Process Improvement Services We Provide
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”
Quantum Associates works with small and medium size mid-market organizations who face the challenge of doing more with less. In other words, organizations looking to improve performance while using fewer resources. We offer lean management, lean manufacturing, lean six sigma, and kaizen events as cost effective process improvement solutions to small and medium sized mid-market companies looking to improve their productivity, efficiency and bottom line.
What is a Business Process?
A process is a set of interrelated work activities that are characterized by a set of specific inputs and value-added tasks that produce a set of specific outputs. A business process can be contained within a functional organization. Or it can span several functional organizations. (Examples of business processes include service provisioning, document production/distribution, customer complaint resolution, manufacturing of a product, and design and development).
The SIPOC model defines all processes. SIPOC stands for Supplier—Input—Process—Output—Customer. Every process has a supplier who provides input to the process which transform that input to an output and that output is delivered to a customer. The customer can be internal or external to the organization.
What is Process Improvement?
Consider these current realities:
- The medical profession and other industries that need to comply with ever-changing government regulations
- State and municipal government caught between skyrocketing costs for medical care and pensions and the taxpayer’s reluctance to pay for it.
- The university president, pressured by students, parents, alumni or the state legislature to reduce tuition and provide ever superior higher education in the face of increasing costs
- Hospital administrators struggling to keep their precious community health resources from closing due to government mandated reductions in medicare/medicaid payments
- A valued physician or lawyer or auto shop owner, who just decides to retire in the face of the struggle to survive
- Congress unable to chart a course of public policy between promises for a better life and the reality of trillion dollar debt
- Loss of our traditional manufacturing base to low cost competitors
- Big companies whose management must make job killing decisions to halt or outsource production in the face of low wage foreign competition
- The local school board trapped between loss of revenue and higher costs for everything and every person needed to educate the students
- The local restaurant, where the chef/owner must streamline operations to survive against a similar neighborhood competitor
All the above challenges and issues at the onset seem to be overwhelming, only if we knew how to make them better. There is a way to address these burdensome challenges. It is simple, improve our processes. Process improvement is an organized method to focus, measure and redesign critical organizational processes to accomplish game changing improvement. It matters not which tool set you use (Lean, Six Sigma, ISO 9000, Theory of Constraints, etc.) as long as your overriding goal is to improve the process.
The key take-away is to understand that process improvement can be applied to practically every act/task that anyone does. It also pertains to what people do jointly in teams, groups or organizations. It is not just limited to manufacturing but is applicable to administrative functions and the service sector.
Quantum Process Improvement (QPI)™
Move your company into the “Speed Zone” with our Quantum process improvement (QPI) model. QPI integrates the three most powerful process improvement disciplines – Lean, Six Sigma, and the Theory of Constraints to move your company into the area where sustainable, superior velocity happens creating enormous value for you and your stakeholders–because a “faster organization is a better organization.”
Leading your company into the “Speed Zone” requires improving the performance of your critical operations and administrative processes. We use our QPI Assessment to focus on the improvement opportunities offering the greatest potential for generating results within two to three quarters.
If the goal for your business is to create superior long-term profits – not average profit, not cyclically inflated profit, not short-term profit then contact us today to learn more about how our Quantum Process Improvement™Quantum Process Improvement model can work for you. We guarantee 100% customer satisfaction absolutely for all of our services.
Agile Lean Process Improvement
Agile Lean Process Improvement is a process improvement methodology using lean principles in an agile framework focusing on deploying the improvement and delivering maximum value quickly.
Combining the two disciplines results in:
- Improved collaboration between the process improvement team and the stakeholders. Agile iterations enable frequent interactions between the process improvement team and the customers of the process.
- Increased focus on deployment of the process improvements.
- The improvement team gain a better understanding of agile and lean principles which can be used to support other teams in your organization.
The improved collaboration, focus on deployment and adding value leads to a bigger impact in your organization and increased organizational performance and business results.
Want to learn more Agile Lean Process Improvement? Call us 847-919-6127 or complete our contact form.
Process Analytics Service
If you are like most manufacturers you have already made the obvious changes to streamline your operations, using traditional methods to scrape out as much productivity out of your supply chains and plants as possible. To do even more with less, you must look for new ways to boost the productivity and profitability of your operations.
There is one significant asset that you may not have not optimized: your own data. Most manufacturing operations generate enormous amounts of data, but many have failed to use this mountain of potential intelligence. In today’s world of cheap computational power manufacturers can put that data to work to uncover new ways to optimize their processes.
Service providers like healthcare, banking, government, retail and even the service infrastructure in manufacturing organizations (marketing, sales, accounting, HR, engineering, R&D, and so on) can also make use of process analytics to do more with less. Many service providers and departments have been historically deficient in using data—in fact needed data may not exist. This should not be an obstacle to success.
Learning how to analyze processes to capture the key inputs and outputs and the important data associated with these inputs and outputs can open up new opportunities to increasing productivity and profitability.
Our Approach to Process Analytics
We document your process and determine the Key Output Variables (KOVs). Then we brainstorm with your process team to determine the Key Input Variables (KIVs) that have the greatest impact on the KOVs. We prioritize the KIVs relative to impact on KOV, feasibility, and cost. After prioritizing the KIVs we help you collect performance data for each KIV and conduct root cause analysis for the underperforming KIVs. We then help you decide on and implement corrective action to increase the performance of the KIV.
Six Sigma is a quality process improvement initiative designed to drive defects from processes. The goal is to achieve near perfection through continuous quality improvement that aligns the voice of the process with the voice of the customer. DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) is the basic continuous improvement methodology for Six Sigma.
A Lean Enterprise is a totally integrated business process focusing primarily on eliminating waste in all processes and providing value to the downstream customer. Lean brings about radical change and provides a system of continuous process improvement and immediate impact to the bottom line.
The benefits of the process of Lean transformation include improved productivity by 25% to 50%, reduced space by 50%, improved product quality and reliability, reduced lead times, improved on-time shipments, reduced unscheduled downtime, and improved cash flow.
What is Lean Manufacturing?
Lean manufacturing is best described as the relentless pursuit of perfection. The power of lean lies in its ability to reduce costs in all areas not just manufacturing. This is achieved not through traditional cost reduction efforts but by challenging every activity to determine if it adds value in the eyes of the customer. Simple in concept, but with powerful implications. Activities and business processes, we take for granted become contenders for elimination.
By eliminating non-value-added activities your organization can make huge improvements in the time it takes to deliver products or services to your customers. Many companies have slashed lead times for customized products from months to a matter of hours.
While Lean began as a manufacturing initiative, more and more organizations are seeing the benefits in the office and service segments. The same principles apply by examining every activity to ensure it adds value to the customer, companies can cut costs, improve quality and reduce lead time.
Lean Office Simulation
The Lean Office Simulation (LOS) is a training workshop that introduces office/administrative staff to lean principles/tools from a service perspective. This 1/2 day workshop is conducted on your site and requires a minimum of seven people from your staff to improve the quotation process for a fictitious company experiencing growing pains and heighten competition. Their customers are demanding shorter lead times in filling their orders. The company’s traditional methods of handling quotes is not working and management decides to adopt some lean principles to speed up their quotation process. Your staff will experience the benefits of employing lean to reduce the cycle time of a transactional process. Contact us for more information on this workshop.
What is Kaizen? The japanese word Kaizen means change (KAI) to become good (ZEN). Kaizen means improvement. Improvements without spending much money, involving everyone from managers to employees, and using a lot of common sense. Kaizen is continuous improvement and the focus is on eliminating waste. Kaizen events can address low hanging fruit (“just do its”), short-term ( 3 months or less) or long-term (6 months). One form of kaizen event that yields quick results is the rapid improvement event or Kaizen Blitz.
Rapid Improvement Event (Kaizen Blitz)
This approach engages a cross-functional team of committed individuals in the implementation of real improvements that will affect significant change quickly. Emphasis is placed on strategic tactical employment of lean tools that increase efficiency and reduce waste almost immediately. Typically, this approach will require the full time efforts of 6 – 10 people for five days to achieve full implementation in a single area or process. It is one of the more costly programs with regard to committed staff resources, but typically results in some of the biggest improvements and greatest team buy-in. If you have the ability to commit 6 – 10 people to this process for a week it is among the most powerful approaches to implementing Lean.
The Theory of Constraints (TOC) is a continuous improvement initiative geared toward identifying bottlenecks or other constraints in your processes and exploiting them to the greatest extent possible. Identifying and alleviating the constraints allows you to reduce cycle time and improve the efficiency of your processes. Drum, Buffer, Rope is the basic continuous improvement methodology used in TOC.
Lean, Six Sigma, and The Theory of Constraints can be used in an integrated approach to provide robust results and move you closer to the “perfect” value stream much faster than using only one approach at a time. To achieve high performance process improvement we employ a targeted blend of tools and techniques from all three disciplines.
Global pressures and increasing customer demands require businesses to operate at increasing levels of efficiency. In order to compete on a global basis, companies in all industries (manufacturing and service) must focus on lowering costs by identifying and eliminating waste, increasing throughput, improving lead times, improving quality and efficiency, and maximizing the customer experience.
We work with your employee teams to show them how to use the appropriate process improvement tools (Lean, Six Sigma. Theory of Constraints, Iso 9001, etc.) and encourage your teams to communicate with one another about needs, barriers, and results within working projects. All of our training events are highly interactive and conducted on the client’s site.
ISO 9001 Implementation
In supplying products or services there are three fundamental parameters that determine their salability. They are price, quality and delivery. Customers require products or services of a given quality to be delivered or be available by a given time and to be of a price that reflects value for the money.
While price is a function of cost, profit margin, and market forces, and delivery is a function of the organization’s efficiency and effectiveness., quality is determined by the extent to which a product or service successfully serves the purpose of the customer. Price and delivery are both fleeting features, whereas the impact of quality is sustained long after the attraction or the pain of price and delivery has subsided.
Quality in ISO 9001 is defined as the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfills customer requirements. The implication is that quality is relative to what something should be and what it is. This could be a product, service, document, piece of information or any output from a process.
Good quality is an outcome of your processes that is why we focus on improving your processes before documenting your quality system.
What is ISO 9001?
ISO 9001 is an international quality management system (QMS) standard. It offers fundamental management and quality assurance practices that can be applied to service and manufacturing organizations. The requirement offers a powerful foundation of planning, control, and improvement for just about any organization. Without a QMS, organizations may have little chance of sustaining any improvements or innovations they might attain.
Because ISO 9001 is generic it is also quite flexible. In very few places does the standard specify exactly what your organization must do. In most cases, the standard allows a great deal of discretion to your organization in terms of how to design your processes and procedures. This enables you to customize your approach to ISO 9001 compliance.
The standard’s structure has changed and now encapsulates 10 general divisions: scope, normative references, terms and definitions, support, performance evaluation, performance improvement, context of the organization, leadership, planning, and operation.
One of the key notions encompassed in the developing language of ISO 9001:2015 involves a more explicit definition of the “process approach.” An organization’s QMS must be built around processes where products or services are the output. The primary objective, and in fact the overarching reason for these processes, is to meet customer requirements. The process approach as described in the 2008 version of ISO 9001 left many organizations confused about this requirement. The 2015 version provides clarity and better guidance.
Some of the key points of the standard are as follows:
- Risk management has been added with a focus on risk-based thinking. Identification of risk and risk control is now a requirement.
- Standardized core text, structure and definitions.
- There is a major focus on organizations creating value for their customers.
- The 2015 revision has more applicability to service organizations.
- Primary focus still remains on customers.
The ISO 2015 Transition deadline is fast approaching and all ISO 9001 certificates must transition to the new standard by September 14, 2018. After that date, all 9001:2008 certificates will no longer be valid, and this may affect your ability to supply to all markets.
- Cost of Poor Quality Analysis
- Business Process Mapping and Analysis
- Leadership Training
What is Process Mapping?
Process mapping is a way to analyze a business process. It is a powerful tool that provides you with the opportunity to get a good understanding of your processes, effectively find ways for your processes to be more successful, and ensure true value is being provided to internal or external customers.
Process maps are a visual representation of the steps and flows of a work process. Such pictures make understanding and communication about the process much easier. Process maps can fall into many categories but two of the most common are basic flowcharts and cross-functional flowcharts.
A basic flowchart is a simple map describing the activities performed in a process. It shows the relationship between activities in an individual process. Like all other process maps it is a graphic representation of a process. Cross-functional flowcharts additionally tell you which functional department the activities belong to and are often labeled “swim lane flowcharts,” as they can be imagined as swim lanes in a swimming pool.
Value stream mapping is akin to process mapping in that it is an illustration that uses simple graphics or icons to show the sequence and movement of information, materials, and actions in a company value stream. Some of the benefits of value stream maps are:
- Highlights the connections among activities and information and material flow that impacts the lead time of your value stream
- Helps employees understand your company’s entire value stream rather than just a single function of it
- Improves the decision-making process of all work teams by helping team members to understand and accept your company’s current practices and future plans
- Creates a common language and understanding among your employees through the use of standard value stream mapping symbols
- Allows you to separate value added activities from non-valued-added activities and then measure their lead time
- Provides a way for your employees to easily identify and eliminate areas of waste
Our process improvement approach ensures success by providing the exact lean manufacturing, lean six sigma and kaizen tools to help companies and people do more with less.
Can’t find what you are looking for? Just pick up the phone and give us a call at 847-919-6127. Or simply send us an electronic request by clicking here.
Our Community Giving Pledge – 5% Giveback
We will donate, on your behalf, 5% of the project engagement fees to the charity of your choice.