Quality Improvement

The focus of our activity to improve quality of operations is dictated by our perception of what in our operation has caused the problem, and what part of that causal system we have internal control to improve.

Thus, one of the core issues for successful operations improvement programs is access to the type of data that accurately and completely depict and explain what caused the problem. Yet, the sophisticated data and project management approaches that are today being applied in the operations improvement arena, lack a repeatable process and criteria for objectively identifying the root causes of operations problems.

Best effort perception of the problem, its causes and ensuing solutions are often the products of subjective opinions, assumptions and educated guesses based upon individual experience, job skills, personal judgment and insight. Because each of us has a different set of these skills and characteristics, it is clear why results of problem solving without repeatable process and criteria for accuracy tend to be inconsistent. What is needed is a method of problem solving that provides process and validation of data before resources are allocated to projects. In many cases, this is the last step to achieving operations improvement success.

Why is the most logical step toward operations improvement success often the last step taken?

It is a complex issue and question. Much of the answer lies in the fact that so many good and competing ideas for improving the quality of operations have been designed and implemented during the last couple of decades that there exist today many bastions of method with devoted and competing advocates. These approaches share the qualities of directed, organized and managed activity. However, in application, the degree and consistency of successful operations improvement often is as much a function of the quality of data feeding the system as it is the system itself.

Sincere enthusiasm and commitment to the goal, and the dynamics from a marketplace of competing schools of thought tend to focus attention upon the qualities and advantages of the various competing approaches, and away from the single ingredient that most drives the success and consistency of operations improvement activity. It is the one requirement that all of these sophisticated data and project management systems share in common. At the core for success of operations improvement activity is the need for visibility of the internal, systemic causes that generate and permit counter-quality in the environment.

In the truest sense, data are the fuel that powers today’s operations improvement engines. Performance consistency and degree of success are direct consequences of the quality of data that is injected into the system.

The REASON Root Cause Analysis System solution is a unified and integrated system that generates an entirely new level of data and knowledge with which operations improvement professionals can work to dramatically improve their capabilities and results. The REASON Root Cause Analysis System is a full circle technology:

  • A structured and repeatable process for discovering the systemic causes of operations problems
  • A set of criteria for determining and validating accuracy and completeness
  • A Corrective Action Tracking system that enables you to manage your projects: assigning responsibility, writing the plan, setting schedules, sending notices and reminders, following up to verify completion.
  • A unique data ordering scheme that provides new insights into and understanding of the counter-quality patterns existing within the environment
  • A unique data trending analysis concept that keys upon what changes in the operation produced the problem, instead of keying to only the incidence of results
  • A standard of objective quantification that compares improvement options for benefit and cost-effectiveness
  • A lessons learned system that monitors incoming data in real-time and automatically alerts personnel when data match any identified factors within their responsibilities and activities.

Root cause analysis, it may be a last step ahead of you to upgrade the results of your operations improvement activities. If your system is in place with effective data management and project management system capabilities, trained personnel and the management commitment of time and assigned responsibilities, but your results are inconsistent or less than you had anticipated, the good news is that the core reason is probably a simple lack of accurate and complete data that pinpoint the internal, systemic root causes that are interacting and combining to generate your operations problems. REASON is the quick and cost-effective solution to filling your tank with the high-octane data that will help improve your performance immediately and into the future.

REASON is the root cause analysis and lessons learned system used by the United Space Alliance on this country’s space projects, and was used for the Department of Energy in its international root cause analysis of the Northeast Electric Power Blackout of August 2003 that raised so many homeland security, national defense and energy concerns. Its used at cheese makers and computer chip manufacturers alike. Its easy enough to use on simple issues, yet robust enough to deal with your high-loss, catastrophic issues too.

REASON is a no nonsense root cause analysis system designed for organizations serious about operations control and process improvement, and interested in adopting new problem solving and knowledge management technology into their operations improvement strategy.