Process Improvement Quality Tools & Techniques

- a summary of the process improvement quality tools that can be used to identify issues in development and manufacturing processes..

There is a host of tools and techniques that can be used in association with any process improvement initiative.

These process improvement quality tools and techniques are normally very simple to use, and often form part of a scheme to find root causes and gain ideas about how to address problems.

These tools are often used within groups to help find methods of understanding how a process works and then how to improve the process.

Quality / process improvements tools list

A list of some of the tools that are available to help with quality and process improvement is given below.

  • Benchmarking:   Benchmarking is a quality tool that involves measuring a process and then analysing its performance so that it can be compared to industry standard performance levels and also to compare with any changes made to see the effect of improvements.
  • Brainstorming:   Brainstorming is a methodology or quality tool used with a group to find a solution to a specific problem by gathering ideas spontaneously contributed by the group members. Ideas, regardless of their value are put up - a key issue is that all ideas are accepted and none are criticised (often the unusual ideas may form the basis of a solution as further ideas develop the original concept). Once the ideas have been gathered they can be grouped and analysed. Read more about Brainstorming.
  • Cause and effect diagram / fishbone:   The fishbone or cause and effect quality tool is a way of representing an issue that draws out the cause or causes of a problem. The tool helps focus on the details of the problem by providing a way to follow issues down to the possible details of the root cause. Read more about Cause & effect / fishbone diagram.
  • Flowcharts:   Flowcharts are an important quality tool for process improvement. They enable the process to be drawn out in a logical fashion so that they major stages within the process can be seen. They key with any process map or flowchart is to select the important stages and to be able to summarise the process accurately without over-complicating the diagram.
  • Pareto analysis chart:   A Pareto chart is a form of chart that contains both bars and a line graph, where individual values are represented in descending order by bars, and the cumulative total is represented by the line - in this way the leftmost bars are the highest and the ones that need addressing first. Typically the failures in a given process are plotted in the vertical axis, and the vertical bars are failures arising from a given cause. The line graph then gives the cumulative number of failures.
  • PDCA, PDSA cycle:   The Plan; Do; Check; Act cycle is a cycle that can be used in any process improvement initiative. Often it may also be referred to as Plan; Do; Study; Act, PDSA or the Deming wheel, or the Shewhart cycle as a result of people who worked on developing the concepts and ideas. Read more about PDCA / PDSA cycle.
  • Scatter diagram:   A scatter diagram is a form of diagram where the results of measurements made can be plotted to see the main areas where the results fall. The scatter of the results can be seen.

These include just a few of the widely used process improvement tools or quality tools that are available.

By Ian Poole

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