# Category Archives: Articles

## Articles

Our library of articles provides continuous improvement knowledge base and valuable insights for those involved in quality improvement activities, for business professionals who want to obtain better performance results, for team leaders who want to motivate their staff and increase their performance, and for students who want to increase their knowledge in quality and improvement techniques.

We hope that you find our articles helpful and informative. We would like to hear from you if there is a topic out there that we have not written about and you think we should. So please feel free to get in touch!

# Risk Analysis

Risk Analysis is a process that helps identify and assess potential threats that could affect the success of a business or project. It allows to examine the risks and includes means to measure, mitigate and control them effectively. It is part of the larger process of risk management although risk management can also refer to the process of controlling and monitoring risks. Read more »

# Matrix Diagram

A Matrix Diagram is a table that allows sets of data to be compared in order to make better decisions. It displays the existence and strength of relationship between pairs of items of two or more sets. The relationship is then indicated by a number or symbol in each cell where the two items intersect in the matrix. A matrix diagram can be used as part of other decision making tools. Cause and Effect Matrix and Quality Function Deployment are examples of tools that use the matrix diagram. Read more »

# PDCA Cycle

The PDCA Cycle is a framework for problem solving, continuous improvement and change. It is widely recognized as the basis of continually improving the quality of processes, products, and services. It is an easy to remember four logical sequence steps: Plan, Do, Check and Act. It provides a simple and structured approach for solving quality-related problems. Multiple iterations of the PDCA cycle may be necessary to solve the problem permanently and reach the ultimate goal state. Read more »

# Gantt Charts

When managing projects, large number of activities are to be controlled and completed on time. If you miss a deadline, the costs may increase considerably and you may even be penalized. A Gantt Chart is a visual representation that provides an instant overview of the status of a project. It outlines all activities involved in a project against a timescale. A basic Gantt chart simply lists what needs to be done and when. It is often used by any industry that requires project management such as: construction, telecommunications, information technology and management consulting. Read more »

# Value Stream Mapping – Page 2

A process box is used to indicate the process name and covers one area of continuous flow where products flow without being stored, queued or delayed (or without significant waiting time between steps).

Data boxes are used to carry all data related to a specific process box. Data boxes can also be used to display data and performance information related to inventory, transportation and important suppliers and customers (see below). Read more »

# Value Stream Mapping

A Value Stream Map (VSM) is a visual representation that helps to understand the flow of value in a business process as perceived by the customer. Its primary goal is to identify and eliminate waste (Muda) and make the process as close to lean as possible. It is considered as an improvement tool rather than just a definition of how the process operates or should operate. Although it is often associated with manufacturing, it can also be applied in product development and service related industries such as: healthcare, hospitality and logistics. Read more »

# Fishbone Diagram

Sometimes it is difficult to spot problems and only symptoms will be acted on leaving the real causes intact. This indicates lack of information and poor understanding of the problem and leads usually to a weak solution. A Fishbone Diagram is often used to identify and organize the potential causes of a business problem in an easy and understandable format. It is used to identify the sources of process variation which caused the problem to occur. It is called this way because of its shape that looks like a fishbone. It is also called Ishikawa Diagram and Cause and Effect Diagram. Read more »

# Prioritization Matrix

Prioritization is an essential skill that needs to be mastered to make the best use of your own and your teams time and effort. A Prioritization Matrix is a simple tool that provides a way to prioritize a diverse set of items into an order of importance. It allows the team to select the most appropriate option from several alternatives based on a predefined criteria. Read more »

# Project Charter

A Project Charter is a one page document that is used to summarize the findings of the project definition process at the very start. It clarifies the project objectives and scope, addresses the stakeholders needs, and determines the roles and responsibilities of the project team members. The information in the project charter is critical for obtaining leadership support and commitment to provide the necessary funding and resources. Once signed, it authorizes the project leader to formally implement the project and use the necessary resources and fund to make the project successful. Read more »

# Decision Balance Sheet

Sometimes when you are faced with an important decision, you spend a lot of time looking for a solution hoping to avoid making the wrong choice. One of the simplest ways to decide what to do is using the Decision Balance Sheet. It is a simple but effective decision-making method that enables the team to make more confident and balanced decisions. It uses a tabular record to represents the advantages and disadvantages of an idea or situation for the purpose of reaching to a decision quickly. This situation might be a problem that needs to be solved or a condition that needs to be changed. Read more »

# Visual Management

Visual Management is a business management technique that communicates important information in the physical workplace. It is a system of information displays, visual controls, labels and signs, color coding and other markings instead of written instructions. Lean organizations rely heavily on visual management to detect abnormalities and reinforce standards while ensuring stability and safety in the workplace. Ideally, everyone should be able to assess the status of a situation at a glance, even the casual observer. Employees also need visual displays that show what is expected from them and to keep them informed about production status and customer needs. Read more »

# Scatter Plots

Many situations require the investigating whether a relationship exists between two or more variables. A Scatter Plot is a diagram showing whether two variables are correlated or related to each other. It shows patterns in the relationship that cannot be seen by just looking at the data. It is often used as a first step in analyzing and communicating the correlation between pairs of variables before conducting advanced statistical analyses. It works with both continuous and count data. Read more »