Office Quality & Kaizen

November 28, 2011

J.L. Mitchell, Certified Lean Leader, Creative Director

The tenet of Willington Nameplate’s quality statement is “Do it Right the First Time…Every time”. To achieve this end we foster an environment of proud craftspeople that take pride in the quality of your nameplates and labels. Our customer service representatives are dedicated to achieving the highest level of customer satisfaction by listening to your needs and using your requests to further enhance the quality of our products and service to you.

Quality at the first contact, the office, was a good starting point for an office kaizen. The office builds all communication and requirements from the customer into a recipe for all team members to work from and ensure the customer’s requirements are met.

Kaizen is Japanese and means “improvement”, or “change for the better”. It is a systematic methodology for implementing rapid change through elimination of waste. A kaizen team is made up of flexible, lean thinking, team orientated, and cross-functional individuals.

One member, TracyBazzano, just received internal lean leader certification from Leanovations this past fall. This was Tracy’s first kaizen event as a lean leader. She is also a certified, internal quality auditor through BP Solutions. We decided to interview Tracy on her experience in the office quality kaizen held on October 17, 2011.

Jess: Why an office non-conformance kaizen?
Tracy: Data showed an overwhelming amount of non-conformances in the office effecting business and cost of quality. Currently there was not a method of trending and identifying the root cause of the non-conformances.

Jess: What data is made available to the company on non-conformances?
Tracy: Daily reports are sent one or more times to all computer users. It includes the following:
1) Customer name
2) Type of non-conformance (internal or external)
3) Sales representative
4) Job number
5) Description of discrepancy
6) Process
7) Responsible department
8) Cost of quality
Our company metrics are posted monthly and details the final count per department of internal and external non-conformances. The entire company meets at this board monthly and reviews the data.

Jess: What were your goals for this kaizen event?
Tracy: We wanted to keep the goals to a maximum of 5. They included a survey to be taken by the office employees, trending of non-conformances, identifying root causes, create checks and balances to minimize non-conformances, and testing of all new procedures.

Jess: A survey is a creative goal; can you explain how and why that was utilized?
Tracy: The kaizen group felt an anonymous/confidential survey was a stress free tool for gathering an honest and helpful response from the office. The best information resides in the worker, and the kaizen team respected that. The survey was 18 open response questions through Survey Monkey, an online survey plan we use to track customer satisfaction.

Jess: What were your results of meeting your goals for this kaizen event?
Tracy: Current non-conformances were trended and a large amount resulted in not using a current tool to increase quality, the docket checklist. That checklist was revised and an overlay was created to help reduce errors. The kaizen team is still in the process of monitoring the use of the revised and new tools to see if a change in non-conformances are evident. Another good thing that came out of the event was our visual office workflow. Throughout the facility visuals are used to gauge production levels and planning. The office lacked any visuals for an outsider to walk in and know where the orders where heaviest and at what stage of completion.

Jess: The kaizen event is done, now what?
Tracy: The kaizen event is never really done, it is sustained. Three of the members of the kaizen team are from the office and took ownership of the follow-up items. Our event was one week, from 7:00am – 10:00am and we definitely had open items after the event to take care of. Those items included a 30-day observation of the visual office workflow and trending of future non-conformances. Observation of mandatory use of the docket checklist and overlay was our final task to track as well.

Jess: Do you have any words of wisdom for anyone starting an office kaizen?
Tracy: Yes, gather your members 1 or 2 weeks before the event and brainstorm. The team charter is a great starting point and data gathering before the event helps launch the event to a beautiful start.

A slide show of this event is posted on our company LinkedIn account.