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  • support 4:17 am on December 20, 2010 Permalink | Reply
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    TL 9000 Project Planning (4): Managing The Project 

    In past articles, we have discussed project planning techniques including “backward planning”, managing key milestones, intervals and contingency or risk planning. In this article we will discuss managing the plan so that you give yourself the best chance to succeed.

    The project has certain outcomes that include a successful registration audit and on time delivery to a planned date.  In order to meet these objectives, it will be necessary to have a systematic method to review and revise the plan.  In order to make the plan work and hold people accountable, at a minimum you will need to identify in the plan:

    •    The process owner for each phase or activity
    •    The due date for completion of each phase or activity
    •    Deliverables that constitute a complete phase or activity
    •    A status of the phase or activity

    There may be other information that you want to track during the plan such as actual completion date, revised planned completion date and comments.  You’ll need a tool to record the plan.  There are many tools available ranging from a yellow legal pad to sophisticated project management software and you need to select what works for you.  For the most part, I use Microsoft Excel because nearly everyone has the tool or can open a software version of it and most people can find their way around this tool.  I used project management software years ago, but found that I had to copy it into Microsoft Word or something else, just to send it to people.  Almost nobody had the tool or knew how to use it effectively.

    An Excel-based project plan can also give you a quick status of the project if you will set up a column with a pull down that includes Red, Yellow, Green and Closed.  I use Red to mean the completion date has passed, Yellow to mean that the completion date is within a week away and is not complete and Green to mean that the activity can still be completed on time.  These, plus the “Closed” category can be sorted and summarized to give you a quick status dashboard.  You can also calculate the total plan interval and compare each status period to the amount of interval that has elapsed versus the number of completed tasks.

    If the percentage of the project interval and the percentage of completed actions are somewhat close, then the project is in pretty good shape unless there are actions that specifically cannot be closed, which will be revealed by the Red, Green, Yellow status.  If the project interval is 70% expended and you have only completed 10% of the actions, then you are in big trouble.  These metrics comprise an effective, high-level status of the project at any given time.

    Once you have the project plan recorded, it is usually a good idea to meet either in person or via conference call to status the plan and determine actions that may be needed to keep the plan on track.  This is where you need to be strong as the manager of the project and hold people accountable for their assignments.  Two big risks to completing the project on time can be a lack of strength on the part of the PM and/or the process owners not being open and honest about problems in meeting the plan and their resulting solutions.

    We hope you found this 4-part series on project planning helpful.  If you require further assistance, please contact bclancy@bizphyx.com.

    The support desk will be closed for the holidays and we will begin a new series on January 17, 2011.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from BIZPHYX!

  • support 1:06 am on October 18, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Clause 7.3.1.C.4 of the Release 5.0 of the TL 9000, Design and Development, Service Delivery, TL 9000 7.1.V .1, TL 9000 7.3, TL 9000 For Service Organizations, TL 9000 Risk Managment Requirements   

    Applying Risk Management Plan Requirements For Service Organizations 

    Clause 7.3.1.C.4 of the Release 5.0 of the TL 9000 Quality Management System Requirements Handbook-Risk Management Plan, requires the certifying organization to “develop and document a plan for the identification, analysis and control of risks to the project that can impact cost, schedule, product quality or product performance”.   While this requirement is in section 7.3, Design and Development, it also applies through clause 7.1.V .1, Service Delivery, to service companies that may not design their services, but just provide them.

    The requirement is specifically intended to address the impact of risk on projects. For service companies, such risks may affect individual projects in the case of installation or outside construction work, or affect the general service you provide as in the case of a network operations center (NOC).  As a manger, your responsibility is to identify potential risks to your projects or services.  The accompanying note provides some guidance on what to look for.  The note says, “Risk Management should be performed during all phases of product development (also service delivery see 7.1.v.1) and should include:”

    a) The means to determine risk sources, categories, and priorities,
    b) Identification of significant or critical characteristics and failure modes, including customer experience,
    c) A definition of risk parameters (e.g., probability of occurrence, severity of impact) to be used in determining risk priorities and any scoring mechanisms to be used (e.g., FMEA – Failure Mode Effects Analysis),
    d) How risks will be managed (e.g., tools to be used, actions to reduce risk, mitigation strategies, monitoring and reporting requirements),
    e) Inputs from appropriate functional disciplines, and
    f) A mechanism for capturing and applying lessons learned.

    This means identifying risks may include management review or review by project experts, or a review of lessons learned from prior projects.  It may include common sense risk items that simply need to be listed and then prioritized and managed.  Your plan should also record how you plan to manage risksLet’s look at a quick example:

    Mythical Installation Company’s management knows this requirement has to be addressed.  So they conduct a series of brainstorming sessions to determine risks.  They recall that several years ago there was a significant shortage of chips that caused the products they were installing to be delayed, thus delaying their projects.  Another employee suggested that there could be a repeat of the severe shortage of skilled installers that happened two years ago.  Finally, several individuals suggested that natural or manmade disasters could cause the interruption to their installations.  Once the risks were identified they were prioritized and a management plan was developed.  The plan included customer notifications of delayed product, alternate staffing companies to mitigate possible labor shortages and a detailed strategy to relocate alternate facilities in the case of a natural disaster. These conditions and resulting strategies, were all documented in the plan.  Furthermore, management scheduled reviews during the year to ensure that the plan would continue to be appropriate.

    Naturally this is a fairly simplistic example, but hopefully it will provide some food for thought.  If you have further questions regarding risk management requirements, don’t hesitate to contact us at info@bizphyx.com.  Next week, we begin a 3-part series on the value of ISO and TL 9000 certification and some tips on how to market your certification.

  • support 5:01 am on September 20, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , implementing a quality system, , , ,   

    The Value of Your QMS: How Serious Are You? 

    I’m always curious why organizations spend the money to implement a quality management system and then don’t use it.  We see this on occasion when working with clients that spend considerable money and human resources implementing a QMS and then they let it go in the years that follow.  This is unfortunate because quality management systems can bring cost reduction and measurable customer satisfaction to a company.  It’s even more unfortunate because they are highly front loaded, as it takes a great deal to get a QMS going, but once in place they’re relatively easy to maintain.

    There are different reasons why this happens, but I believe that the root cause lies with management and corporate leadership, in the same way many business successes and failures do.  Management only has to look in the mirror to understand why their quality management system is a failure.  Maybe management never intended to take the QMS seriously once it was implemented.  Perhaps their original intentions were good, but management grew tired or bored with the whole thing.  In either case, the result will be the same.  If the quality system isn’t important to the organization’s leaders, it won’t be important to the company’s employees. So before you decide to implement TL 9000 or ISO 9001, you might ask yourself, “Am I really serious?”  If your answer is “no”, our advice is save your money!

    Here are some tips for “getting serious” with your QMS:

    First, make sure you’re committed for a good reason.  Become convinced that a quality system will help you change behaviors to systematically improve customer satisfaction and product quality. Understand that if you do this, you will lower the cost of customer acquisition, product development, marketing and customer satisfaction.  Commit to calculating these performance indicators when you start and also commit to measuring the improvements.

    Then, communicate these benefits to your employees.  Lead the way by conducting personal communication and information sessions.  Nothing has a greater impact on the message of “quality”, than when the company’s top executives deliver it-repeatedly.  Drive a “no-blame” corporate culture where all of your employees can work together in a common direction to correct process defects without putting themselves in harms way.  If you make your QMS a culture, your journey will be very successful.  For more information on TL 9000 and ISO 9001 QMS maintenance, contact bclancy@bizphyx.com.

  • support 4:29 am on September 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply
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    Can You Save Personnel With Your QMS? 

    While working with a client recently, we covered how their QMS could improve corporate profitability and a discussion of employee retention developed.  Can you actually save and retain quality personnel with your QMS?  Quality management systems such as TL 9000 and ISO 9001 are known to be effective in many ways, but have you considered that they may actually help you keep from losing valuable people? While there is no real data to support this contention, companies will provide numerous anecdotal accounts suggesting that this is true.  The difference is how management identifies and handles quality problems.

    There are basically two completely opposite methods used by management to deal with quality problems.  One method is to use the “ready, fire, aim” approach.  Management jumps to a quick solution after weak analysis and blames an employee or group of employees.  This is acceptable to employees at large, until they themselves become the targets of the blame game.  Once this culture takes hold it doesn’t take long for employees to duck problem solving to avoid being “called out.”  In the end, many employees will leave a company that has a corporate culture of blame.

    The second method is to use quality management techniques to solve quality issues.  For this to work, top management must insist on a culture of no blame, in which process change is the result of deep and effective problem analysis. In this culture, problems are viewed as opportunities to make the overall business better. The focus is on “process failure” rather than “personal” failure and problem analysis and corrective action are conducted in a formal way.  Because we rely on formal problem solving techniques, we seek data and facts to determine the root cause of a problem.  Does this mean that people never cause problems?  No.  However, when it turns out that a problem is the result of direct human failure, it is dealt with as the “exception” versus the rule, with the employee being dealt with in private.  For more information on deploying these and other techniques in your QMS, please contact us at info@bizphyx.com.

  • support 11:35 am on July 19, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Corrective and Preventive Actions: Wrap Up 

    For the past few weeks we have been discussing the keys to an effective corrective action system including the three elements of every corrective action: correcting the defect, analyzing why the defect occurred (a.k.a. root cause analysis) and preventing future recurrences of the defect.  Let’s wrap up this topic thread by discussing another frequently asked question.  Should I close a corrective action first or verify, then close? You can close the corrective action when you fix the defect, thus meeting a timely interval for taking action to fix that particular defect.  However, it remains to be seen whether the root cause has been found and solved.  The analysis of the defect’s root cause and preventing recurrence may take longer, so don’t log verification of the corrective action until you are sure your action plan has been effective.

    Let’s go back to our original example of the flat tire.  Recall that we had a flat tire (defect) and an analysis found the root cause to be the mall parking lot was full of nails.  Our analysis led us to contact mall management to ensure that the root cause was cleaned up.  Our corrective action was closed when the defect was fixed.  However, we aren’t going to log it as verified until we have confirmed that the root cause has been eliminated, i.e. there are no nails in the lot.  We can inspect the lot, we can hire a third party to inspect and report, or we can contact management to see if they have removed the nails.  Any of these are OK, but in this instance inspection is probably the best verification.

    Why do all this? We don’t want to get back in the car and have a flat tire again if we can avoid it.  Again, one of the key elements of an effective corrective action system is not just correcting things after they happen, but preventing them from happening again when we already know about them!  This quality management topic was presented by Bob Clancy, SVP of BIZPHYX.   For further information, please contact him directly: bclancy@bizphyx.com

  • support 3:55 pm on March 19, 2010 Permalink | Reply
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    Do we have to discuss all the inputs at every management review? 

    All the items stipulated for management review in sections 5.6.2 and 5.6.3 must be reviewed during management review. However, depending on the frequency of your management meetings, you may not have current discussion regarding every topic.  For example, you may only need to note that no internal audits have been conducted in the prior period.  Review of the internal audit findings would be discussed at the next management review meeting after the internal audit.  You must be prepared to show when each topic of your management review was discussed and any resulting actions to your registrar auditor.

  • support 3:15 pm on March 19, 2010 Permalink | Reply
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    Who needs to be included in the management review? 

    Depending on the size of your company you should include top management.  You may want to include other key employees from time to time as part of their learning experience.  The management review meeting is a time to share the overall results of corrective and preventive actions, audit results, customer satisfaction, changes to the business, etc.

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