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Learn About Quality

The 7 Basic Quality Tools for Process Improvement

Quality Glossary Definition: Seven tools of quality

"The Old Seven." "The First Seven." "The Basic Seven."

Quality pros have many names for these seven basic tools of quality, first emphasized by Kaoru Ishikawa, a professor of engineering at Tokyo University and the father of "quality circles." Start your quality journey by mastering these tools, and you'll have a name for them too: indispensable.

Cause-and-effect diagram (also called Ishikawa or fishbone diagrams): Identifies many possible causes for an effect or problem and sorts ideas into useful categories.

Check sheet: A structured, prepared form for collecting and analyzing data; a generic tool that can be adapted for a wide variety of purposes.

Control chart: Graph used to study how a process changes over time. Comparing current data to historical control limits leads to conclusions about whether the process variation is consistent (in control) or is unpredictable (out of control, affected by special causes of variation).

Histogram: The most commonly used graph for showing frequency distributions, or how often each different value in a set of data occurs.

Pareto chart: A bar graph that shows which factors are more significant.

Scatter diagram: Graphs pairs of numerical data, one variable on each axis, to look for a relationship.

Stratification: A technique that separates data gathered from a variety of sources so that patterns can be seen (some lists replace stratification with flowchart or run chart). 

7 Basic Quality Tool Templates

These templates will help you get started using the seven basic quality tools. Just download the spreadsheets and begin entering your own data.

7 Basic Quality Tool Resources

You can also search articles, case studiespublications, and webcasts for quality tool resources.


The ASQ Quality Improvement Pocket Guide

Innovative Control Charting

The Quality Toolbox


Pitch Perfect (Lean & Six Sigma Review) Learning the ins and outs of capability analysis by examining a baseball pitcher’s performance.

Fish(bone) Stories (Quality Progress) Today’s technology makes it easier than ever to communicate complex concepts more clearly, which is why older, "analog" quality methods should be digitized. The authors explore how digitizing one of the seven basic quality tools—the fishbone diagram—using mind mapping can significantly improve the tool.

Don't Misuse The Pareto Principle (Six Sigma Forum Magazine) Four commonly held misconceptions of the Pareto principle are discussed that have prevented some companies from realizing the true potential of the principle.

One Check to Rule Them All (Quality Progress) Check sheets were used to help an organization's Medicare Managed Care-focused operation gather data and pinpoint the specific problems, which helped them implement changes to eliminate rework and ultimately achieve almost $200,000 in labor efficiency.

Case Studies

Using Control Charts In A Healthcare Setting (PDF) 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.


Quality Process Analyst Certification--CQPA

Excerpted from The Quality Toolbox, ASQ Quality Press.

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