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Business Process Analysis

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The paper is devoted to the analysis of the Greasex case and TQM processes. TQM is becoming more and more popular, and many companies including Greasex use it to manage the quality of their products and services efficiently. In order to implement TQM, firms can also use the PDCA cycle in detail to plan all actions and processes. Other methods aimed at improving quality are the Six-Sigma philosophy and the DMAIC cycle within it. However, not all companies can implement these mechanisms successfully. In the Greasex case, it is important to investigate the possibility of their usage in terms of TQM, find out issues or challenges and offer solutions to cope with them. Therefore, the determination of the causes of quality problems at Greasex will help to find steps to provide quality and overcome problems to ensure its continuous improvement.

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There are a number of approaches that Hank Kolb, Director of Quality Assurance at Greasex could look into to enhance their process. Two of the approaches are Total Quality Management and Dimensions of Quality. There are 8 dimensions to quality and 8 elements that need to be recognized prior to implementing total quality management.

Total Quality Management (TQM)

Total quality management was established in the 1950s (Padhi, 2016). In order to successfully begin the process of implementing total quality management (TQM) 8 elements must be established. The elements of TQM are ethics, integrity, trust, training, teamwork, leadership, recognition, and communication. With the implementation of the TQM process products being created should be expected to improve.

Prior to the execution of TQM certain elements must be in place. These elements are ethics, integrity, and trust. The reason why these elements are so important is because they are needed to ensure that the managements team has faith in the decisions that are being made and that employees follow the guidelines that are set for them even when no one is looking.

Once the trust is built within the team they can begin to focus on the elements such as leadership, teamwork, and training (Padhi, 2016). This group of elements ensures that the team knows how to do the actual task at hand and that they can do it in the most efficient way available to them.

Communication should be used in all of the stages to ensure that the goals and vision of the project is clearly understood.

Lastly recognition must be acknowledged. Most individuals like to be recognized when they do something positive and should be. Team members should also be given constructive criticism to foster improvement.

Once the elements are in place we can begin the execution of the TQM process which includes plan, do, check, and act also known as the (PDCA cycle) (Rouse, 2014). During the Planning stage management with the assistance of employees (if needed) determine the problem that they are facing, data as well as samples are collected, the reason for the problem is also identified. Once this is complete the team enters the Do stage. During this stage the team comes up with a solution, how to apply the solution, and a method to measure the successfulness of the solution. Next is the Checking stage to actually measure the outcome of the TQM implementation on the process. Lastly, people document the result, inform others about process changes, and make recommendations for the problem to be addressed in the next PDCA cycle.

A study by Kevin B. Hendricks, of The College of William and Mary’s School of Business, and Vinod R. Singhal, of Georgia Institute of Technology’s DuPree College of Management, began in 1991 (March, 1998). The purpose of the study was to examine the effects of TQM on a company. The idea of this study was created when one of the professors noticed that a particular companys stock rose after they won a quality award after implementing TQM even though the Dow Jones fell drastically that day. The study was long term and looked for a link between financial performance and the implementation of TQM at publically traded companies.

The results were that there was no significant difference in financial performance while implementing TQM although many people thought that there would be additional cost while implementing. The study also found that smaller companies also benefited from implementing TQM. Stock prices rose by 80-114 percentages for companies that implemented TQM and also won awards for improving the quality of their image3.pngproduct.

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Dimension of Quality

There are eight dimensions of quality. They are performance, features, reliability, conformance, durability, serviceability, aesthetics, and perception.

Performance gauges that the product does what it was created to do. Features look to make sure that the product has all the specifications that it was intended to have. Reliability ensures that the product is consistent and accurate. Conformance looks at whether the product meets the benchmarks that were set for it. Durability is related to the life of the product as well as the conditions the product could withstand. Aesthetics is the way that the product looks, such as its color, shape, and texture. Perception is peoples opinion about the product (Pereira, 2008).

Dimension of quality is an extremely important to manufacturing and has to be weighed heavily. If a product does not meet the dimensions of quality the consequences for that product will be negative. There are often products on the market that are similar or are used for the same purpose. The factor that often distinguishes these products is their quality.

However in many situations there are tradeoffs. For example In entering U.S. markets, Japanese manufacturers often emphasize their products reliability and conformance while downplaying options and features. The superior fits and finishes and low repair rates of Japanese cars are well known; less often recognized are their poor safety records and low resistance to corrosion (Garvin, 1987).

All product manufacturers must recognize these 8 elements even if they do not weigh the same in levels of importance.


Figure 4

Quality Process Improvement

Within the Greasex case, the processes that contributed to the finished product and the product itself lacked controlled, consistent quality as well as quality process improvement efforts (Jacobs, 2011). Quality and its continuous maintenance and improvement were essential for Greasex because of the overwhelming reality that their business relationships with its consumers depended on its consumers product expectations (2011). Greasexs responsibility as a producer and supplier was to ensure that all of their processes were overseen and controlled to generate a quality product for its consumers (2011). By the end of the case, the potential problems of incurring unnecessary costs, losing its consumers, and damaging its image were real risks for Greasex (2011). Quality is essential and a factor that any business entity like Greasex must take into account in a continuous, exhaustive manner to exist and succeed in any competitive environment.

Six-Sigma is a philosophy that observes defective sources as identifiable, measureable, and solvable to ensure high quality throughout all contributing processes and activities of the finished product (2011). Six-Sigma views all the contributors of the finished product as potential opportunities for defects to ensue (2011). The reality that business entities exist in an imperfect world leads to the respect and consideration that defects get from them because their processes are dependent on imperfect employees, equipment, etc. (2011). Based on the reality above, business entities must instill and inform accountability, unity, and teamwork within its culture (2011). All employees must realize that their positions, responsibilities, and communication influence each others performance as well as the processes that the finished product comes in an interconnected manner (2011). Business entities must recognize interconnectivity within themselves, so that processes are more controlled and have less variation when it comes to performance, being within the finished products specification limits (2011). Six-Sigma is essential for business entities who want to separate themselves from their competitors as well as maintain and enlarge their existing consumer base (2011). Overall, the external concern for ones consumers will ignite ones internal concern for business operations (2011).

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Within Six-Sigma philosophy, quality process improvement is represented through the methodology DMAIC cycle to support and ensure continuous quality improvement (2011). The DMAIC cycle consists of the five steps: define, measure, analyze, improve, and control (2011). The define step is where a business entity focuses on who its consumers are as well as its products quality characteristics that rely on its consumers demands (2011). The measure step focuses on measuring its processes performance and variations that are essential for its consumers demand for its product (2011). The analyze step is where calculations and measurements are focused on to determine causal relationships between process variables and occurrence of defects (2011). The improve step is where causal relationships are determined and action is taken to develop a system to monitor the process variations based on specification limits (2011). Finally, the control step is where the concern and application of preventive maintenance are discussed and acted upon to ensure quality process maintenance and improvement (2011). The DMAIC cycle is important for the development and application of quality techniques and maintenance as well as accountability when it comes to designing and producing a product (2011).

In the Greasex case, the analyze step is focused on determining the causal relationships leading to defective results through the cause-and-effect diagram (2011). This diagram is also known as the fishbone diagram based on how it is structured and formatted for its users (2011). The spine of the fish is labelled as the defective result, while the ribs are labelled as the contributing factors of the result (2011). This tool is important and easy to use to analyze a defects occurrence because it illustrates every contributor and causal relationship in relation to the defective result (2011). It stresses the reality that every individual is interconnected with and accountable to each other through job performance and communication, since a business entity is made up of individuals considering its overall purpose through their individual contributions (2011).

ISO certifications publicly reveal that a business entity is continuously practicing quality standards and techniques within all its business dealings resulting in its finished product (2011). These certifications are seriously recognized if an independent, third-party audit is performed on the business entity to ensure no bias (2011). To earn this certification, a business entity must show that their main priority is its consumers and their demands by exhibiting stable, beneficial practices within all business areas to ensure that its finished product meets consumers expectations and requirements (2011).

Key Questions

Q1: What are the causes of the quality problems on the Greasex line? Display your answer on a fishbone diagram image2.png

Q2-A- What general steps should Hank follow in setting up a continuous improvement program for the company?

We learnt from the class presentation (Han, 2016) and chapter reading (Jacobs & Chase, 2011) about key concepts in ensuring quality in production. We shall review the various learning to this case and present what Hank can follow using each of the methods and quality measurements discussed. Also, we shall present a discussion of what we propose for Hank to do in order to improve quality throughout the various departments as mentioned in our fishbone diagram.

First, Hank can benefit from using the Deming Wheel. According to the Deming Wheel, there are four main activities that support and lead to one another. One: Plan. Hank can set a plan to investigate and document the main problem causing the declining quality of products at the factory, and investigate how various issues contribute to this problem. Hank can learn about the problem and its causes by talking to people and reviewing documents. Two: Do. At this stage, Hank collects all the relative data from the previous stage. Three: Study. At this stage, Hank begins to study the information he collected, even running some analysis, control limits, Cp and Cpk. Four: Act. Based on his findings from the previous stages, Hank can now take action and monitor the progress of his proposed solution. He can also start the cycle again for further improvements.

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Second, Hank can use the Six Sigma Improvement Model. According to Jacobs & Chase (2011), Six Sigma is refers to the philosophy and methods companies such as General Electric and Motorola use to eliminate defects in their products and processes. A defect is simply any component that does not fall within the customers specification limits. …. A process that is in Six Sigma control will produce no more than two defects out of every billion units. Often, this is stated as 3.4 defects per million units, which is true if the process is only running somewhere within 1.5 sigma of the target specification (Jacobs & Chase, 2011, pp.291-292). The Six Sigma process cycle follows the DMAIC acronym which stands for Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control. Hank can follow and apply the Six Sigma process cycle as follows:

1.Define (D)

Identify the customers of the Greasex line.

Identify that the Greasex line product objectives, company direction and customers feedback matches the goals of Six Sigma.

Identify Critical-to-Quality (CTQ) characteristics based on customers feedback which affect the products quality.

2.Measure (M)

Determine how to measure the processes leading to the production of Greasex line and how it is performing.

Identify the processes that currently affect the CTQ of the Greasex line and measure the current defects caused by it.

3.Analyze (A)

Determine the probable causes of the defects, in this case, Hank can refer to causes from different departments (Human Resources, Maintenance, Purchasing, Product Design & Packaging, Manufacturing, Marketing, Order-processing and Production departments) which contribute to the quality problem with the Greasex line.

Understand why defects are happening (in this case, low quality of the Greasex line cans presented by high pressure in cans, slight blurs on the inside rims of the can covers, and nozzle head fitting problems).

4.Improve (I)

Identify ways to eliminate defect causes. In this case, Hank can review the fishbone diagram which presents the low quality causes for the Greasex line based on each department and attempt to solve these issues which collaboratively affect the low quality of the product.

Identify the key variables contributing to the problem (highlighted in blue color in the fishbone diagram in the previous section) and quantify their results on the CTQ.

Identify the highest acceptance ranges for these key variables and set a system to measure its deviation.

Keep modifying the process until an acceptable range is reached.

5.Control (C)

Identify ways to maintain these improvements.

Set systems that ensure the acceptable ranges of key variable remain consistent.

Third, Hank can invest in other strategies within the organization to improve the quality of the product and enhance the overall attitude towards quality. We believe this can be done in several ways. One: purchase the right equipment. From the case, it is obvious that the current filling equipment is not suitable for the Greasex line product as despite being modified several times, it keeps breaking down (affects production time) and does not produce a product that meets the standard quality requirement. The new equipment needs also to have preventative maintenance set in place. Two: Provide adequate training for employees and implement a cross training style where an employee can operate more than one equipment adequately in order to avoid mistakes caused by lack of training time or lack of personnel. Three: Sales representatives must have their inquiries answered promptly and concerns attended to by the vendor. They must ensure that the new equipment is the suitable one for the Greasex line product. Four: Conduct proper testing for the modified design and not rely on designers optimism. Five: The manufacturing department must comply and work together with the quality assurance department. There needs to be better communication and understanding of both departments needs and pressures, and managers of both departments need to brainstorm and work together for the benefit of the product and organization. Six: Enure proper coordination and communication between the marketing, order-processing and production departments where they understand each other’s obligations and demands and come up with solutions that do not affect the quality of the product. Perhaps go even a step further by setting quality as the main goal to meet ahead of other priorities. Finally, work on improving the perception of quality and diligently ensure that the attitude towards quality is a positive and supportive one by offering trainings, showing benefits on employees and organizations, setting strict disciplinary actions, encourage problem reporting and immediate action, and incorporate quality in the organizational culture across all departments.

Q2-B- What problems will he have to overcome to make it work?

In this case, Hank is faced with several issues and problems that collectively contribute to the decreasing quality and low attitude towards quality control in the organization in general and towards the Greasex line in particular. In order to review all these issues, we choose to mention them per department in order to follow the style of the presented case.

1. Human Resources Department

a. Problem: Operator missing during testing.

i. Solution: Fix scheduling issues to ensure that operators attend product testing.

ii. Solution: Set disciplinary action for negligence.

b. Problem: No formal training.

i. Solution: Proper training (otherwise operators are not allowed to work).

ii. Solution: Cross train employees.

iii. Solution: Plan for future situations of high workload and less staff.

2. Maintenance Department

a. Problem: Unsuitable, modified filling equipment.

i. Solution: Buy proper equipment

b. Problem: No preventative maintenance.

i. Solution: Proper planning.

ii. Solution: Schedule time for preventative maintenance.

c. Problem: Continuous repairs.

i. Solution: Set regular maintenance checks during off hours.

ii. Solution: Stock parts on location.

iii. Solution: Availability of technical experts at all shifts.

3. Purchasing Department

a. Problem: Rush order.

i. Solution: Proper planning of purchasing ahead of time.

ii. Solution: They should reject any defective orders from vendors.

4. Product Design & Packaging Department

a. Problem: No test on the new contoured design.

i. Solution: Set proper testing before rolling the design, otherwise, cannot use the new design.

5. Manufacturing Department

a. Problem: Manager only concerned about meeting shipping quotas.

i. Solution: Set quality as an equally important deadline to meet (like shipping quotas) through reward or punishment.

ii. Solution: Set quota for using the rework area.

iii. Solution: Set procedures and guidelines of work between manufacturing and quality control that must be followed by all employees.

6. Marketing Department

a. Problem: Pressure to beat competitors.

i. Solution: Set proper planning and realistic scheduling expectations.

7. Order-Processing Department

a. Problem: Swamped with orders – so Greasex line orders were pushed in the end.

i. Solution: Provide backup for order processors (or increase overtime).

ii. Solution: Set a new system of receiving orders that prevents order-takers from moving orders around. Orders should be processed as they arrive.

8. Production Department

a. Problem: Strict deadline to meet so they overpass quality checks and warnings.

i. Solution: Prioritize quality.

ii. Solution: Work with the quality personnel to brainstorm ideas that help maintain deadlines while effectively going through quality control.

9. Overall attitude towards quality in the organization

a. Problem: Low attitude and respect for quality and quality controllers work

i. Solution: Form quality control council that involves the general manager.

ii. Solution: Produce a quality procedure book that is available to all employees.

iii. Solution: Incorporate quality in the organizational culture.

iv. Solution: Conduct regular quality practices and procedures training for all employees.

v. Solution: Allow ease of submitting quality concerns and feedback and take immediate action.

Discussion / Conclusion

More and more companies use the TQM approach to manage their quality, but not all do it successfully. In particular, the Greasex case represents the situation with issues in its implementation. Studying and defining problems at the company has enabled to put forward recommendations to improve the situation. In terms of the Greasex case, three questions have been answered. The answer to the first question about the causes of quality problems on the Greasex line is displayed on a detailed fishbone diagram. It showed that the main factors leading to challenges include issues with scheduling during testing, lack of tests on design, lack of personnel and proper planning, and others. These problems are deep and relate to different departments of the organization, namely, the human resource department, as well as maintenance, purchasing, product design and packaging, manufacturing, marketing, order-processing, and production departments, and the whole company.

As far as the second question is concerned, general steps that Hank should follow in setting up a continuous improvement program for the company have been determined. They include benefiting from using the Deming Wheel and the Six Sigma Improvement Model. In addition, the possible application of the Six Sigma process cycle for Greasex can be effective. Considering the Deming Wheel, four main activities support and lead to one another, namely, planning, doing, studying and acting. Thus, these should be implemented for Greasex to improve its TQM. The Six Sigma Improvement Model has also been proven resultative. In particular, the paper has provided recommendations to the Greasex manager on using the steps of that model. He should define customers and the product line, conduct measurement of processes, analyze problems to find out reasons for issues, improve processes, and control such improvements. Some other possible strategies for Greasex have also been studied. They include purchasing better equipment, providing adequate training to employees and implementing a cross-training style, making sales representatives have their inquiries answered promptly and concerns attended to by the vendor, providing proper testing of the modified design, and ensuring proper coordination and communication between the marketing, order-processing, and production departments.

Answering the third question has enabled to determine what problems should be overcome to make improvements in work were studied. In particular, they include problems associated with the work of several departments of Greasex and the whole company. The latter is recommended to cope with scheduling and disciplinary problems, provide better training to its employees, buy new equipment, and schedule time for preventative maintenance. Hiring available technical experts to fix problems, improving working relations with vendors and purchasing planning, testing new designs in advance, setting a new system for orders, focusing on quality and improving procedures for working with quality are other effective solutions. Therefore, if Greasex resolves all problems outlined above, it can improve its quality easily.

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