Seek and Find – Opportunities for Continuous Improvement are Everywhere
For many decades, Dr. W. Edwards Deming (1900-1993) was regarded by many as the leading quality guru in the United States. Dr. Deming's theory for management transformation included his famous “Fourteen Points.” Point five focused on improving constantly and improving every process...
“Improve constantly and forever every process for planning, production, and service. Search continually for problems in order to improve every activity in the company, to improve quality and productivity, and thus to constantly decrease costs. Institute innovation and constant improvement of product, service, and process.”
In helping companies to better define quality issues as they relate to productivity, the NHQ Certified Trade Contractor program has generally defined “hotspots” as recurring installation and workmanship-related issues. Workmanship-related quality problems can result in a costly combination of return trips to a jobsite and decreased customer satisfaction and confidence. Therefore, the recurring defect identification process (NHQ requirement 4.1) and the corrective action training process (NHQ requirement 4.2) should include constant focus on identifying these issues, determining the root causes, and implementing effective corrective action.
However, the identification and prioritization of recurring defects and continuous improvement initiatives (hotspots) can be broadened to consider any and all aspects of the company. According to the American Society for Quality, continuous improvement is an ongoing effort to improve products, services, or processes. This includes all of the services provided where an improvement initiative might improve the effectiveness of the company.
NHQ Certified Trade Contractor Blackton Flooring, Inc., of Orlando, Fla., uses the term “Continuous Improvement Focus” (CIF) rather than “hotspot” to identify its monthly continuous improvement efforts. In December 2007, the company’s quality management team identified a problem with timely and efficient processing of proposal requests and made it a CIF. According to Blackton’s compliance officer Agnes Monett, “Deadlines were overlapping. We sometimes realized the set of plans we had first received, was not the set that had to be completed first. Some builders sent plans months in advance and gave us plenty of lead time. Some builders gave us plans on Monday and wanted their proposals by Wednesday. We soon realized we needed a system of tracking the plans received, as well as the bids/proposals that were due, so we could prioritize the estimating and bid process.”
Blackton used its CIF process to develop and implement a procedure of bids/proposals coming through the company’s administrative assistant. The information is now entered into a tracking log on the company network prior to assigning the work. According to Monett, “This gives us the ability to see, at a glance, what plans have been received, what is being worked on, and when bids are due. This immediately improved our work prioritizing and time management.”
So while NHQ certification requirements expect that recurring workmanship-related issues are identified and corrective action is implemented with crews, a complete quality management system should involve everyone in the company and include a search for continuous improvement of every process and procedure within the organization.
As Joseph Juran (1904-2008), another quality management pioneer, put it “to achieve improvement at a revolutionary pace requires that improvement be made mandatory—that it become a part of a regular job, written into the job description.”
For more information on the NHQ Certified Trade Contractor Program requirements, visit www.nahbrc.org/NHQTradeReqs.[return to top]