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Multicultural impact on your Quality and Safety management

­­The world is getting smaller, which means a more diverse company culture and multicultural organisation with multiple languages. Lots of companies work with people from different countries. Whether it is a trucker, a specialist engineer, or a welder from around the world.

Demand and supply are filled from every corner of the globe. It is amazing we live in a world where this is possible, but it introduces some challenges related to quality and safety management. When we want to keep this on the highest standard possible, we need to make sure that most of the critical information is well understood by everybody. Making all the documents and ways of working understandable for everybody and in every language isn’t always easy. Mistakes in aligning the cultural differences goes way back. However, with a more globalized economy, not just the big enterprises need to mitigate them.

Language Differences

With all those different kinds of people, there are language differences. People might speak English but they could be having difficulties really understanding it. When English isn’t your native language it can be hard really expressing yourself in it. In such a case, make sure all the important instructions are available in the employee’s native language. The risk of mistakes caused by employees not understanding what to do is just too high. Translating the different information and checklists can be hard—especially when you want to keep analyzing all the information regardless of the language. However, not providing the information in the native language introduces risks which are simply unacceptable.

A common solution for a lot of companies is to have a team leader who speaks English and communicates with the team. This works fine, but it also introduces communication problems. Having the important work instructions, safety guides, and procedures in the native language of the employees is the best way forward. This way you give them the option to really understand how to operate in the best possible way.

Managing all the documents in different languages requires a proper document management solution otherwise you will go crazy. However, when you have a significant number of employees with different native languages it is important to do this.

Cultural Differences

Apart from the language differences there are also quite some cultural differences when you work with people from different countries. They have been trained in a different way from a very young age and are used to doing things a certain way. This might not always align with the way the company does these things.

These cultural differences are something that needs to be taking care of the moment the new employee steps into the company. Make sure the person is trained on how the company handles certain things and colleagues should behave. A great example is the handling of NCRs. In some countries this isn’t really accepted because making mistakes is penalized. While maybe in your company you want more NCRs be filed because it helps you to improve the company. When you hire someone from a culture where this isn’t very straightforward, you need to train this new employee on that mindset.

Conclusion

Yes, having multiple cultures in your company introduces additional work and costs but being aware of the risks of not dealing with it is simply too high. Therefore it is essential that crucial information is available in the native language of the employee.

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NCR, Who is responsible for it?

NCRs and issues happen in any company. The way the company handles these is what defines the culture of the organization. More often than not, the responsibility is simply dropped at the Quality/Safety department regardless of their knowledge of the matter. Yes, Quality/Safety should be informed about it, but they cannot and should not be responsible for everything that goes wrong. Check out how we believe NCRs should be handled.

Filing NCRs/Issues

The first step is getting employees to file NCRs/Issues. There should be hardly any boundaries for them to file one. (link to easily creating them). The creation form for an NCR/Issue should be no more than five input fields, including the options to add pictures and be mobile accessible. Keeping this step easy will allow for much more data from the field. The employees on the ground really know what is going on, so make sure you leverage their knowledge.

Responsibility

When the NCR has been filed, not all the information is known yet. The NCR owner has the responsibility to get the report fully filled in and to make sure all the data is collected properly. Quality/Safety shouldn’t be the owner of all the NCRs, however, they should be informed about the issue. Line managers should own the NCRs that have been reported in by someone in their department or team. These managers are close to the operations and therefore able to collect the required information. Also, most of the time they know much better what goes on at the operations level.

owner has the responsibility to get the report fully filled in and to make sure all the data is collected properly. Quality/Safety shouldn’t be the owner of all the NCRs, however, they should be informed about the issue. Line managers should own the NCRs that have been reported in by someone in their department or team. These managers are close to the operations and therefore able to collect the required information. Also, most of the time they know much better what goes on at the operations level.

CAPA Plan

Next to the data that needs to be collected, there will be specific actions. These actions can either be planned by the responsible manager or by the Quality/Safety department. These actions should help to solve the issue immediately or even prevent certain issues from happening in the future.

The actions should be distributed among the employees and no task should be owned by more than one person. This distribution of actions increases the engagement and allows for collecting data from the person that has the most knowledge of the matter.

Feedback

Provide feedback to the person that filed the issue. This feedback can be simply a summary of how the company handled it. The engagement will be so much higher when people get informed because they see that the company really cares and actually does something with their reports.

Next Steps

When all the NCRs are filled, it is up to Quality/Safety to make sense of it all.Analyze the results, find the common root cause, and analyze their financial impact. When the data is structured, you will see how impressive it can be and how much money the company leaves on the table by repeating errors.

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Bring your quality & safety inspections to the next level

Filling out paper forms is very time-consuming. No one enjoys it, especially when it means a lot of extra work after forms are filled in. Usually the forms have to be checked and re-entered to the quality management system, which means hours of additional work every week—for nothing. Using pre-configured and custom mobile forms, your company can easily save hours of valuable time per inspection.

Analysis

It’s hard to monitor progress or draw conclusions from a stack of papers. Manually entering data into a spreadsheet or other document and creating reports is time-consuming and carries the potential for human errors, including inaccurate or omitted information.

On the other hand, digital forms are automatically uploaded into your quality management system, where it is compared to existing data. From there it’s easy to track progress, setbacks, health and safety concerns, and other significant events, allowing quality inspectors to easily create impactful reports.

Incident Reports

Digitizing the management system means that on average 30% more incident reports come in. The ease of use lowers the barriers because it makes it easy for employees to fill in digital forms during their inspection walks on their phone or tablet. Besides that, they also have the possibility to attach a picture with a description of the non-conformity. All these processes have been simplified so that incidents are actually reported.

Take Action

After you’ve collected data and identified a potential problem, it’s time to take action. Plan your corrective and preventive action in a proper manner and make them actionable. By directly assigning the action to the responsible person, it becomes much easier to manage the action that resulted from the inspection. With an online quality management platform you can easily track progress on the tasks and analyze their effectiveness.

Qooling

With Qooling, paper quality and safety inspections are history. The online solution offersyou a simple way to digitize your quality and safety inspections and reduce the dailyworkload. Log in from any location and have real-time insight into the work of your team, anytime and everywhere. Try it today!

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CAPA Management and how to structure this

Corrective and preventive actions (CAPA) have been subject to changes the last years due to some modifications to several standards. These recent changes made a lot of companies choose to get rid of the preventive actions. Regardless of the changes, the struggles of managing these tasks is still present. There are still multiple actions pending per employee, regardless of the wording.

Origin of the Task

The different tasks can originate from a number of different sources. Activities like a management walk, incident, customer complaint or an audit. These tasks are then stored in Excel documents or similar, which leads to long lists of actions with different due dates and statuses. Tracking the origin of the task is not only crucial for analyzing the data, but also to track the progress. One incident can hold multiple tasks, these origins show exactly which tasks need to be done to finish the incident report.

Manage the Sheet

The Excel doc that holds all the tasks (CAPA) quickly holds hundreds of records. To organize the data, multiple tabs get introduced and more columns are added to allow better shifting of data. The concept behind this Excel document is that every employee checks his/her tasks in the document and changes the data when something has been done. This sounds great in theory, but it is not so good in practice. Some things that happen to the file are: ● Employees don’t close the file and therefore “keep it occupied”. ● People start to add a bunch of fields to keep in the data or don’t know where to store it. ● Employees cannot find the document. The list is pretty long, which is why this method breaks pretty quickly when you some employees. In order to solve this, companies make the Quality Manager responsible for managing the list. This method is undoable and requires a lot of time and effort.

Automate CAPA

Picking a proper solution for managing the tasks will give instant structure. The employees will not be able to change the sheet whenever they see fit. Everyone will get notified when tasks are due and they can access it from anywhere in the world. The integration with other parts of the management system makes it very easy to track why a certain task was started. This makes task management on certain incidents fairly easy because it is simple to filter which tasks are pending on the incident. Tasks management is a crucial part of the improvement plan. Make sure you structure this properly in order to keep track of the improvement plan in the best way possible. Published by:

How to design a good nonconformity report

A good nonconformity report has all the information that is needed, and is easy to understand by others in the organization. This sounds trivial and easy to do, however in practice it can be a lot harder to put together. The report is actually a way to communicate what went wrong somewhere in the company with everybody in the organization. Clear sentences and proper detailed descriptions are crucial. A lot of confusion can be prevented by having an easy to use NC form, so it is vital that it is done correctly.

Keep It Simple

More often than not we see quite complex nonconformity reports. The form has a ton of questions which people in the field don’t feel like filling in. Their jobs are to build and produce, not to fill in forms. So it is important to keep the form simple. Make sure that the people in the field only have to fill in just a couple of questions which holds the bare minimum of information for the manager to create the report.

Reduce Freedom

In order to analyze properly, make sure you use pre-defined fields in your nonconformity form. This way you will have consistent information to analyze. Also ensure that the person filling in the nonconformity doesn’t have the option to come up with a whole story that is hard to understand. These predefined selections make life a lot easier both for the quality department and the person that fills in the form.

Photos

Always add pictures to the nonconformity report. Pictures say more than thousands words and are much easier to interpret by someone else. He or she simply looks at the image and sees what went wrong. All mobile phones these days allow you to take a photo or two of the situation and add it to the report. With the latest quality platforms you now have mobile apps that integrate directly with your quality management system for even faster reports. Check out how Qooling allows you to do this.

Root Cause

Support some kind of root cause analysis for the nonconformities. There are more than enough options to use. Just make sure you pick one and follow through. Some options are:

The root-cause analysis really allows the company to find out why things went wrong. Finding the root cause is important for setting up the right actions to prevent this from happening in the future. Coming up with a solution to just one cause will not lead to the desired results and still leaves room for the same kind of mistakes.

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A3 Problem Solving Tool

An effective and simple approach for problem solving is Toyota’s famous (lean) A3-approach. This problem solving technique is a good example of how problems can be handled in order to be eliminated efficiently. The A3 lean method can be applied in almost any problematic situation, provided that all the steps in the process are completed.

1.   Define the problem (Plan)

To clearly identify the problem, it is important to investigate the underlying problem. A handy tool for identifying the problem is the Kipling Method (What, Where, Who and How) or the 5 Whys, so that you get deeper and deeper into the problem and its cause. In addition, you can also use an application like Qooling, that makes it easy to report problems as soon as they occur. This will save time and help you quickly identify the cause.

2.   Break down the problem (Plan)

Once you have found the current problem, it’s time to capture and analyze the current situation. Make sure all the information of the problem is known. Try to really get to the root cause of the problem and work out what happened by breaking it down into parts.

3.   Set a target (Plan)

Formulate a clear and achievable goal: When will the problem be solved? What is the result and the effect you want to achieve? By setting clear goals, the change to solve a problem successfully is many times greater than when it is not.

4.   Analyze the root cause (Plan)

Now that you have clearly defined your goal, it is time to carry out a root cause analysis. This will help you reach the underlying cause of the problem. Proper issue management solution will support root cause analysis.

5.   Develop countermeasures (Do)

Countermeasures are your ideas for solving the problem. These can be changes in your business processes that bring you closer to solving the root cause. Make sure you create actions to track progress of this phase. Qooling allows you to easily manage these tasks and track the progress.

6.   Implement countermeasures (Do)

Analyze whether the countermeasure introduced has the intended effect. Make sure you have the end results of the tasks searchable.

7.   Evaluate results and processes (Check)

In far too many situations, the A3 process ends with the implementation of the countermeasures. It is crucial to measure results and compare them with the goal you have set. If your actual results differ from what was expected, do an investigation to find out why. Analyze your data and and see how often the same problems occur.

8.   Share new knowledge with employees

Once the results are back, it is important to share your insights with other employees. Qooling makes it possible to easily collaborate online with colleagues and share knowledge through our online solution. This will keep everyone up-to-date and reduces the chance of making the same mistake again.

By implementing this process properly you should be able to get a good feel for the cost of failure and how you can reduce this.

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Problem Solving Approach (8D) Method

The Eight Disciplines (8D) is a problem solving method for product and process improvement. Its purpose is to identify, correct, and eliminate recurring problems. The structured approach provides transparency, drives a team approach, and increases the chance of solving the problem. 8D follows the logic of the PDCA-cycle. The disciplines are:

D1: Use a Team

Gathering together a good and cross-functional team is a crucial part. Due to a varied composition of knowledge, skills and experience, a problem can be looked at from different angles.

D2: Define and Describe the Problem

Define the problem in measurable terminology: Who, What, When, Where, Why, How, How Much (5W2H analysis). This is a good addition to the problem analysis and can help you to get a clear description of the problem.

D3: Develop an Interim Containment Plan

This may be necessary to temporarily solve the obstacle. For example, to help a customer quickly and meet their expectations, or because a deadline has to be met. Finding the definitive solution in that case is of later concern. The point is that the problem getting worse is prevented, but it does have the goal of implementing the final solution later.

D4: Determine and Verify Root Causes

Before a definitive solution is found, it is important to identify underlying causes that may be at the root of the problem. Use the 5 Whys and cause and effects diagrams to map causes against the effect or problem identified.

D5: Verify Permanent Corrections (PCs)

As soon as the cause of the problem is known, the best solution can be found. From here, permanent corrections can be chosen and checked to solve the problem. It is also important to check whether the chosen solutions have any unwanted side effects. That is why it is necessary to also develop emergency measures that come in handy for unexpected events.

D6: Implement and Validate Corrective Actions

As soon as the definitive solution is clear, you can start with the implementation. By scheduling recurring audits, with a solution like Qooling for example, underlying problems can be eliminated prematurely. You also need to monitor long-term effects and take unforeseen events into account.

D7: Prevent Recurrence / System Problems

Prevention is better than cure. Therefore, additional measures must be taken to prevent you from making the same type of problems in the future. Often it is best to carefully review management systems, operation systems and procedures, and change them where necessary.

D8: Congratulate Your Team!

Recognize the collective efforts of the team. Formally thank team members for their involvement. Use approaches that appeal to each individual member, as not every employee is the same. This is therefore the most important step within the 8D method. Because without the team, the problem could probably not be found and solved. Make sure you celebrate achievements.

The 8D method is a great method to not only reduce product and processing concerns, but also to increase customer satisfaction. A practical workflow solution like Qooling can help you with this in many ways. Experience the many possibilities of Qooling and ask for a free demo.

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Root Cause Analysis: 5 Whys

After the elaborate piece on the Cause and Effect diagram we will take a deeper look in the 5 Whys as a root cause methodology.

The concept behind 5 why’s is that you keep on asking the question why did it happen until you reached to the underlying cause. Due to this setup the 5 Whys methodology is a very power tool for the root cause analysis because it forces people to really think about what went wrong.

Example

A wrong product has been delivered by a supplier.

1 Why. Why was a wrong product delivered?

The purchase department provided the wrong information.

2 Why. Why did the purchase department provided the wrong info?

The found this info on the server which they assumed was the latest version.

3 Why. Why wasn’t the latest version on the server?

Sales had been negotiating with the customer and forget to update.

The analysis shows that something went wrong in the process. Modifying the process can prevent this from happening in the future. A possible solution could be adding an addition step in which purchase just cross check with sales before they purchase the goods.

Also in this example it is clear we didn’t reached till the fifth why. This is not important sometimes the root cause is clear after 3 steps sometimes after 5. But for sure the root cause is clear after 5 steps.

Boundaries

When it comes to 5 Whys there are not so many boundaries. The strong characteristic about 5 Whys is that it allows you to find a root cause within purchase while the issue occurred at sales. This broad and inter process root cause analysis can very effective because of characteristic.

However, with the 5 Whys it is very easy to reach a level where it is easy to just blame a person or department. It is important to leave the personal aspects out of the equation and focus on the processes and organisation. Blaming somebody doesn’t help, always try to look at the organisation. So when a particular person is making the same mistake multiple times maybe we should give him or her training to improve his way of working. Or maybe the recruitment process is not how it should be. Just try to prevent blaming people.

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Insight in Cost of Quality: the hidden gem

Total Cost of Quality is a very important topic but not well known by a lot of C-level managers. When asked about the total Cost of Quality, a lot of C-level managers simply don’t know or give an industry standard. This reaction is understandable but very striking at the same time. In many industries the estimated costs of quality is in the range of 20%, which is some serious money when you are talking about tens of millions or even hundreds of millions.

Open your eyes

Automation can help companies to get a better feeling for their cost of quality. This starts by providing employees with the tools to record a quality issue. A number of companies claim to have very little issues, only because their issue form is around 6 pages. No one in their right mind is going to fill that up so a lot of issues are not even registered. Providing a mobile app with just 2 or 3 fields and an option to add images lowers the burden significantly to report an issue. This will lead to a bigger influx of issues, which is great.

Pick up the issue

Now that the burden of reporting an issue is out of the window, the real power of automation kicks in. The different stages the issue needs to follow can be predefined with pinpoint accuracy which means that the right person can add information precisely at the right time. A good automation solution allows the option to create a structured actions plan, and distributes the action to the designated owner. This connects the corrective actions to the issue on hand.

The automation allows for the hidden costs to get exposed, for example costs like waiting hours by the team or repair hours required to fix the issue. Multiplying these hours with the internal hourly rate, the company will be able to put a price tag to the lost hours. Furthermore, the solution can give an indication of the costs the administration has cost based on the hours worked on the issue.

Finalize

When all the information required for the incident has been provided, the report can be closed. This way of tracking Total Cost of Quality allows management to get a real-time insight in the actual costs. They can always have a clear overview of what all these issues cost the company. Just check the example.

analyse issues

Dashboard

In the end it is very important to get a grip on your total cost of quality and clearly see where the company is bleeding money in order to fix this. You can only take this step when everybody in the company is able to file an issue easily. Have fun increasing your efficiency.

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Root cause analysis: Cause and Effect

A proper root cause analysis can be the difference between making money and losing money. The analysis is designed to get into the detailed fundamental causes of the issue, without any bias. The cause and effect analysis will lead to significant insight in why things went wrong.

It is very easy to come up with a result that describes the person that made the mistake. However, it is important to always go deeper than the particular person. When a person messes up there is almost always a more fundamental problem to the issue. This could include things like:

  • Lack of training
  • Company culture
  • Hiring the wrong people

These things can lead to people messing up for all kind of reasons. However, the company can change these things to reduce the number of issues for example by changing the recruitment plan or sending people to training. In the next part we will describe the Cause and Effect methodology.

Cause and Effect

With a cause and effect diagram you start off with an effect or outcome you want to analyze. This effect may be positive or negative but has to be described as clear as possible. Then the main causes are identified. The main causes that might have lead to the effect could be the following 5M’s for a manufacturing plant:

  • Machine
  • Method
  • Material
  • Man / mind power / personnel
  • Measurement / medium

When the main causes of the issue are identified the next step is to identify as many causes that might have lead to the effect. Classify the causes according to the main causes and place these below them. This will lead to a result like this.

To go one level deeper you can ask why a certain cause happened. This will give more detailed insight into this cause. Create another layer of causes that are linked to this for example speed or temperature.

When the diagram is ready you can analyze the information. The main causes with a significant number of causes under them need some further investigation. Also, when a certain cause shows up multiple times this might be the root cause. Then look for clusters, when there are a couple of causes close to each other, then that is something that needs your attention. The same is true when there are very little causes, you might need to further investigate these and why there are so few. To really start improving, identify the causes you can take actions on and put these actions in the action list with clear owners of each action.

Next post we will dive deeper into the 5 Why’s.

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