Starting from scratch

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    Martin Ulrich

    I recently hired into a company that has basically no procedures for manufacturing or documented processes. They handwork most every part and are skilled craftmans. The VP has hired me on to develop a written process from Work Instructions to Control Plans, FMEA etc. This is going to be a monumental task.
    I have generated a very basic Process Flow of the 30 stations involved and found hundreds of variations to each station, ie  model of part, special instructions, different requirements. I have no staff and have noticed that managers in different departments are starting to use the excuse “I don’t have a process to go by” in defense for problems. I’m getting frustrated.
    Any input



    You’re trying to “eat th elephant” to do that you must take one bite at a time.
    Find the most potentially profitable line in the facility, or the one that welcomes your input.  Make that process as good as it can be.
    Start with a detailed process map defining the inputs and outputs of each step in the process.  Then calculate the current state RTY.
    With that baseline established go at it and be able to show the results of your efforts.  Success will breed more demand for your services.
    Good Luck, the opportunities abound.


    Mike Carnell

    I was in a similar situation in 1995. I was hired to get ISO certified in 8 months (incentive was a $40,000 bonus). No particular reason except the President read an article that a guy did it in 12 and he wanted to be faster (ex Olympic athlete – very competitive and very driven).
    We did the basic butcher paper flow chart on the wall with every process shown. Put a name by every operation of who knew it best. That person wrote an outline of the process (we had already written the procedure to write procedures). I got a contract technical writter who hammered them out into procedures. The same person wro outlined it reviewed it and either approved it or changed it. The people who used it read the final version and approved it (in writing) or they worked out the changes then signed it. Employment was contingent on getting a document in place and signed so if you wanted to just be obstinate it you got to do it somewhere else.
    Once the procedures were in place the rest was easy. You are just at the point where you are trying to overcome organizational inertia (a body at rest trying to stay at rest). We were certified in 7 months.
    You can do this. Think it through and get a plan in your head of how you want it done. Review it with the guy that hired you and explain how you need him to behave. If you are going into some difficult situation coach him ahead of time so he says the right things. Basically don ‘t ask him to say a lot just have him continually support you and tell them they need to follow your lead. Then lead.
    Good luck.


    Eoin Barry

    Mike, Great post!
    I’d like to emphasise a couple of the Mike made: 1. Make the individual process owners accountable for their procedures and challenge them either directly or indirectly (as the culture dictates) to understand their own processes. 2. Coach your VP.
    The skilled craftsman bit can be disheartening and you might have stiff cutural/ perception barriers to overcome. I know this from experience. Hang in there! Look to the training procedures (if there are any) for help and cross training as a means of overcoming inertia.
    Finally, for your project, develop a work break down structure, share it with your VP, get detailed with the responsibility and accountability for each step and get resourced.
    Best of luck! we’re rooting for you.



    An easy way to get your first success is to talk to the controlling function and ask him what/which process has the least performance and seek cooperation to improve . Any manager will suppoprt better performance fugures, as long as it does not take too much time.
    Looking at the other suggestions, you should have the process mapping ready by now. Add some ABC-calculation and you know where to start. Once your success is sustainable you will see that the process-owner will also be a good friend. The controller will want you to do more of those jobs and the VP has a lot to tell about.
    Do not forget to ask to show the improvement for a longer period in budget-reporting: adds to the sustainability of your succes.
    lots of succes,
    Another elefant eater.


    Barbara Bellehumeur

    About the Elephant,
    You can have your elephant and eat it too.
    I must voice to you how really great it is to read these insightful, knowledgeable,  motivating, and precise responses.
    And these are some of the words  I use everyday to describe Quality Assurance and Six Sigma when I speak with persons who want to know what our firm can do. 
    I have never known professionals more positive working in any other areas of industry. 
    To be such a small part of the curve must feel exceptional.
    You are the people who pull this country up by the boot straps.
    These processes and methodologies apply to every aspect of life do they not?
    In the past (distand and not so distant),  I have been on both sides .  As a machininst, operator, and QC Tech I recall the efforts by managers and QA professionals striving for cost effectiveness and process improvements.  There could be no sides, everyone at all levels were buying in. 
    Failure could not be an option.  Many corporations have made drastic turnarounds due to exactly what you are striving to acheive.  Some have not, but the successes  I have seen outweigh the failures. 
    By implementing  QS, ISO, and Six Sigma the desired outcome can only be a good one.
    The professionals that our firm place are predominately Six Sigma and QA.  I am proud to do so.  Knowing that I am part of all this is empowering.
    Strive for the excellance, take the losses and defects out of the equation, Move them out.  You will eventually have persons buying in to the projects and the end result will be what you and the corporation seek.
    Barbara Bellehumeur


    Jim Parker

    First, don’t get overwhelmed.  Look to see if there are benchmarking opportunities (i.e. sister company locations, competition, previous employment documentation, supplier assistance.)  You’ve started with a high-level process map, good.  I would suggest that you systematically drill-down (Y=f(x)) each operation to an actionable level so operators/process owners may assist you in affecting change.  No man is an island, get help from the resources on the shop floor.  DMAIC is not just for problem solving, it can help build your infrastructure.  Keep your head up!


    Andrew M. Brody

    You have my sympathies.  I have been where you are and made it out the other end.  We used QS 9000 as the benchmark quality standard in order to have a reference standard to compare all of our process documentation against.  We established a priority list to keep us from jumping from one project to another.  This will require working with your boss on a regular basis to verify that that the quality system you are building is going in the right direction.  It is essential that side issues don’t distract you from your objectives, they’ll still be there when your ready to deal with them.  Remember, you are only one person and you can’t possibly take care of every fire that pops up .  The company has functioned with these fires in the past, let them keep on doing what they have done in the past until your priority list reaches that problem area.  (NOTE:  When you establish your priority list, work closely with our boss so you and he are on the same track and you have his backing in case of conflict.)  Establish a reasonable and doable time table.  It will be probably longer than your boss would desire.  You’re going to have to be a good salesman here.  You have to have his buy in in this area or you’re going to have tremendous pressure that will make you a nervous wreck and your work efficiency and effectiveness will be minimized.  During my job interview, My potential boss said his time frame for QS registration was one year.  I let him know very subtly that this was not a reasonable expecttion.  I told him I would need two years with no staff to help.  He agreed, and after he hired me, we did the above and had weekly meetings to review my progress. 
    Note that the priority list and time table are living documents that need to be adjusted to fit reality.  Read September 2001’s issue of ASQ’s Quality Progress, p.73 titled “QS 9000 for One Small Paint Company”.  The principles are the same for a large company.  Feel free to call me at 502-584-0303 or e-mail me at [email protected].  Theres more I could include here, but I don’t have time to include everything I could offer you.  Good luck, and be sure to get buy in in all of your efforts from the people whose department you are affecting or you’ll face a wall of resentment and resistence that will make our job impossible.


    Gerardo Pacheco

    Perhaps could be a little disapointed, but don’t worry, my best advice could be, sit all the management and expose them the economical benefits that involve the implementation of a quality system.



    You could start with a more qualitative approach to get involvement up and quick hits out of the way. I am thinking of the GE Work Out specifically the Express type as discussed in the The GE Work Out by Ulrich, Kerr and Ashkenas.
    You could attack all areas of the company with Work-Outs and specifically identify 1 process to get in and use a more quantitative approach (Six Sigma). This way you can get everyone involved in making improvements, start some momentum, and still prove the concept of a Six Sigma approach by demonstrating results from your 1st pilot process.
    If you have resistors, the Work-Out is a great way to get them started.



    I had a a very similar situation several years ago.  I was hired as the QC Manager and to implement and pass ISO 9001 within one year.  I performed a GAP assessment and reported the results to top management.  (A consultant was hired also and my GAP assessment results and his assessment results were very similar). 
    I then started to see where all of the weaknesses were and interviewed EVERYONE in each department (Contracts, Purchasing, Manufacturing, Engineering, HR,etc).  The interview questions were based on the ISO requirements.  At the end of EACH day, I would tabulate and document the responses.  I actually did locate some documentations (Contracts, Purchase Orders, Drawings, Designs, Rejected Material tags, etc) but a lot more needed to be done. 
    I would hold weekly meeitngs with the staff for my updates and their action items.  I keep all of management updated and part of the implementation team.
    I would review each ISO requirement and type what was done and compared to the standard.  Any “Gaps” were discussed with management and a plan implemented to correct it. 
    The project was broken down into smaller manageble tasks.  I received A LOT OF ASSISTANCE from the manufacturing folks.  Once they found out that they were part of the team, the help was great.  Up to that time, there was NO documentation how to operate the machinery, check product, and package.  With each work instruction, the documentation WAS developed by the manufactuirng folks, and it was specific as to what to do!!  There was traceability by part number from contract, through design, prototypes, and finally to production and QC. 
    I did not use any “Canned” software packages; everything (documetation, procedures, work instructions, forms, etc) were all initailly designed, typed, and distributed by me. 
    And yes, we did pass the ISO 9001 assessment within one year of starting the project.  In fact, there were no audit findings either.  We presented our company’s president with a birthday present of ISO 9001 registration.
    Good luck with your project.  



    There are many resources on the web for generating quality programs.  Lambda has a template for implementing a Quality and Reliability control plan.  You can also use Juran’s handbook to find processes that might apply to your business. 



    I would suggest you keep putting policies and procedures together as you go.  Try to gather some metrics that show what the process approach is giving you.  At some point down the road present this to others and try to build your case for a Quality “Program”.  Maybe get a relatively inexpensive ISO 9000 gap analysis to help you put together a roadmap for future improvements.  If you can, simultaneously try to get Six Sigma started as the “methodology” will give you and others a formally recognized approach to problem solving/process improvement.
    Hope this helps.



    First of all , I feel that u r in a better position to make an impact in ur company . If ur company is in manufacturing and is still manufacturing , the question of ” process is not there”  complaint does not raise. Only thing u need to do is to make the managers aware of the fact that they already  are managing their process and they need to know more about their process to have a better control .
    The best thing u can do is to ask the managers themselves write their process and u be a learner . U will come across clitches , hills , ponds all along ur learning period and one day u will make ur managers feel that they are good and they too can manage their process well . So in short u be more of a  facilitator and less be an advisor or a superman

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