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Take Action to Improve Process Flow

Published: 20 Nov 2014 19:22:03 PST

improve-process-flow4Whether you work in manufacturing or any other sector, no one is a stranger to problems in their company or organization. The compelling question is, “what's the best approach to correcting problems and preventing them in the future ”

In last month's article titled, “How You Can Improve Quality At Your Organization In 4 Key Parts”, we told you about four key areas where you can iron out the wrinkles in your organization and improve quality and process flow. Last week we went a step further and gave you a closer look at how to improve process flow by rethinking roles&responsibilities. In this article, we're focusing on corrective and preventive actions to solve problems in your organization.

Corrective Actions

Corrective actions are a critical and integral part of any well-managed organization and can serve to improve quality, while improve-process-flow2bringing costs down and reducing waste. Every function and department of organizations can benefit from problem solving using corrective actions. A corrective actions team should be cross-functional with representatives from the main business functional areas. The meetings should be brief, as the team should predominately come along with the solutions rather than discuss the problems. This should just be a kind of “rubber stamping” exercise to formally agree to corrective actions and ensure all the team agrees with the effectiveness and verification of the success of the proposed permanent corrective action.

Generally, a well-regarded approach would be for “process owners” to accept total responsibility to carry out the methods necessary to ensure corrective actions are successfully closed out. This should not follow the common trend of having a small group responsible for the corrective actions process, which inevitably leads to the responsible employee or team liaising with the process owners to find the root causes and actions needed for closure. This is a wasteful and inefficient approach, as corrective actions should be totally “managed” by the process owner or participants and updated prior to the meeting, cutting out wasteful steps in the corrective actions process.

Preventive Actions

improve-process-flow3Preventive actions differ in that they are perceived measures and safeguards to potentially avoid future adverse events that have not yet occurred, and they are a very important part of any proactive business. Many excellent quality assurance tools exist to complement this process, such as Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) and General Risk Analysis, pertaining to engineering design & development, manufacturing, health & safety, environmental, financial or other day-to-day issues.

Preventive actions are also taking place every day within a business but not necessarily recognized as being a major contributor of this process, such as:

  • Contract Reviews
  • Quotations Process
  • Supplier Selection
  • Design Review

Summary

Efficient organizations rely on corrective and preventative actions for problem solving. The applications for corrective actions are far-reaching and can affect multiple improve-process-flowfunctional units of a company. A corrective actions team should consist of members of each department or functional unit so that a cross-functional approach to solving a problem brings about a solution with consideration for all effected parts. Process owners should be those responsible for carrying out corrective actions.

When we discuss preventative actions, we are referring to action that's taken in advance of a potential problem that may arise in the future. Quality assurance tools such as FMEA and General Risk Analysis can be helpful in augmenting preventative actions.

Both corrective actions and preventive actions should be considered to help an organization recover from and steer clear of problems and improve quality and efficiency. So don’t wait! Start taking action to improve process flow today!

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