavt averages on all areas of the state’s high-school graduation exams.
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Brandeis University
At the school’s Waltham, Massachusetts campus, focusing on customers and continuous improvement drove a 45% increase in program membership in five years and helped attract new funding from trusts and grants to cover costs, allowing revenue to go straight to the university’s bottom line.
Case Study: Reliance Industries Limited Wins Team Excellence Award Competition (PDF, 262 KB)
See how a team from India used quality tools to reduce waste and production costs while creating a cleaner environment. November 2006.
Help Desk Improves Service and Saves Money with Six Sigma (PDF, 171 KB)
A help desk service for a telecom company in Ecuador used Six Sigma to reduce their average solution time from 9.75 hours to 1 hour and decreased operating costs by 69%. November 2006.
What Do CEOs Think About Quality? (PDF, 649 KB)
ASQ surveyed executives to learn what they currently think and to help quality professionals make the economic case for quality. From Quality Progress - May 2004 Greg Weiler, ASQ project leader
Six Sigma and the Bottom Line (PDF, 136 KB) by Soren Bisgaard and Johannes Freiesleben
This Quality Progress article explains the economic benefits of Six Sigma, Black Belts (BBs) and Green Belts (GBs) must speak the language of upper management.