Thursday, 31 December 2015

Adding Value to Improve Corporate Financial Performance

Return on Capital Employed, ROCE, is a formula that is used to communicate financial information both internally and externally.  ROCE is shown as a percentage and is calculated by taking profit that is worked out on the profit and loss account and dividing it by the capital employed in the balance sheet. The higher the percentage the higher the return for the investor will be.  Therefore, investors do monitor the ROCE and they will use the historical and forecasted ROCE to base their decisions on investments.
The supply chain managers find the ROCE model, expanded into a hierarchy of ratios, useful as they’re able to show how their supply chain operations have influenced the financial performance. An increase or decrease in ROCE can be linked quickly to the supply chain improvements. When the delivery improves the number of sales the profits increased. When material quality is enhanced using less labour and materials the costs are reduced, resulting in an increase in profits. By improving management it is possible to reduce current assets and make better use of capital employed.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

How Companies Cascade Financial Information in Supply Chain Using the 3 Statements?

Profit and loss, balance sheet and cash flow statement are the three financial statements the companies use to cascade financial information.
Profit and Loss Account – This is the summary of the sales revenue in the financial year along with all the costs. The purpose is to show how much money has come into the business and how much has gone out for the set period. The profit and loss is made up of four parts:
  1. Trading account detailing the total sales revenue minus the cost of the sales and the changing value of stocks from the last accounting period.
  2. Shows other income (excluding the trading) and also lists costs such as administration, the aim is to show the operating losses or costs.
  3. The operating profit is then used to deduct the appropriate corporation tax, showing the net profit after tax.
  4. Dividends are taken away from the profit after the tax to show the retained profit.
The profit and loss have a huge impact on the supply chain activities, influencing quality, service, time and cost. Sales decrease if the distribution processes are not delivering quality and if manufacturing is not up to standard. Supply chain costs include:
  • Salaries
  • Depreciation of the assets of the supply chain
  • Facility energy costs
  • Facility insurance and utilities
  • Factory conversion costs
  • Purchases of raw material
  • Write off of inventory
  • Fuel costs
  • Inventory storage costs and the interest
Balance Sheet
The balance sheet is a list of assets, the owner’s investments and debts from a set time period, like a snapshot in time. All of the items owned by the company are on the balance sheet, included fixed assets like buildings and the trucks and machinery. If the equipment is leased rather than owned it isn’t shown on the balance sheet but it becomes a cost on the profit and loss sheet.
Current assets on the balance sheet refer to the raw material inventory, finished goods and the works in progress. The debtors are the customers that haven’t paid for their purchases and slow to pay customers are often the ones that have been let down by the supply chain.
Cash Flow Statement
Business cash flow is not the same as profit. The cash flow can be improved by making decisions such as leasing buildings or equipment rather than buying outright. Asking customers to pay quickly and paying suppliers later can also improve the cash flow for the company, as can reducing the size of the inventory. 
All of the three financial statements can be positively affected by managing the inventory efficiently. Costs are reduced as the storage requirements are reduced and the assets are reduced thanks to less inventory and cash flows can improve as a direct response.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Business Process in Supply Chain Finance

Businesses go into business in order to make money and bring return for the investors, and to make a profit. Profits are calculated by taking the costs for the year and deducting it from the sales for the year. Some companies are able to continue running without making profits but others will close immediately once the cash runs out. The business process in supply chain finance includes the two terms, gearing and returns.
Gearing identifies the amount of capital investment is funded by external or the internal funds. Gearing measures the financial leverage, showing which of the activities of the firm are funded by the owner’s funds and how much is funded by the funds from the creditors. If the capital is from a creditor it is a debt, if it’s funded from an owner, such as the shareholders, it’s called equity. You can measure gearing:
Gearing ¼ Debt as a % of Total Funds (debt + equity)
The ideal range of gearing for many businesses is 20-5-% of the debt.

Managers working for third party logistic companies have to work very hard to yield great returns for their customers and for their own company. Both parties need to see returns but shareholders can get higher dividends if they take more of the risk than the bank does, and have higher capital growth in the business shares.  The risk is if the company goes under the banks will own the assets while the shareholders will lose it all.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Best Practices for SCRM

SCRM stands for Supply Chain Risk Management. There are 18 best practices for SCRM, strategic sourcing or advanced procurement are mainly responsible for developing the supply market intelligence along with developing the sourcing strategy, the negotiations with the main suppliers and finalising the service supply and so on. Here’s a quick look at the 18 best practices:
  1. The current and potential suppliers are screened and constantly monitored using internally developed risk scoring or through the use of self-assessment templates.
  2. The critical suppliers are asked to provide a plan of disruption awareness in order to identify the risk management capabilities that can be applied if problems arise in the supplier’s own supply network.
  3. The expected cost of the disruptions and the resolutions must be included in the total cost equation.
  4. Suppliers need to be prepared to share information in a timely manner and be open to visibility of their material flow, shared electronically.
  5. Teleconferences to take place each week with the critical suppliers in order to identify any issues that could cause disruptions and to discuss how to reduce the issues.
  6. Introduce security enhancements that comply with the new initiatives in the customs and trade partnerships.
  7. Implement tracking technologies, such as RFID, to improve visibility.
  8. Disruption incident reports to be created and analysed after a major event that caused disruption in order to discover the errors and avoid the disruption from repeating.
  9. Create and introduce an early warning system and exception event detection system that works to bring the management into action in order to mitigate any disruption.
  10. Collect supply chain intelligence and monitor in real time to avoid disruptions in material flow.
  11. Visibility needs to be improved for the inventory buffers to benefit the real time contingency planning.
  12. Classify buffering levels for each level of criticality does reduce the risk of disruptions caused by stock levels.
  13. Employees to receive training and education to enhance their real time decision making skills.
  14. Enable evaluation and ability to execute contingency plans by creating a real time supply chain reconfiguration decision, to respond to disruption discovery.
  15. Use predictive analysis systems in the supply chain to identify the potential problems at all of the major nodes.
  16. Make damage control plans using scenario envisioning tools for the various disruption scenarios that are likely.
  17. Supply chain models and redesign tools to be used in order to see and understand the cost trade-offs of the strategies.
  18. Improve system wide visibility by improving the databases that collects daily or even hourly information on the inventory, demand, capacity levels at all of the main parts of the supply chain, not excluding the shipping locations or the ports.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Chit Chat: A Look at Tech Trends in 2016

Technology is continually evolving and making waves in how messages are delivered to customers. Organisations need to grasp on to trends and use the innovative developments that will be able to deliver amazing results. 2016 is going to be exciting when it comes to tech trends and here are some of the predicted trends to keep a very close eye on.
  • Smart content, New Digital. Get to know your customers before producing the creative. Know where they are, why they do what they do and why they do it. Interactive commercials can be developed and customers can then order directly from the television. Knowledge will let you know when and where to expose your adverts for the biggest impact.
  • Tell the world. Customers want and expect transparency but brands are very fearful of this transparency. The best brands are already open with their customers but more brands need to take this step if they don’t want to lose their customer base.
  • Mobile Platforms. People thought the Internet would not take off and some people thought that mobiles wouldn’t be as popular or as powerful as they are today. Mobile cannot be ignored anymore; websites have to be mobile friendly along with the content on the website. If you haven’t done this by now you’re already very behind your competitors and your customers will be going elsewhere.

Friday, 25 December 2015

What Questions do we Need to Ask to Understand Our Business Customers and what are the Common Roots of Customer/Quality Divorce?

Answering the following three questions helps to define the needs of the business customers:
  • How will our service or product improve their bottom line?
  • What are the roles or the job titles that will be the decision makers during the product or service selection process?
  • What are the key factors that will be used in the decision making process? How can we be better than the direct competition or how can we show value to the customers?
When the three questions are answered, it is then down to the marketing department to define the target market and how they can be reached while gathering the customer requirements. The customer/quality divorce is caused when companies miss the mark, they may improve the quality but they fail to add any value for the customer or for the company.  The common roots are:
  • Internal managers and other workers in the company fail to create a connection with the customer. The goals that are set up by managers in the company are meaningless to the bottom line and result in reduced customer satisfaction.
  • Companies don’t focus on the customer and don’t promote an empowered culture. Workers often feel their company doesn’t care about the customer and don’t deliver quality to the customer. These workers will often know how they can help solve these problems but they are ignored.
  • Companies fail to use process mapping and don’t use common sense. The process mapping tools and system modelling can show the processes that are related to value for the company and for the customer. With this information the company knows where to focus.
  • Quality improvement program aims to reduce the costs involved by reducing waste and getting rid of processes that aren’t necessary. Many companies fail to identify where to go after reducing the costs in order to add value.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

What are the Key Areas of Improvement in Customer Delight when Delivery Quality?

There are several key areas of improvement in customer delight when delivering quality. These areas are vital as quality products alone don’t build customer loyalty or customer satisfaction. A poor customer service can ruin a business and their reputation and send customers straight to the competition.
  • Adequate training of sales people, customer service reps and anyone else working in customer service. Employees have to know how to listen, communicate and be empathetic to the customer and how to follow through to get results.
  • Empowering the customer service reps so they have the ability to leave the customer happy and content with the action that has been taken.
  • Customer service personnel need to have training in PDCA so procedures can be developed and continually improved.
  • Improve the effectiveness and efficiency by using the team customer service while reducing mistakes.
  • Automated information systems, such as the CRM management, for customer services.
  • Automated customer services using artificial intelligence that will deliver high quality customer services.
  • Intelligent training and communications systems that will give the representatives up to date solutions while being cost effective.
Customers need to be left feeling delighted but costs need to be managed at the same time. All initiatives must be within budget and measurable goals defined so that the benefit to the business can be visually tracked and monitored.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Quality Assurance

QA, or quality assurance, focuses on solving problems with quality without the need to scrap or rework. Initially QA took place at management level or engineering, and it took place after the fact, so any benefits couldn’t be gained before the end of the process. QA is useful, however:
  • Product re-engineering. When a product has a failure, re-engineering is useful as it can be redesigned so there aren’t as many points of failure.
  • Process re-engineering. This is when errors can be reduced simply by finding new ways to perform the work.
  • Communications over all departments. Many of the problems with quality happened when communication was poor across the departments. It’s necessary to have excellent communications at all levels to avoid problems with quality.
  • Communications with vendors. Solving problems with quality in the supply line is achievable when communications across the entire line are excellent.
The main problem with quality assurance that it delivered too little, too late. Managers and engineers would see the value but this couldn’t be expressed to higher managerial.  However, supported and sustained QA is able to add value to a business.  Modern QA is often combined with quality control and the best practices are used to concentrate on quality improvement in the business world.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

What is the Common Confusion in Inspection Ideas?

Inspection doesn’t have a good reputation in some circles due to misunderstanding that have been made in the past.  One of the misunderstandings came from Edwards Demming who said “Quality comes not from inspection but from improvement of the process”. This, and other comments, were misunderstood and then misapplied them.  However, Deming wasn’t saying that inspections should be stopped, he was simply saying that the information gathered from inspections should be used differently, not just resulting in the scrapping or reworking of a product. The information should be used to improve methods so that quality can be built in.
Another inspection confusion is that it is often believed that statistical quality control replaces inspection, but this isn’t the case except in limited circumstances. Statistic quality control will work with large quantities of products or components that are identical, really limited to manufacturing or automated services or high volume services. Inspection has to be relied on in all other circumstances.
Finally, some people think that inspections have to be completed by humans but now computer controlled sensors and robots can be used to carry out inspections.

Monday, 21 December 2015

What are the Good Practices for Obtaining Quality Requirements?

Here are several practices that can be used to obtain quality requirements.
  1. Define the goal at the start. It’s vital to define the new product, learn about the customers and what they like about the current product and compare the opinions of the customer against your competitors. Finally, determine the specific changes that are desired by the customer.
  2. Interactive. Learn more by allowing customers the chance to try out the product or service rather than simply asking questions. If prototypes or samples are not available using images, diagrams and charts instead.
  3. Track records. Record all sessions, ideally using video or audio. Have a couple of note takers available if audio and video are not possible.
  4. Use the best practices of the industry. Examples of best practices include focus groups and structure requirements elicitation methods.
  5. Good survey design is paramount.
  6. Examine the results rather than gathering data and not using. Use analytic tools, plan, do, check and act.
  7. Test your results and then improve the final product or service using what was learned during the sessions.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Chit Chat: A Look at Business Trends in 2016

It’s important to look ahead and use what we know currently to help forecast what might be around the corner. With that in mind, here are three business trends that industry experts predict for 2016.

Increase of technology.
Technology has constantly worked on and one of the ways it’s improved is by increasing power, speed and performance all why reducing the costs involved. Mobiles have become increasingly important in 2015 and they will become more important in 2016. Apps will continue to improve and it will be so important for businesses to keep up with the incoming technology and learn how to use it.

Communications are joining.
Smartphones aren’t just phones; they are small computers that are used for multiple purposes. Wi-Fi is spreading far and wide and will continue to grow in 2016. Interconnections will continue to grow in the business world too and there is certainly room for improvements to be made in the business world. Business specific platforms and wearable electronics will change the way we work.

The Millennials.
Millennials are now in the workforce in huge numbers and there are plenty that hold powerful positions. Millennial demands will increase, they are comfortable using technology and they are less likely to be tied down to one location. They have a quest to perfect the work/life balance and if that means relocating they are willing to do it.

Friday, 18 December 2015

What are the 5 Stages of Quality Management Framework in the Supplier-Input-Process-Output-Customer (SIPOC)

There are often hundreds, thousands or even millions of tasks that are involved in making a single product. The tasks are linked as one output from one task is the input of another task, and these are worked through until the suppliers are linked through the tasks all the way to the customer, called the Supplier Input Process Output Customer model. The company will have many chains that link all of the suppliers to the customers.

The 5 stages of quality management framework are: 
  1. Quality definition – The quality definition is always before the process definition.
  2. Quality planning – Quality planning defines the different processes that are needed in order to deliver the product in order to meet or exceed expectations. The processes are put into order as the outputs are linked of one process to the inputs for the next process and so on.
  3. Quality control – Quality control includes checks so that the outputs and the processes will meet requirements. Any defective outputs can then be reworked or scrapped.
  4. Quality assurance – Quality assurance includes the activities use to evaluate processes and make improvements. Work could be re-engineered to remove any unnecessary processes and to ensure effective communication and understanding though the SIPOC chain. Audits and reviews are used so that standards are retained throughout all processes.
  5. Delivering quality – SIPOC chains are carried through to the customer receiving the product or the service. The customer believes they have a product or service that is of value and of good quality.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

What are the quality flow process perspective and its elements?

A good flow is good for business and so it makes sense to see a business as multiple flows through different pipes. Clogs will cause problems with the pipes and therefore they need to be avoided. Flows are processes and each of the processes has 7 different elements.
  • Inputs – inputs are the raw materials or the different components that go into a process and end up being part of the final output.
  • Process – the process is the activity that’s required to make inputs into outputs.
  • Outputs – the end result is the output, this could be a finished product or a component.
  • Tools and or equipment – The tools are used for the tasks.
  • Resources – Resources include any disposable item and effort needed. The resources are not included in the product but they are part of the process.
  • Techniques – The techniques are the instructions for the work processes.
  • The work environment – Where the work is being performed.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

What are the Business Perspectives of Quality?

Value can be increased for customers and a business by using quality management, but it’s necessary to change business processes for this to work. The problem is changing just one business process is complex and full of challenges and will probably require multiple changes in order to refine it. Big problems are addressed first and then the smaller issues are addressed. Sometimes businesses might experience small benefits or even a bottleneck if they’re not able to reach the root causes of problems. This can be disheartening and result in businesses looking elsewhere to solve these issues. Additionally the benefits do vary. Sometimes one change in a business process will bring huge benefits, while others bring little.

The business perspectives of quality are centred on the three following reasons:
  1. Constant checking is unavoidable when improving quality. There are many problems that need to be checked, from human errors to mechanical failures. Constant checking spots problems constantly and as a result quality improves.
  2. Businesses that don’t focus on quality fall behind those other businesses that make it a priority.
  3. Many problems can be solved by using quality management, including customer retention, reducing costs of sales and operation costs.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

What are the three issues when defining quality for consumers?

The three issues that are faced when defining quality for consumers are:
  1. Identifying the customer groups – most commonly defining the customer groups by age, gender and location (where they live).
  2. Describing each of the customer groups by identifying the purchaser and the user. The purchaser is the person buying the item and the user is the person who will use the product, this may not be the buyer. Also include stakeholders that might be involved in the decision of making a purchase who will also need to be satisfied.
  3. Defining the customer requirement specification to find out what it is that the customer wants. Their wants, then have to be described for the technical team so they can create the service or the product and to the marketing team so it can be promoted and advertised correctly. Customer representatives are used to achieve this sometimes to saving money by not working with the customer directly. There is a risk of using a customer representative as they might get things wrong, resulting in the creation of a product that isn’t of value to the customer.

Monday, 14 December 2015

What is Quality to the Customer and what are the Three Perspectives?

In business it is necessary to always consider the customer when working on quality. This is why it is vital that the voice of the customer is heard and listened to when working on quality process while remembering the needs of the business. Quality has to be right for the company and for the business, delivering value to the customer and improving the bottom line is the goal for each of the quality improvement.

What Does Quality for the Customer Mean?
In order to understand what quality means for the customer it’s necessary to answer this question looking from three different perspectives:
  1. The perspective of the customer. Delivering expectations in a hassle free way for the customer that will result in them recommending your product or service to others.
  2. The perspective of the business. Being able to identify the market, communicating with the customers and having high quality services and developing a good requirements specification while staying within budget.
  3. The technical perspective. Customer quality from the technical perspective can be delivered if the requirements specification is correct and details what the customers want, need and expect.
It’s necessary to work differently when defining quality from the point of view of the business or the customer. Customers need to have their expectations and needs met by the product and service. They want to have an easy selection and buying experience with you and for the product and service to remain useful for as long as it needs to be.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Chit Chat: A Look at Hospitality Tech Trends in 2016

The hospitality industry cannot escape the way technology is shaping the world. Companies need to change and adapt to the changes that are a result of technology or risk being left behind. Here are the three tech trends that are going to make an impact in 2016 according to industry experts.
  1. Social media cannot be ignored and needs to be embraced. In 2015, 50% of consumers purchased a product based on recommendations online and 65% of them visited a website on a frequent basis. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, Blogs and other forms of social media are when hoteliers are managing to increase their room occupancy.
  2. Mobile devices, or mobility, must be worked into the company as there are now over 2 billion smartphones in the world. Travellers are using their smartphones and 76% say that their smartphones are critical to them. Smartphones are used frequently during travel and use their device to plan their travel too. Apps for check-ins, e-menus and online services are advantageous for companies in the industry.
  3. Hotel ERP   address problems that are caused by property management systems that can no longer deal with large amounts of data from a variety of channels, including social media, revenue management, business intelligence and more. A hotel ERP system will leverage data that can then be used to personalise the way you deal with each of your guests.

Friday, 11 December 2015

What are the Different Types of Requirement and Important Things to Note in the 3 Types of Requirement?

There are different types of requirement that go beyond the basic idea of the technical requirement that is the measurable aspect of a product.  There are different technical and functional requirements too, the different types of requirement are:
  • Input requirement – This is when input checks are made. An example of this is when a raw material that comes from a vendor is checked before it is used in the process.
  • Process requirement – The process requirement is a measure of a process while it is happening.
  • Output requirement – A measurable and definable feature of the product or the component (the output).
There are several things that you need to note about the requirements above:
  • Each of the requirements must be applied to the component parts and the product as a whole
  • Some of the tests on the components can only be tested before the product is assembled.
  • There are requirements that are interchangeable.
  • The process requirements will often need to be validated or measured during the process, and they cannot be gathered after the process has been completed.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

What are the Key Quality Concepts?

Requirements and Standards

Good standards need to be defined and the standards need to be met using the quality management processes. There are two different perspectives that have been created as a result of different notions of what is meant by a standard. The first perspective is where the standards are seen as being every requirement has to be met but not the customer specification, this creates a view that sees quality as a peripheral issue that isn’t concentrated on the customer. Quality management ends up being an added expense from this perspective and something of a necessity.

The second perspective is when the customer specification is included in the standard so quality management is a necessity and part of the planning and work processes. There are many benefits gained by using this perspective:

  • Customer value is added at no or little cost by simply asking the customer what do you want and what do you want.
  • Value is at the core when ensuring a good specification. The QA and QC methods are used when creating the requirements specification.
  • Customer/quality divorce is prevented thanks to the integration of quality management with the service product and project management.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

How to Deliver the Product with Quality

In order to deliver a product with quality it’s necessary to:
  • Define quality and make sure it’s made and delivered to the customer
  • Use the skills of people so that the customer requirements can be elicited and that the teams are able to be managed in a way that will deliver the customer requirements.
  • People will skills in data and information so that the customer requirements can be made into a technical specification and also plan the work that is required.
  • Physical skills are required so that the products and services can be made, meeting the specifications.
Customer requirements have to be specified in order to deliver a product with quality. Information comes from the customer, outside the business, and then business turns that information into the requirements so quality is delivered providing the requirements are met.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

How to Manage Customer Expectation

The expectations of customers are more than just the specifications of the product. If you want happy customers, you need to deliver a product or service that meets with their expectations, but how do you manage their expectations?
  • Setting Parameters - When asking the customer for their input, it is sensible to define parameters so the customer doesn’t have a free range. If you give the customer too much freedom to move they will begin demanding things that cannot be achieved or cannot be delivered within budget.
  • Communicate - Stay in contact with the consumer throughout the entire development process.  Through communication, it is possible to remind customers of the specifications of the products so that their expectations are kept in line so the end product will meet them.  The consumers should also enjoy the process and get on with your product team. All communications need to be prompt, friendly and professional at every stage.
  • Making Sure Customers Know What They Are Getting - Some products or services fail because the customers don’t realise that their expectations are being met.  Customers need to know what they are getting; the message needs to be delivered by paying close attention to the customer when they have the product or service and not just during development. 

Monday, 7 December 2015

How to Develop the Product

In order to achieve optimum results in the quality development and delivery of a product that can meet or exceed the customer’s specifications, most quality management work is focused on the operations management definition of quality. It is necessary to:
  1. Plan on how quality is going to be delivered
  2. Follow the plan and do the work involved to deliver quality that meets or exceeds the customer specifications
  3. Check that the work that’s been completed conforms to the specification by inspecting and performing quality control
  4. Act on what has been discovered during the checking process so errors can be eliminated and that the end result will deliver to the specification
It is also necessary to test and respond to those tests to ensure that the company is doing a good job by implementing quality assurance (QA) testing. Quality assurance tests everything, including activities that cut across different departments. Finally the quality of the product or service needs to be delivered to the customer.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Chit Chat: A Look at eLearning Trends in 2016

Let’s take a quick look at the predicted eLearning trends for 2016.

2016 is expected to be the year that will see automation become a vital part of content creation and processing. Content providers will be making use of automated solutions to produce their courses and learning materials, saving themselves time and money. Tests, exercises and quizzes will be generated by tools that will scan the content of the course and be able to recognise key areas that need to be tested.

Big Data
Big data will play a part in eLearning, providing more information and data that can be used by learning providers to come up with valuable and meaningful information about course content and the performances of the user. Learning tracking will allow for greater personalisation.

Augmented Learning
2016 will be the year that augmented learning development s will make good progress as augmented reality devices become more common place. Augmented learning offers value by being able to adapt environments to the learner. Keep a close eye on Oculus rift and the Apple Watch!

Cloud Computing
Cloud computing has been growing for a while now and eLearning is really embracing the functionality that the cloud provides. Some people are still nervous about the cloud due to security concerns but these attitudes are on the decline as the cloud provides many ways for learners to benefit.

A personalised approach to learning is a key point that cannot be ignored. Personalisation means that the learner will be able to have courses and course materials designed to suit their needs and their learning styles. The results will be powerful, as the learners can design their own learning path and use their interests and skills to produce coursework. Personalised learning engages students and encourages better results.

2016 will see eLearning make good use of gamification – the application of game dynamics onto non-gaming contexts to achieve excellent results, motivating people to reach their goals, teaching and entertaining at the same time. Gamification will allow learners a chance to interact with the learning materials on a much deeper level, increasing recall.

Mobile technology has a firm grip on most parts of the world so it’s only natural for users to begin using their smartphones for educational purposes. mLearning is expected to take off in a big way and some experts will see mLearning becoming a dominant force in eLearning in the future.

Friday, 4 December 2015

About Product, Project and Quality Planning

Product, project and quality planning are one of the end to end process of quality management for the development of a product or a service that we spoke of earlier in the week.

Planning will ensure that everyone knows what the product needs to do in order to meet with the requirements of the customer, to conform to specifications and to meet any other requirements that have been established. The other requirements may come from the company itself, the stakeholders, the industry or any other set standards that need to be conformed to.

Quality planning is a relatively new term that came from the nineties.  Included in the plans are ways to avoid mistakes being made, included all preventative measures that need to be taken. It also includes how the quality is going to be managed along with touching on some of the design activities for the quality assurance.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

About Requirement Elicitation

It’s necessary to know how the customer defines quality and how they experience it but are unable to define it themselves. Here are some key points to remember:
  • Think of requirements elicitation as defining specific qualities of a specific service, product or solution that will add value to the customer
  •  Requirements elicitation is a dialogue that will result in new understanding for the customer once it’s been created by the provider
  • Asking and answering questions is at the core of the dialogue.
  • It’s necessary to construct the dialogue using constraints, so to control the outcome or the results will be unattainable
  • The dialogue needs to have a beginning, middle and an end.
Open discussion is a high level view of the end to end process involved in quality management.  The end result is a written specification and a process that is fully approved by the stakeholders, customers and the vendors. Quality requires good requirements elicitation in order to quality to be both defined and delivered. There’s no room for excuses such as ‘We didn’t know what the customer wanted’.  By failing to complete good requirements elicitation, the business is left with no product or a product that needs expensive reworking.

There are different final results that are considered acceptable after the dialogue of requirements elicitation:
  • The solution – Finding the solution to a problem that has been brought forward by a customer. The problem needs to be defined and a solution sought.
  • A capability – Making sure the product or service is capable of meeting an expectation of the customer. The job is to then define what and how a product will be capable of doing that.
  • Functionality – The customer may demand the product or service has or does something in particular.
  • The product or the service – At the end of the requirements elicitation there may be a full specification that defines what the customer sees as the product or the service. Then it is down to the business to work on defining the technical components of the product.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

What are the steps to high level view in the end-to-end process of quality management for development or improvement of a product or service?

In order to achieve a high level view of the end to end process of quality management it’s imperative to check, test and take corrective action, but these steps are not included at the end to end process, which is as follows:
  • Corporate planning in order to define the target market, competition and parameters of the product/service
  • Discovering what the customer really wants and making sure the requirements are specified
  • Product, project and quality planning so that it is clear what is being made, how it will be made and how it will conform to specification.
  • The development of the product following QC and QA
  • Managing the expectations of the customer
  • Delivering a quality product so the customer is able to see the value and the product/service builds on the reputation of the business.
The consequences of error in the quality management process are as follows:
  • Corporate planning – An error in the corporate planning will result in a product that will fail
  • Requirement elicitation – errors in requirements elicitation result in the specification that is incorrect and unsatisfied customers
  • Product, project and quality planning – Errors made in these planning processes will be costly to fix and will result in the inability to create a quality product on time and in budget
  • Developing the product – errors made in developing the product with QA and QC result in defects for each or all instances of the delivered product
  • Managing the customer expectation – product failure is a result of failing to manage the expectations of the customer, resulting in major losses for the business
  • Delivering the product with quality – Failure at the end of the project, the loss of repeat business and failing to satisfy the customer are a result of not delivering a quality final product

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

What is Quality and what problems does business face when defining quality?

The definition of quality is formed by gathering ideas together from the following four disciplines:

1.    Philosophy – Used to find a way to define quality
2.    Economics – Examines quality based on the value and how needs are fulfilled
3.    Marketing  - Examines customer value and takes into consideration the customer decision making process
4.    Operations management – sees quality as conformance to specifications

The many ideas of quality are based on the idea that each individual interprets their experience at four levels, which includes universal, cultural, social and individual. It’s important to include the customer’s perspective when defining quality by delivering customer satisfaction while in the creation of products and services. For the marketing and economists professionals, they utilise the customer perspective when they examine quality.

The economists see quality as something that will give value to the customer while meeting their needs. When the customers are willing to pay for the product with its perceived value, it creates a demand for that product and services that then help determine the market value when used together with supply availability. Marketing professions see the quality of a product as something that will add value from the customer’s perspective. Customers are asked for their feedbacks on what they want from a product and then marketers will either focus on the message to either help them understand the value or influence their preference. 

In order to find out what customers want when defining quality, businesses will find themselves faced with the following problems:
·         When the customer doesn’t know what they want and there is no customer decision maker. – “I know it when I see it” create a problem when defining quality before the product is made and de livered but it can be solved by including the customer’s voice in the quality definition process.
·         Each individual has their own distinctive preference. By creating a product that will satisfy many people, it leads to pricing and quality choices. For some, they are willing to sacrifice product preference due to the lower pricing thus leads to production of a product line that tailors to different customer’s requirements.
·         Defining quality takes money and time. There is a trade-off that higher quality item will cost more.
·         Working with the customer to define quality requires much expertise and analysis.
·         Customer’s reaction is not limited to only the products but also to their past experiences.
·         Customers are complicated, they are individuals and they buy for others and not just themselves
·        The value of the product cannot often be seen or experienced until the product has been purchased and consumed for a while.
·         An alternative to finding out what customers want is to use branding and marketing

Pleasing the customer is the ultimate goal.

Monday, 30 November 2015

What are the two most essential ideas at the core of quality management?

The relationship between scientific method and business management gave rise to quality management through the evolution of the problem solving solutions by engineers, managers, executives and government. The key to understanding quality management is to recognise how people solved problem through the different generations and how they found new ways to apply the scientific method to engineering and business by separating business management from technical engineering.

There are two essential ideas at the core of quality management. These include the following ideas:

1)    Standardisation
A standard is when we try to conform to a defined target or goal that can be observable and measurable while standardisation is the process that is used to see if we’re conforming to a standard whilst making the necessary corrections to ensure better conforming to that standard. In order to standardise something, it’s important to:
1.    Understand the standard
2.    Make a comparison to the process or thing to the standard
3.    Know what the acceptable variation from the standard
4.  Take action where necessary to meet that standard.

2)    Scientific Method
Empiricism is one of the defining elements of science. It is the idea that knowledge is the basis of experience and observable facts. This is one of the distinguishing features of science that separate it from philosophies and religions. Science doesn’t use divine sources; it examines what is and what will work. Empiricism is used is business and engineering, by focusing on what works and not doing what fails, which is good business sense.

Another aspect of science is scientific method. This is when scientists make and test theories, the process involves:
1.    Observing something, be it reality or nature
2.    Creating a hypothesis, a statement stating why possible reasons for the events that happened in observation
3.    Designing a test that will provide results that can be observed so the hypothesis can be evaluated.
4.    Carrying out the test and recording the findings
5.    Evaluating the results. If the hypothesis is confirmed, it can move forward to becoming an accepted hypothesis, or a theory.