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Building Quality Into Your Team

Customer satisfaction, robust service delivery, repeatable successes and continuous improvement can be achieved with a right focus on quality. Following defined processes in spirit and augmenting them when needed quickly builds an unbeatable team. The team becomes high performing like a nuclear reactor that goes critical.

An “as is” study of current operations can help to identify the areas that are doing well and those that require further improvement.

A well defined objective backed by well defined plan and a defined process is a must for every activity. The ISO 9000 premise puts it very well: “Do as you document, document as you do”. Thus, these processes should be documented, and a good communication channel must take up the task of ensuring that these are well communicated. Putting the quality documents on the company/team intranet is one way to ensure that everyone in the organization refers to the same quality documents. To be continuously improving, the organization must be open to suggestions. It is advisable to encourage practitioners to come up with suggestions; suggestions thus made should be reviewed periodically incorporated, in some cases, after piloting.

Once a quality system is in place, periodically key metrics such as productivity, schedule adherence, defects/trouble tickets, etc. must be gathered. These metrics are typically analyzed, conclusions made, corrective actions implemented where necessary. The metrics contribute immensely to organizational learning. The metrics can be used also for estimation and forecasting. An efficient forecasting system for the volume and type of work can assist in the training of the existing staff and make appointments well in advance. Smooth flow of work, backed by excellent trained staff can ensure quality.

Next step after definition of a quality system is a good monitoring system. A system to monitor the process, procedure and the manpower at regular intervals assures quality. Management information system makes sure that all applications, manpower, and procedure get directed to the attainment of the company’s objectives. Process review can detect deviations from the proposed course of action, thus eliminating chances for drastic measures. Transaction review, on the other hand, can boost quality delivery. Similarly, performance appraisal helps to keep track of employee performance, as an individual and as a team player. Appraisal is the evaluation of worth, quality and merit. Performance review by peers, subordinates and superiors is a powerful tool for quality assurance. It tells the employee where he stands and pressurizes him to put in better performance. As performance appraisal lays the foundation for promotion and salary benefits, a motivation to take the initiative to put in the best falls on the employee.

A measure to classify error based on customer requirement can help in grading the degree of error and its impact on the process. Steps can be taken to deal on the basis of urgency. Immediate rectification can improve the quality of the product delivered.

An evaluation of the system and process and a check on deviations from the defined objectives provides less room for inferior quality. Periodic audit, both internal and external acts as a check mechanism. Modern quality systems like the Capability Maturity Model Integrated (CMMI) take the onus back to the practitioners. CMMI advocates assessment as opposed to audit (read policing). While some industries might not yet be matured to implement CMMI, ISO serves as a starting point.

Quality also involves implies an efficient workforce. Thus, in addition to having processes for transactional work, welfare activities can add as an incentive for employees. Stress busters, team building activities can motivate them to put in their best. A system of leave planning, especially during the peak season, can assure smooth flow of the activities. In addition to these, dissatisfaction and attrition tracker identifies the reason for unhappiness amongst the employees. Proper corrective steps at the right time helps in preventing further dissatisfaction. People Capability Maturity Model is a new model used for increasing workforce efficiency.

A clear cut objective, backed by well communicated procedures and a good evaluation process and people technique can ensure quality in a team.

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