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Learn About Quality

Quality Tools A to Z

Quality Tools on ASQTV™


Quality Glossary Definition: Quality tools

Quality tools are defined as an instrument or technique to support and improve the activities of quality management and improvement.

Explore ASQ's list of quality tools to find new ways to help you identify causes, understand processes, collect and analyze data, generate ideas, keep projects on track, and make informed decisions for all of your continuous improvement activities. Also visit ASQ's online quality glossary for more definitions of tools and terms.

Quality Templates and Excel Tools

Box and whisker plot (Excel) This graphical plotting tool goes beyond the traditional histogram by providing you with easy-to-read displays of variation data from multiple sources, for more effective decision making.

Check sheet (Excel) Use this simple, flexible tool to collect data and analyze it with histogram and Pareto charts.

Control chart (Excel) See how a control chart tracks process change over time, and create your own.

Design of experiments (DOE) (Excel) This powerful tool helps you see the effect multiple input factors can have on a desired output (response), exposing important interactions that may be missed when experimenting with one factor at a time.

Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) (Excel) Use this template to evaluate the potential failure of a product or process and its effects, and then identify actions that could eliminate or reduce the occurrence of the potential failure.

Fishbone (cause-and-effect) diagram (Excel) Analyze process dispersion with this simple, visual tool. The resulting diagram illustrates the main causes and subcauses leading to an effect (symptom).

Flowchart (Excel) Create a graphical representation of the steps in a process to better understand it and reveal opportunities for improvement.

Gantt chart (Excel) This tool can be used in process planning and control to display planned tasks and finished work in relation to time.

Histogram (Excel) Analyze the frequency distribution of up to 200 data points using this simple—but powerful—histogram generating tool.

Pareto chart (Excel) Use this quick and very basic tool to capture and analyze problem occurrences.

Relations diagram checklist, template, and template instructions (DOCs and PDF) Mainly used to identify logical relationships in a complex and confusing problem situation, the strength of an interrelationship diagram is its ability to visualize such relationships. The process of creating an interrelationship diagram can help groups analyze the natural links between different aspects of a complex situation.

Scatter diagram (Excel) This tool shows the relationship between an input, X, and the output, Y. If a relationship exists, the input is correlated to the output.

Stratification diagram (Excel) Analyze data collected from various sources to reveal patterns or relationships often missed by other data analysis techniques. By using unique symbols for each source, you can view data sets independently or in correlation to other data sets.

Quality Tools in Healthcare

Case Studies and Articles

The following examples show how these quality tools and templates can be used in a healthcare setting.

What's the Plan? (Quality Progress) When ER-One of Livonia, Michigan, needed to transition the management of newly acquired hospital emergency departments to its organization, it turned to advanced implementation quality planning (AIQP).

Development and Implementation of a New Process for Handling Add-On Lab Orders at Duluth Clinic–Ashland (PDF)Read a case study that includes a control plan created at SMDC Health System’s Duluth Clinic—Ashland Laboratory as part of a successful project to improve the handling of add-on laboratory test orders.

Tip of the Iceberg (Quality ProgressHeartland Health’s iceberg is a pyramid that depicts the vision of the organization, a Baldrige Award recipient, and illustrates its bottom-up, holistic approach to healthcare.  

Taking Process Improvement Beyond the Quality Department (PDF) Team improvement projects are key to process improvement at Genesis Health System (GHS), who shares its road map for bringing together key stakeholders and process owners in kaizen blitz teams

Lean Nursing (PDF, Quality Engineering) A case study demonstrates the use of lean Six Sigma to reduce length of stay for patients with total hip replacements while at the same time reducing costs.

Jersey Score (Quality Progress) Baldrige recipient AtlantiCare's 5Bs framework aims to make the organization the best in five areas: quality, customer service, people and workplace, growth, and financial performance.

A Dose of DMAIC (Quality Progress) Hospital pharmacy's use of process capability studies as part of a Six Sigma and lean effort to improve wait times, efficiency, and patient flow.

Get the Whole Picture (Quality Progress) Two healthcare programs used systems thinking, which helps you analyze how multiple processes fit together and work in tandem, to improve service to patients, save money, and cut waste.

Additional Tools and Templates

The following include a template and additional methods to use in a healthcare setting.

Employee instruction sheet (XLS) Use this employee instruction sheet, submitted by Matthew Bommarito, to capture the components of process documentation on one comprehensive worksheet. The downloadable spreadsheet includes separate tabs with instructions, a template, and an example from Heartland Regional Medical Center, St. Joseph, MO.

Force field analysis Force field analysis is based on the assumption that any situation is the result of forces for and against the current state being in equilibrium. Countering the opposing forces and/or increasing the favorable forces will help induce a change.

Impact effort matrix The impact effort matrix provides answers to the question of which solutions seem easiest to achieve with the most effects.

Problem concentration diagram A problem concentration diagram helps you connect events to physical locations, thus perhaps revealing patterns of occurrence.

Purpose and applications of interrelationship diagrams Relations diagrams can help you identify relationships in a complex or confusing problem situation.

SIPOC+CM diagram A suppliers, inputs, processes, outputs, customers (SIPOC) diagram offers a high-level view of the "as is" state of a process under investigation. The +C stands for constraints facing the system and the +M for the measures to be used.

Job Aid: How to Create a SIPOC Diagram (PDF) Use this job aid when you conduct team sessions to develop a suppliers, inputs, process, outputs, customers (SIPOC) diagram. 

SMART matrix A SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, resources, time) matrix is a communication and planning tool used to identify the specifics of actions or tasks.

Success and effect diagram: Quality improvement Is not just for problems Understanding successful processes can give you insight on how to improve other processes and continually improve efficiency and effectiveness—this tool can help you analyze successful processes and is a hybrid of the popular cause and effect diagram.

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