Re: TQM: Karen, tell more

Subject: Re: TQM: Karen, tell more
From: Karen Steele <karen -at- BILBO -dot- SUITE -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 5 Nov 1993 13:30:03 -0600

LaVonna Funkhouser wrote:

>Karen Steele wrote that she has been involved in
>successful, rewarding quality teams.

>I'd like to hear more.

My experiences were with a bank, a scientific experiment (the Superconducting
Collider), and a telecommunications firm. Unfortunately, none of these firms
had a writing
department in which to implement TQM. (I'm a contractor -- usually get hired
for a project,
not a department.) In the first two examples, I was hired to document the
process, and
then develop standards within a department, adhering to TQM.

The bank was the most interesting example, IMHO. It was the Credit
department. The bank had undergone a massive expansion and moved all the credit
processing to a central location. In two months they went from about 12 to
around 145
employees. Each new employee was trained by another, more experienced,
And everyone was doing each task by rules they made up as they went along. When
I did
the process analysis and documented the variety of procedures in place,
management hit
the roof. Nothing was consistent. Much of what they were doing didn't follow
legal guidelines. And the federal auditors were already in the building.

The manager got a TQM trainer in FAST. In two weeks, everyone was trained and
to work.

The challenge was to determine the customer's needs, the legal requirements,
and find
the most efficient way to meet those needs and requirements.

QAT's were formed. (Quality Assurance Teams). Each team had a number of tasks
which they were responsible. Every clerk on the floor was involved in at least
one QAT.
This promoted ownership of the "new" processes. Each team examined each task.

They put together a needs analysis (customer) -- the branch bank was the
They met with the branches and discussed what the branch needed from them in
order to
do a good job. The branch explained why they needed things that way. One
member of
the team was assigned to stay in touch with the branch and make sure the needs
continued to be met. One person from the branch was assigned to be sure that
all their
needs were documented and passed to the team.

The team then examined each task. Since most of them were involved with doing
tasks already, they had lots of suggestions for better ways to perform. Each
set of
procedures were then written up (me) & everyone on the floor was trained by the
person to do the same task, the same way. Quality assurance checks were
The branches were polled regularly.

The department cut their response time from an average of 6 hours to less than
minutes. Errors were reduced to almost nothing. The customer was convinced
that this
was a great way to do business. And the auditors flew through the department --
everything is documented audits are easy.

I think the fact that everyone was involved in the process, from the President
down to the
file clerks, and even me (contract labor), contributed to the success. Everyone
bought in,
and because everyone was involved, we all had a stake in making it work.

It was a great experience in process analysis, and practical problem solving. I
many of those lessons at every job I take.

K. Steele

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