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Please Visit MyQACoach.com; CAPAtrak is Being Retired

Posted by Diane Kulisek on June 22, 2016

MyQACoach.com logoTo loyal fans of downloads found via this Blog, you may have already realized that the CAPAtrak blog was a bit neglected.  The last post was in (horrors!) 2009.  Well, it is now 2016 and the world has changed.  Please note that the CAPAtrak Website and the CAPAtrak Blog will no longer be maintained effective 01 July 2016. Please visit, MyQACoach.com, for resources previously downloaded from these sites. You may also want to follow the MyQACoach.com LinkedIn Company Page to stay on top of new offerings. I will announce creation of the MyQACoach.com blog as soon as it becomes available.

Many of the downloads previously obtained via this blog have been updated, along with some newer resources for you to download, and are now available via Diane Kulisek’s showcase page, which is accessible via her profile on the MyQACoach.com website’s “About Our Team” page.  If you are seeking her Metrics Presentation, a Simple Dashboard Template, a Balanced Scorecard Template, Quality Plan examples and templates, including one for a Quality Planning SOP, or many free presentation materials, templates and tools for use in Root Cause Analysis (RCA) or Corrective Action and Preventive Action (CAPA) efforts, please visit Diane’s Profile and click on the link to “Learn more about Diane”, to find her Showcase Page.

Posted in Blogroll, Day-to-Day Observations, Philosophy and Metaphysics, Quality-Related LinkedIn Answers, Social Commentary, Tools and Methods, Science and Technology, Uncategorized, Websites | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Top Three Small Business Quality Problems

Posted by Diane Kulisek on December 21, 2009

Lonnie Mitschelen, ASQ CMQ/OE, CQE, CQA, CSSGB, Quality Assurance Engineer at Spectrolab and Owner of Can Do Quality, asked the following question on LinkedIn:

“What are the top three quality problems facing the small business (manufacturer, service provider or retailer)?  Additionally, what would you expect or want from a consultant to help resolve those quality problems? Develop a system/process? Perform a task? Train or teach? Some combination of the above? Or, something entirely different?”

Diane Kulisek, then working as a consultant, provided the following ‘Best’ rated Answer:

“I would have to say that the problems I encounter most have to do with regulatory compliance and superstition. The third would, of course, be inadequate resources to deal with either regulatory compliance or superstition effectively.  

So, the top three problems are:

  1. Regulatory compliance;
  2. Superstition; and 
  3. Inadequate resources

(although, not necessarily in that order).

Let me elaborate and provide some possible solutions from a consulting perspective, in response to the second part of your question.

I recently attended a meeting featuring a top official from a regulatory agency. As I listened to him describe the new requirements being put forth by law (i.e. in the Code of Federal Regulations), I started to realize that many companies I would categorize as “small” (less than $5 million sales per year), could not afford to comply. I asked the official what consideration of the impact upon small businesses had been put forth, he answered: “You’ve obviously mistaken us for somebody who cares. Our mission is to protect the public… not to help small businesses survive.”

The harsh fact is that many of the current regulations are beyond the ability of small businesses to comply with, economically. This places those business owners in the tough spot of having to consciously violate those regulations until they can afford to comply with them, in hope that they won’t get caught during the period in between. Can you see the mindset this establishes among such business owners, however? And for those who survive…. they will carry that mindset into the management of their larger organizations, as well. Regulatory compliance, in other words, seems to become optional, unless you get caught.

With regard to superstition, although these same small business owners seem willing to accept the potential risk of being caught non-compliant, they will not accept the risk of bringing an outside consultant into their organization. I have found that small business owners are extremely resistant to the concept of contractors for quality management or engineering. For some reason, they seem to think that it is imperative to “own” their quality personnel. I’ve even offered outright FREE consultation to these types of small business owners, just in an effort to demonstrate its value, and had it refused. I can only speculate as to why. I don’t think its personal… because I’ve heard the same story from other quality consultants. My guess would be that, because small business owners ARE making decisions that are possibly against regulatory laws, they don’t want somebody who is not dependent upon them for their livelihood knowing about it. Yet, the very people who could best bring them into compliance, and do so most cost effectively, are those they could never afford to hire on a full-time basis…. a highly-qualified and experienced quality consultant. Go figure.  [Side note from Diane now:  If you have further interest about this part of the answer, you might want to read my article published in a past issue of the American Society for Quality’s Quality Progress Magazine, now available to the public via open access, titled: “Full-Time Quality Manager or Part-Time Quality Consultant“.]

As for the inadequate resources, answers for the first two issues and your consulting question would seem to say that a consultant COULD potentially offer an affordable solution for the first two problems to a small business owner… if given a chance. When employed, there were a number of situations where I would read a regulatory requirement that the other managers in the company thought was a “show stopper” and could show my employer why, within the same regulation, our company was actually exempt from having to comply with the requirement. I remember being challenged with words like: “I thought you were supposed to be ENFORCING” the quality regulation, not circumventing it!” I would respond by saying…. “I AM enforcing the regulation. I am NOT circumventing it. I am simply explaining to you why it does not apply to our operation. The exception is written right into the regulation… but you need to know where to find it.”

Postscript from Diane:

If you are starting a small business, there are more open resources available to help you bring your organization closer to compliance today than there have ever been in the past.  Google(tm) is an amazing tool.  You can find no cost or low cost webinars on just about every quality system or compliance topic.  The U.S. Government posts every Federal Regulation and Compliance Guidance Document on-line, at no expense to businesses.  There are several free on-line and paper copy trade publications that offer outstanding articles, tools and training.  Discussion boards and answer pages, such as those offered by LinkedIn, empower you to ask nearly anonymous questions of some of the top professionals in the quality-related disciplines and receive timely answers, for free. 

For ideas about how to implement a compliant quality-management system for your small business, I recommend you start by browsing the helpful links, downloads, forms, templates and presentation handouts provided at no cost to you via the CAPAtrak website.

Posted in Blogroll, Day-to-Day Observations, Quality-Related LinkedIn Answers, Social Commentary | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Measure or Metric? Six of One, Half Dozen of the Other?

Posted by Diane Kulisek on December 7, 2009

Here is another LinkedIn ‘Best Answer’.  Anshuman Tiwari, a Change Management and Business Excellence Professional within the Information and Technology Services industry and  an active member of the American Society for Quality in India, asked the following LinkedIn Question:

“How would you differentiate between Measure and Metric?  Measure and Metric are often used terms in Balanced Scorecard and the Baldrige framework. How would you explain the difference. Do you have any examples?”

Below is the answer I posted, which Anshuman rated as the ‘Best’ answer of six provided by LinkedIn Members:

“The only distinction that I think might be able to be made does not appear to be available in any of the literature I’ve checked. I’m basing this only upon my personal experience.

I would have to say that a measure is usually performed to gather information for later analysis or to assess conformance with a known specification.

Meanwhile, I would say that a metric is a collection of measurements performed consecutively over a period of time (or in relation to some other progressive scale) that reflects ongoing performance toward attainment of a desired goal or ultimate outcome. Some measures, however, may also appear in analysis of priority or importance with regard to attainment of a goal or may influence allocation of resources for ultimate attainment of a goal (such as might be the case for cumulative Pareto analysis or 80-20 Rule determinations).

In a nutshell, then, I would have to say that a measure tends to be tactical and a metric tends to be strategic.

It certainly should be defined somewhere, officially.”

This was not part of my LinkedIn Answer, but below are the Google-derived definitions of ‘measure’:

Related phrases:   performance measure   unit of measure   made to measure   common measure   tape measure   oregon ballot measure 7   measure for measure   beyond measure   linear measure   how to measure a planet

Definitions of measure on the Web:

  • any maneuver made as part of progress toward a goal; “the situation called for strong measures”; “the police took steps to reduce crime”
  • how much there is or how many there are of something that you can quantify
  • bill: a statute in draft before it becomes law; “they held a public hearing on the bill”
  • measurement: the act or process of assigning numbers to phenomena according to a rule; “the measurements were carefully done”; “his mental measurings proved remarkably accurate”
  • standard: a basis for comparison; a reference point against which other things can be evaluated; “the schools comply with federal standards”; “they set the measure for all subsequent work”
  • determine the measurements of something or somebody, take measurements of; “Measure the length of the wall”
  • meter: (prosody) the accent in a metrical foot of verse
  • quantify: express as a number or measure or quantity; “Can you quantify your results?”
  • musical notation for a repeating pattern of musical beats; “the orchestra omitted the last twelve bars of the song”
  • have certain dimensions; “This table surfaces measures 20inches by 36 inches”
  • measuring stick: measuring instrument having a sequence of marks at regular intervals; used as a reference in making measurements
  • evaluate or estimate the nature, quality, ability, extent, or significance of; “I will have the family jewels appraised by a professional”; “access all the factors when taking a risk”
  • a container of some standard capacity that is used to obtain fixed amounts of a substance
    wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn
  • Measure is the second album from Matt Pond PA, released in 2000.
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Measure_(album)
  • A jigger or measure is a bartending tool used to measure liquor, which is typically then poured into a cocktail shaker. It is named for the unit of liquid it typically measures, a 1.5 fluid ounce (~44 ml) jigger or shot. …
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Measure_(bartending)

If we narrow our search for a definition to ‘performance measure’, we’ll find that ‘measure’ and ‘metric’ are terms used interchangeably.  There are subsearches provided for strategic performance measures and for tactical performance measures, however.  Here are the Google-based ‘performance measure’ definitions:

Related phrases:   technical performance measure   strategic performance measure   tactical performance measure   performance measure/indicator

Definitions of performance measure on the Web:

So, for ‘tactical performance measure’ we have the following Google-based definition:

A yardstick or standard used to measure progress toward achieving a tactical objective; a measure of how well we are doing; an output measure or a …
www.blackerbyassoc.com/SPGloss.html

And, for ‘strategic performance measure’ we have this:

A yardstick or standard used to measure progress toward achieving a strategic objective. a measure of how well we are doing; an outcome measure.
www.blackerbyassoc.com/SPGloss.html

Hmmm….. those look…. suspiciously… like the exact same definition.  Let’s see what the Google-based definitions are for ‘metric’:

Related phrases:   metric ton   metric system   metric space   metric structure   metric conversions   metric units   metric tonne   routing metric   euclidean metric

Definitions of metric on the Web:

  • metric function: a function of a topological space that gives, for any two points in the space, a value equal to the distance between them
  • metric unit: a decimal unit of measurement of the metric system (based on meters and kilograms and seconds); “convert all the measurements to metric units”; “it is easier to work in metric”
  • system of measurement: a system of related measures that facilitates the quantification of some particular characteristic
  • measured: the rhythmic arrangement of syllables
    wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn
  • Metric is a Canadian New Wave/indie rock band. Originally formed in 1998 in New York City, they are currently based in Toronto, Ontario, Montreal …
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metric_(band)
  • In differential geometry, the notion of a metric tensor can be extended to an arbitrary vector bundle. …
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metric_(vector_bundle)
  • In general relativity, the metric tensor (or simply, the metric) is the fundamental object of study. It may loosely be thought of as a generalization of the gravitational field familiar from Newtonian gravitation. …
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metric_(general_relativity)
  • A metric is a standard unit of measure, such as meter or mile for length, or gram or ton for weight, or more generally, part of a system of parameters, or systems of measurement, or a set of ways of quantitatively and periodically measuring, assessing, controlling or selecting a person, process …
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metric_(unit)
  • A measure for something; a means of deriving a quantitative measurement or approximation for otherwise qualitative phenomena (esp. …
    en.wiktionary.org/wiki/metric
  • metrics – prosody: the study of poetic meter and the art of versification
    wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn
  • Metrics is a property of a route in computer networking, consisting of any value used by routing algorithms to determine whether one route should perform better than another (the route with the lowest metric is the preferred route). …
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metrics_(networking)
  • Measurable element of a service, process or function. The real value of metrics is seen in their change over time. Reliance on a single metric is not advised, especially if it has the potential to affect User behaviour in an undesirable way.
    www.infodiv.unimelb.edu.au/knowledgebase/itservices/a-z/m.html
  • A standard of measurement. Software metrics are the statistics describing the structure or content of a program. A metric should be a real objective measurement of something such as number of bugs per lines of code.
    www.software-testing-outsourcing.com/glossary.html
  • A general term describing a measurable value available from a particular system or service (see also Counters). The metrics that are available depend on the monitor type and configuration of the system. …
    mon15ny450.doubleclick.net/SiteScope/docs/SiteScopeTerms.htm
  • A standard for measurement.
    www.icaa.cc/member_wellnessworkgroups/benchmarks_workgroup/Benchmarks%20Definitions%20Worksheet.doc

Defining the word ‘metric’ seems to use the term ‘measure’, a lot.  I dunno.  What do YOU think the differences are between a metric and a measure?

While you’re pondering that, feel free to download copies of my presentation handout about Quality Metrics and Dashboards from the CAPAtrak Website or enjoy the free downloadable Simple Dashboard and Balanced Scorecard Templates.

Posted in Blogroll, Philosophy and Metaphysics, Quality-Related LinkedIn Answers, Social Commentary, Tools and Methods, Science and Technology, Websites | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Welcome to the CAPAtrak Blog!

Posted by Diane Kulisek on May 21, 2007

WelcomeHello! I want to thank WordPress.com for the great free tools that enable me to share my thoughts with and communicate with my colleagues.

I’ve been writing answers to questions about quality, operations, workplace ethics and teams on the LinkedIn Answers board but not all topics lend themselves to that venue.  You can view my LinkedIn questions and answers from within my LinkedIn Profile (http://www.linkedin.com/in/dkulisek).   

Anyway, here we are! Please let me know if you have any general questions or comments about quality that would be suitable to share with the rest of the world and we can dialogue about it here.

All the best,

Diane Kulisek

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »