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Posts Tagged ‘timeliness’

Simple CAPA Status by Manager Metric Template

Posted by Diane Kulisek on October 12, 2009

simplecapastatusToday’s template is one I created for use in reporting Corrective and Preventive Action (CAPA) status (opened, closed, backlog) by manager.  If you’re in a hurry, you can click on the image to the left to request this Quality Resource, now.

The availability of sophisticated, enterprise-level, CAPA tracking and performance reporting systems is great … if you can afford them … and if you can afford to maintain them.  Unfortunately, that appears to be getting more difficult to do and, in my experience, has not often been the case.  A poorly maintained system can be (and often has been) worse than no system at all.

What to do?  Well, start small and work with tools that are familiar and easily accessible to everybody… like MS Excel.  Get the biggest bang you can for your buck. 

I have found that heightening personal accountability for timely completion of assigned corrective or preventive actions, by publishing the status of CAPA’s assigned to each person in an organization, can result in some pretty impressive returns on investment. 

For a small to medium sized company, this isn’t too hard to do using an MS Excel spreadsheet, such as the one provided here.  You can customize the reporting frequency interval to work best for you, but tracking by month has been a pretty effective way for most companies I’ve worked with to go.  If you’ve got a relatively high volume of CAPA activity, try weekly status updates.  If you hardly ever need to improve anything (because you’re just THAT good), go with a quarterly report.  You might even be able to get away with generating only a twice yearly or annual report for use in your Management Reviews.

If identifying people by name or title on a performance chart seems as though it may not be suitable for your organization, try using department names or product names, instead.

For each reporting interval, the template provided will empower you to graphically display the level of CAPA’s initiated to, closed by or in the backlog for each assigned person or group. 

There are as many ways to do this as there are people wanting to do it, of course.  You may prefer to switch to a classic Six Sigma Dashboard style and, if that’s the case, Dashboard Spy has a nifty example for you (click here).  If you’d like the software to do what you see on Dashboard Spy using Excel, consider QI Macros, one of my favorite salt-of-the-earth applications.  I’ve created a template for a Simple Quality Dashboard  using QI Macros.  The Simple Quality Dashboard template is always available for download on the CAPAtrak Website and I’ve seen it in use in many companies I’ve visited. 

If this particular “Simple CAPA Status by Manager Template” doesn’t seem to work well for your specific needs, try using Google to do a search for others.  I got 25 MS Excel spreadsheet hits when I entered this search string:  “capa status dashboard filetype: xls“.  

As always, if you need a particular form or advice on any other quality-related matter, feel free to contact me.  I’ll be happy to do what I can to help.


Posted in Tools and Methods, Science and Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Fresh… or Stale? Does it really matter?

Posted by Diane Kulisek on May 31, 2007

stale-breadHave you ever munched into a slice of stale bread…. you know… the type that just doesn’t show the mold yet? How about fresh bread? Have you ever delighted in that melt-in-your-mouth softness of a slice of bread just moments after it emerged from the bakery oven? Do you notice the differences? Do they matter to you? Would you knowingly buy stale bread? Would you pay a bit more for fresh bread? If you are like me, at all…. you prefer your bread fresh. I think most people do. The importance of freshness is pretty obvious when bread is the topic of consideration… but what about freshness in business?

Last evening I attended a social event at my Alma Mater to honor newly-graduated engineers. It was sad to see so few graduating…. but there was something equally disturbing noticeable at the event. There we all were: a group of maybe 100 people composed of a few graduates, fewer professors, about as many alumni as there were professors, family members from as far away as South Africa, and catering attendants, standing in a patio area and appreciating the warmth of Southern California in late spring. On one side of the patio was a showcase that ran almost the length of the patio. The showcase belonged to the College of Engineering and was intended to display evidence of the academic prowess thereof. At the far right end of the showcase, the Civil Engineering Department showed off it’s stuff. The poster paper had faded. The duct tape that had been holding the poster to the back wall of the cabinet had given up the ghost and the document was draped diagonally away from the wall so that I had to turn my head sideways to read it… where I noticed the 2005 date. The display was certainly not a great tribute to “construction”. There were a few small trophies scattered about and some undecipherable photo images of various sorts… all dated prior to 2005. Moving down the line I found further images from 2005… a robot competition (replete with a dusty and obviously long-abandoned robot sporting a NASA label), photographs of a 2005 commencement speaker…. all in all… it was a 25 foot long, 8 foot high declaration of years of continued self-neglect. Granted, people usually have more important things to do than showcase their achievements, including college professors, administrators, department chairs and students. Considering how few alumni were at the event, apparently the alumni are pretty busy folks, too. But this very large, difficult to miss, display…. sent a message. For me, the message was that the college was stale and complacent. Those associated with it didn’t care enough about themselves to brush their teeth, comb their hair or shower (analogous for two years of neglect to a highly visible aspect of the college’s appearance). Enough about that. I’ll call the Dean in a few minutes.

Meanwhile, I considered a couple of other “stale” things that rubbed me wrong, recently. Standing in a small aerospace company’s lobby…. the “Employee Contributor of the Year” plaque had failed to be maintained for several years. Things that ran through my mind included: “Maybe this recognition program is no longer happening… but why didn’t they take the plaque down when it ended? Or…. perhaps, despite what looked to be about 10 consecutive years of names being added to the plaque, no employee had contributed anything “valuable” lately. Or… maybe the company has been running low on resources and couldn’t afford to post the last few years’ new names on the plaque. As a potential supplier to that company…. could I trust them to pay me? As a potential customer of that company…. could I trust them to pay attention to my details? As a potential employee of that company…. could I trust them to value my contributions?” All of this ran through my thoughts in an instant… when I noticed that the company had failed to maintain a single plaque on their lobby wall.

I also visited a website just yesterday, touting the skills of a web developer/maintainer I was considering hiring. As I went to check out various pages within his website, I found that many of the hyperlinks were broken. I run a free site analyzer on my own website’s links every week to be sure they are still working. I don’t understand why a professional web developer would not do the same on a site he uses to promote his expertise…. unless he doesn’t know how… which would say to me that he’s probably dumber than I am … or he doesn’t care enough to maintain it… in which case, why would he care about maintaining mine?

I think that spring is a time when freshness is in the air. The phrase “spring cleaning” is used all through the year (in California, anyway) , but…. spring is almost over. Have you done your cleaning? I’m looking around here and… I need to get busy! Staleness matters… and freshness matters. Which are you? Which is your organization?

Posted in Day-to-Day Observations, Philosophy and Metaphysics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »