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Pencil that has an eraser on both ends

Category : Facts , Funny , Quality Management

In an effort to get registered, an organisation had written, rewritten and written again many of it’s manuals, procedures, process descriptions and control documentation causing one of the staff to ask “what’s the difference between a regular pencil and an ISO 9001 certified pencil? ”

Answer: The ISO 9001 pencil has an eraser on both ends.

We certainly hope you don’t have this much difficulty meeting the requirements of the standard, and also recognize that the standard applies to organizations, not to products.

 

Source: www.simplyquality.org


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Risk Management – Risk Control

Risk Control

Once the risks are identified and prioritized, it becomes very clear which risks the project should handle in the order of priority.

Risk Control activities consist of the following activities-

  • Risk management planning and
  • Risk monitoring and tracking

Risk management planning consists of identifying strategies needed to minimize the risk consequences.

Risk monitoring and tracking consists of periodic review of risks and revision to the Risk Analysis and Management Plan (RAMP), if needed.

Risk management planning

For each risk, based on the risk priority, Project Manager identifies Mitigation strategy and Risk handling strategy.

Mitigation strategy identifies the actions to be taken before the risk occurs to minimize risk consequences. Mitigation Strategy would always be driven by Decision Analysis and Resolution process.

Risk handling strategy identifies the actions to be taken after the risk occurs, in spite of implementing the mitigation strategies.

Some of the potential risks being faced by the and possible risk mitigation plans and risk handling plans are given in the Table given below:

 

Risk

Risk Mitigation Plan 

Risk Handling Plan

Ambiguity/ Change in the requirements

Negotiate with the customer and document at the contract time itself how such situations will be handled.

Ask the customer to raise a change request, and negotiate the schedule and delivery dates.

Incorrect estimates

Ensure that no assumptions are made while estimating.

Re-estimate using the additional information available and re-plan.

Unavailability of required skills

Inform the customer. If possible, negotiate to get the team trained before the initiation of the project. Negotiate with the customer on schedule. If possible, obtain resources from the customer for consultancy and reviews.
Low skill level of team members Screening before allocation to the project to ensure presence of sufficient skills in the team. Plan training on weak areas to raise the skill level of the team. Assign repetitive tasks to improve the performance of the team members.
Manpower attrition Have backup team members ready for all the crucial activities in the project. In case of rare skills have the backup trained. Maintain good technical documentation to help in faster induction of new people into the team.

In cases where a single alternative is not available for backup, try to granulate the tasks being performed by a crucial team member and get a group of team members acquainted with the sub-tasks.

 

Delay in Customer feedback Negotiate before hand on the response time from the customer Communicate to the customer and add the delay to the schedule
Technical complexity in the project

Have adequate buffers in estimation for handling complexity and/or drop certain requirements in consultation with customer to reduce the complexity

 

Obtain support from experts in handling technical complexity

Use of new technology

Train the team on new technology. Include buffers for use of new technology.

Obtain support from Experts/Customer on the technology-based issues.

Tight schedule

Negotiate with the customer on schedule. Explore the possibility of increasing the manpower. (This may not always be possible and also works only when the tasks are fairly independent)

 

Negotiate with the customer on dropping some of the functionality / requirements to meet the schedule. Monitor the critical path closely.

 

Lack of process compliance

Identify the cause of non-compliance and train the team if necessary

Re-plan the reviews to improve the compliance

 

Risk monitoring and Tracking

The key to risk action planning is to consider the further consequences of a decision made. The RAMP is to be maintained as a part of the project plan and needs to be re-visited whenever changes occur in the project plan.

Contingency Planning can be used to monitor the risk and handle it when it occurs. The following sections gives guidelines in monitoring the risks.

The Project shall be continuously monitored for the risks that are identified and also for the occurrence of new risks. The identified risks and the mitigation plan are to be discussed in the Project review meetings/Project progress meetings. If required, transparency may be maintained with the customer so as to obtain support from the customer in monitoring the project for possible risks.

 

Whenever the project plan is modified, the risks shall be re-assessed and the RAMP shall be revised, if required. Whenever, risks occur in the project, the project plan and/or the project schedule shall be revised if necessary. Similarly, when new risks are identified during project execution, the RAMP shall be revised

Depending on the consequential impact or degree of customer dissatisfaction due to a risk, it probably needs to be brought to the notice of senior management. One may also decide to share some of the risks with the customer, to bring in transparency, especially where customer could decide to contribute in mitigating the risk.

Situations may arise in the project execution, when the occurrences of risks become inevitable. The project team needs to be prepared to handle such risks as and when they happen. If essential, the team may be trained to face the risks to have a minimal impact on the execution of the project and the quality of the work products in the course of events.

 


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Risk Management – Risk Assessment

Risk Assessment

Risk Assessment consists of two components –

  • Risk identification and
  • Risk analysis & prioritization

Risk identification focuses on enumerating possible risks to the project. The basic activity is to try to envision all situations that might go wrong in the project execution.

Risk analysis and prioritization activity considers all aspects (need to specify the aspects) of the risks and prioritizes them for purpose of risk management.

Although these two are distinct activities, they are often carried out simultaneously. All the relevant stakeholders need to be involved during the Risk identification and analysis process.

Risk identification

At the time of project initiation, Project Manager identifies the project risks. Risk identification is an exercise in envisioning what can go wrong.  Risks are identified under different categories.

The categories of risks are:

  • Business risk
  • Technology risk
  • Process risks
  • Resource risks
  • Customer risks
  • Schedule risk
  • Others

These risks are identified along with the category to which that belongs.

Some examples of risks under different categories are –

Category of risk Classification of Risks
Business risk
  •  Competitor may introduce the product early
  • Loss of market opportunities if project is delayed
Technology risk
  • Technology is new and not proven
  • Project is complex
Process risks
  • Process needs to be defined for the project
  • Lack of process compliance
Resource risks
  • Required skills not available
  • Manpower attrition
Customer risks
  • Delay in customer feedback
  • Changes to requirements
Others
  • Tight schedules
  • Estimates are not scientific

Project Manager identifies the category of risk and the risk

Risk Analysis and Prioritization

The risks identified for the project indicate the possible events that can hinder the project in meeting its goals. The consequences of different risks may be different. While identifying strategies for risk management, it is beneficial to analyze and priorities the risks, so that appropriate strategies can be identified and management energies can be focused on high priority risks.

Risk analysis consists of –

  • Assessment of the probability of occurrence the risk and
  • Level of consequences of the risk.

For each risk identify the probability of risk occurrence as – Low, Medium and High. Risks are prioritized based on the Decision Analysis and Resolution (DAR) identified.

For each risk identify the level of consequence of the risk as – Low, Medium, High and Very High.

Based on the combination of probability of occurrence and level of consequence the risk priority (in terms of impact on the project) is determined. An example for identification of the risk priority is given below

Risk priority (impact on the project) is this table, which is going to be part of our PMP. If so, this should be an annexure.

 

Probability of occurrence of risk

Level of consequences

Low Medium High Very high 

Low 

Negligible Negligible Marginal Critical

Medium

Negligible Marginal Critical Catastrophic
High Marginal Critical Catastrophic Catastrophic

 

The risk priorities are only indicative. Based on the project specific risks, the Project Manager needs to identify the risk priority and assign impact values as per the guidance given below.

  • Catastrophic (Value: 1)
  • Critical (Value: 2)
  • Marginal       (Value: 3)
  • Negligible       (Value: 4) 

 

The Project manager provides impact values in the Risk Analysis and Management Plan for each risk.

 

Risk occurrence thresholds are defined to decide majorly based on the below mentioned factors.

    • Risk avoidance
    • Risk control
    • Risk transfer
    • Risk monitor
    • Risk acceptance

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Use of regression analysis

What is Regression?

The statistical process with the help of which we are in position to predict (or estimate) the values of one variable-called “Dependent Variable” from known values of another variable(s) – called “Independent Variable(s)” is known as Regression.

For example, if we know that the effort and size in a software project are correlated, we may find out the expected amount of effort for a given size of project.

When there is more than one independent variable, its called “Multiple Regression”.

 

What is Regression analysis?

Regression Analysis is a method of finding the line of best fit for a set of data.

It is a mathematical procedure that produces two results.

First it produces an equation to match the data gathered. There are different types of analysis (linear, quadratic, cubic, exponential, etc.). So one may want to check them to see which one matches the collected data most closely.

Second, regression analysis (or multiple regression analysis, if more than one independent variables are involved) may produce numbers to indicate how closely the new formula fits the data.

For example, the dependent variable might be overall satisfaction and the independent variables be price, quality, value for money, delivery time and staff knowledge.

The multiple regression analysis would then identify the relationship between the dependent variable and the independent variables – this is presented as an equation or model (formula) that might look like this:

Overall satisfaction = 1.37 * price rating + 0.91 * quality rating + 0.64 * delivery time rating + 2.42 (a constant)

 

Approach to Regression Analysis

The standard approach in regression analysis is:

Gather/take data –  Past data for given independent variable(s) and corresponding dependent variable is collected.

Determine the form of equation to fit – We plot the dependent and independent data sets (in case of multiple independent variables, take one variable at a time) on a special graph called a scatter plot which shows the existence (or otherwise) of statistical relationships between variables. Examine the pattern being formed by these sets.

Fit an equation – Depending on the number of independent variables, a simple (Y=a + bX) or multiple regression equation (Y = a + b1*X1 + b2*X2 + … + bp*Xp) is selected.

Evaluate the fit using statistics – such as Coefficient of Determination (R), Standard Error of Estimate (SE), etc.

The first number is the correlation coefficient, r. This is the linear correlation coefficient, for use in indicating how closely the data fits a straight line. The closer r is to 1 (for a positive correlation) or -1 (for a negative correlation) the better the fit. A value of 0 indicates no fit at all.

Second is R (r2), the coefficient of determination, which indicates how closely the curve fits the data. It’s values range from 0 to 1, with 1 being a perfect fit.

Standard error of estimate is a measure developed to measure the reliability and accuracy of the regression equation to predict the value of dependent variable for a given value(s) of independent variable(s). It measures the variability of the observed values of dependent variable (Y) around the regression line.

Use the equation to predict the value of dependent variable for given value(s) of independent variable(s).


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Is this a “reliable” light bulb?

A light bulb that lasts at least 10 years? Big deal. How about one that’s been burning since 1901!

 

Intersource Technologies of Sunnyvale created a news splash when it unveiled its new E-lamp during a meeting of the Edison Electric Institute, an association of utility companies. Intersource said the bulb lasts between 10 to 14 years.The people at the Livermore Fire Department’s Station One were not all that impressed. After all, a little bulb that’s been burning not-quite-brightly since the turn of the century put the fire house in the record books.

 

The glow of its reputation attracts tourists from around the world.

 

“We keep a visitor’s book for them to sign,” said Helen Vien, a fire department clerk. “A good many of them stop by just to look at the bulb, which is real dim and hangs high up and out of the way on an old-fashioned cord.”

 

The Guinness Book of Records and Ripley’s Believe It or Not both list it as the oldest and longest burning light bulb in the world.

 

With the exceptions of power failures and three times for moving it to another station, the bulb has been on since it was donated to the fire department in 1901 by Dennis Bernal, owner of the Livermore Power and Water Company.

 

The incandescent bulb was invented by Thomas Edison in 1879.
General Electric Co. determined that the bulb was manufactured by the Shelby Electric Company and was hand blown with a carbide filament.

 

G.E. says there is no great mystery to the bulb’s longevity. The lower the wattage, the longer the filaments last. The bulb puts out about as much light as the coils inside a toaster.
Barbara Fairhurst, spokeswoman for Intersouce Technologies, said she’s familiar with the bulb. “I think it’s fascinating,” she said.

 

She agreed with GE’s assessment and pointed out that the carbide filament also helps.

 

The real secret, she says, is that the light is always on. “Turning a bulb off and on is what wears it down.”

 

Source: www.deseretnews.com


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A Disciplined Approach To Value Stream Mapping

Value stream mapping is a very powerful tool. Used properly it will change your whole company for the better. It is not hard to use, but it does require good training and a disciplined approach.

Structure Works


Many companies today are using value stream mapping as their premier tool to develop a future state implementation plan. However, some common ‘process’ problems that hinder or even stop progress in companies around the world. Here are some of them:


  1. Not taking the time to properly define product families.  If this is not done properly, then there are often false starts and confusion as people try to “become the product” to do value stream mapping. “Which product do we follow?” “What inventory do we count?”

  2. Not collecting the right data on the current state map.  Customer, supplier, inventory, and process data are the building blocks for your future state plan. Without good, detailed information you cannot hope to really ‘see’ how to improve flow. Sweating a few details gives you the information needed to improve.

  3. Ignoring the information flow.  Many maps that we see look more like block diagrams than value stream maps. Remember that a value stream map shows both information and material flows. An experienced mapper can plainly see how the information flow is actually creating waste in the material flows.

  4. Forgetting about the timeline at the bottom of the map.  Remember that one of the major goals is to reduce lead times. When you do this, the amount of chaos and costs on your work floor also go down in proportion. You need this timeline as a baseline, and also to help prioritize improvements.

  5. Companies draw a current state map, but stop there and don’t create a future state map.  They miss the whole point. If the complete approach is followed with discipline, it leads directly to a comprehensive implementation plan. Drawing a current state map (only) is of no value on its own.

  6. Designing an ideal state (only).  Often companies create a future state map that represents a picture of where they would like to be ideally, in the long term. Then they have real difficulties because they find it impossible to attain this ideal state in one fell swoop. Too much to bite off at one time. It’s necessary to have this long term vision in the form of an ideal state map, but you also need shorter term future states that represent attainable goals in the near term – say 6 months to one year. This moves you ahead in manageable ‘bite-sized’ pieces.

  7. Teams develop a future state map, but then don’t translate the future state map into a project plan and provide the focus to actually implement the plan.   A value stream plan has to be managed like a project, with visible progress, and regular reviews. Otherwise the ‘power’ of this approach is lost. Implementation is where the ball is most often dropped.

  8. Failure to put someone in charge.  The best results we have seen are where there is a defined value stream manager that brings a focus to the achievement of the plan. Leaving the plan to a team or grouping of departments will ensure very slow progress.

  9. Thinking that when the plan is implemented that you can stop there.  There is always more waste – so start on the next iteration of the future state map. You can never ‘check off’ lean as completed.

 


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Principles of 5S

Category : Quality Management

What is 5S?


“5S” is a technique adapted from the Japanese for creating and maintaining a clean, well-ordered work area. The basic idea is very simple and its aims are to have in the work place only those things that are needed and to keep these neat, orderly and readily accessible. The work place can be anywhere that people work which includes the shopfloor, offices and meeting rooms.


What deos 5S involve?


There are five stages to 5S,


1. Seiri – to simplify the work area. Remove unnecessary items
2. Seiton – to straighten and organise work tools and other items
3. Seiso – to sweep clean
4. Seiketsu – to stabilise and maintain the new standards
5. Shitsuke. – to sustain and create a 5S culture


Benefits of 5S?


5S results in a simpler, cleaner and better organised work place. The benefits from this are a safer working environment as there are fewer hazards and safety equipment is easy to locate. The work flows at a quicker and smoother rate, as only items needed to process parts are available and ready for use. Quality is improved, as it is easier to detect mechanical problems and faults on equipment and see problems on parts. 5S creates a better place to work and also to impress our customers on our commitment to a high quality product.


How do we carry out 5S?


1

Remove all unneeded items from the work area. This should include components, machines, supplies, tooling etc. Dispose of any rubbish. (known as red tagging)

1S

2

Organise equipment, tooling, supplies, cleaning equipment, etc. Use shadow boards and label all items. Aim to store items off the floor.

2S

3

Identify areas with labels, taping and paint.

2S

4

Organise notice boards. Aim for a central spot, remove unnecessary and out of date notices.

2S

5

Ensure that lighting in inspection and work areas is acceptable.

2S

6

Clean work area and equipment.

3S

7

Assign 5S tasks

4S

8

Set up TPM programmes and assign tasks. This should include tooling.

4S

9

Set up monthly internal 5S audit plan. Don’t forget to revisit the other 5S stages periodically to keep at a 5S level.

5S


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Knowledge Management Framework

Category : Quality Management

KMM_Image

  • Reuse effective techniques: Identifying and documenting successful strategies, techniques, shortcuts, and checklists can help future project teams build on a history of positive results.
  • Establish estimation model : By having reliable data as a foundation, a budget spreadsheet with estimated values based on past projects can help kick-start the next project.
  • Develop better resource estimates based on past experience: There is no better support for the rationale of the project resource plan than data about the resource use of similar past projects.
  • Educate project managers and team members: The history of past projects is a great resource for teaching people how to manage projects and work in a project environment.
  • Learn from past mistakes: Sweeping mistakes under the rug is a costly mistake. Acknowledging mistakes, analyzing their causes, and identifying ways to prevent them in the future is a far more beneficial approach.

 


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Time-Cost-Quality Model

Build it fast and good. Build it fast and cheap. Build it good and cheap.

 

  • Time – Refers to the actual time required to complete a project and in production.
  • Cost – Refers to the amount of money that will be required to complete the project.
  • Quality – Refers to the functional elements that, when completed, make up the end deliverable for the project.
Achieving the right balance of quality, time and cost for your project is key to the success of your project.
TCQ_Image

 

  • Time + Cost = a project done quickly and cheaply … but the Quality may suffer
  • Quality + Time = an outstanding project delivered quickly … but it will Cost more
  • Cost + Quality = great work at a reasonable cost … but leave plenty of Time to complete it
Taguchi’s Philosophy
  • We cannot reduce cost without affecting quality
  • We can improve quality without increasing cost
  • We can reduce cost by improving quality
  • We can reduce cost by reducing variations. When we do so, performance and quality will automatically improve.

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Common Reasons for Project Failure

Category : Facts , Quality Management

Most organisations have experienced projects that did not end on time, were over budget, or changed in scope over time. There are many pitfalls that can sink projects. In this blog i have collated the reasons from couple of sites as mentioned in the source.

  • Poor planning and/or inadequate process – planning is central to the success of a project. It is important to define what constitutes project success or failure at the earliest stage of the process. It is also essential to drill down the big picture to smaller tasks.
  • Inefficient way to document and track progress – this is an oversight on the part of the project manager. Tracking milestones is a crucial way to see if expectations are being met. Documentation and tracking also lets the manager identify which areas require more resources to be completed on time.
  • Poor leadership at any level – the “leader” is usually identified as the project manager. However, the management-level executive also has a responsibility of ensuring the project’s success. He/she should work together with the manager to ensure that the company’s exact requirements are understood.
  • Failure to set expectations and manage them – in working in a team setting, it is critical that you’re able to manage people. If and when expectations are not met, there should be clearly-defined consequences. The task should then be prioritized and possibly reassigned to a more competent individual.
  • Inadequately-trained project managers – the project manager is taking on a heavy responsibility. It is important to assign management roles only to individuals who have the capabilities to meet requirements. In some cases, poorly-trained managers are assigned to complex projects; this is a recipe for failure.
  • Inaccurate cost estimation – there are instances when the cost of an undertaking is grossly underestimated. When it runs out of resources, the project cannot be completed. This can be mitigated when the lack of resources is identified early by the project manager.
  • Lack of communication at any level – communication between the management executive and the project manager, and between the latter and the team members are always important. Everyone should feel free to come forward to state their concern or give suggestions.
  • Culture or ethical misalignment – the culture of the company must prize competence, pro-activeness, and professionalism. If it doesn’t, the team members may not have the motivation to do their best. In essence, everyone involved must be concerned about the success of their undertaking.
  • Competing priorities – when a company’s resources are stretched, there will be competing priorities in terms of manpower and financing. Having good cost estimation at the start will eliminate this problem.
  • Disregard of project warning signs – when a project is on the verge of failing, there will always be warning signs. Taking action immediately can save the project. Otherwise, the whole endeavor can just go down the drain.

 

The number of reasons can be infinite, however, if we apply the 80/20 rule the most common reasons for failure can be found in the following list:

Poorly managed Undefined objectives and goals Lack of management commitment
Lack of a solid project plan Lack of user input Lack of organisational support
Centralised proactive management initiatives to combat project risk Enterprise management of budget resources Provides universal templates and documentation
Poorly defined roles and responsibilities Inadequate or vague requirements Stakeholder conflict
Team weaknesses Unrealistic timeframes and tasks Competing priorities
Poor communication Insufficient resources (funding and personnel) Business politics
Overruns of schedule and cost Estimates for cost and schedule are erroneous Lack of prioritisation and project portfolio management
Scope creep No change control process Meeting end user expectations
Ignoring project warning signs Inadequate testing processes Bad decisions

 

Source: www.projectsmart.co.uk, www.project-management.com