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The "Father of Quality" - Dr. W. Edwards Deming, managing processes, operations, documentation

Updated: Aug 11, 2023

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Reading Time: 5 minutes Managing processes, operations, and documentation, was key to Deming. Dr. W. Edwards Deming was an influential management thinker, and quality management expert who emphasized the importance of being able to describe a process in his quote, "If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you're doing." This statement encapsulates the Deming philosophy on the significance of understanding, managing processes, operations, and documentation in achieving quality and efficiency in organizations.

Dr. W. Edwards Deming, often referred to as the "Father of Quality," believed that a process is the fundamental unit of work within an organization. It refers to a series of interconnected steps or activities that transform inputs into desired outputs. According to Deming, having a deep understanding of processes is essential for effective management and improvement.

When working with new Bluestreak™ customers, one of our initial inquiries is to understand their existing processes for conducting business. This essential step helps us identify areas for improvement and implement effective strategies. We often encounter two scenarios. In the first scenario, some clients impressively retrieve a comprehensive manual of operations procedures from their bookshelf. These manuals outline every process within the company, demonstrating a commendable commitment to organizing its operations. However, it is not uncommon for clients to lack clear processes or an absence of consistent practices and documentation, leading to confusion and inconsistent results.

While clients may possess a general understanding of tasks, they struggle to articulate the specific steps of the process. This inability to describe procedures serves as a red flag, signaling that the company lacks a structured and consistent approach to conducting business. Furthermore, the lack of documentation makes it difficult to analyze and identify areas for improvement.

With Deming, managing processes, operations, and documentation is again key. The consequences of undefined and undocumented processes are significant. First, valuable time is wasted. Without a clear roadmap to guide employees, they are left to rely on ad-hoc methods, resulting in inefficiencies, redundancies, and unnecessary delays. Moreover, the lack of a defined process leads to wasted effort. Employees may unknowingly perform tasks in a non-optimal manner, exerting unnecessary energy and resources. This not only hampers productivity but can also contribute to employee frustration and burnout.

More importantly, the absence of well-defined processes incurs financial losses. Inefficient and inconsistent practices can lead to errors, rework, and increased costs. Without clear process descriptions, it becomes challenging to identify bottlenecks and implement targeted enhancements. Valuable opportunities to optimize operations and drive growth are missed.

To overcome these challenges, it becomes imperative for organizations to establish well-defined processes, document them thoroughly, and regularly review and improve them. Articulating corporate processes enables knowledge transfer to others. Whether you need to delegate tasks, train new team members, or share expertise with colleagues, being able to describe processes allows others to learn and benefit from experience employees while building a foundation for sustainable growth.

The availability and implementation of documented quality procedures can vary greatly across different industries, company sizes, and organizational cultures. The extent to which companies have documented quality procedures can be influenced by several factors, including regulatory requirements and industry standards. For example, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, aerospace, and manufacturing, often have stricter regulations and standards in place that necessitate documented quality procedures due to several reasons:

Patient Safety: Documented quality procedures help ensure that processes are standardized, consistent, and follow best practices, reducing the risk of errors, adverse events, and harm to patients.

Regulatory Compliance: These industries are subject to stringent regulatory frameworks imposed by government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States. Regulatory bodies set specific requirements for quality control, manufacturing processes, record keeping, and documentation to ensure product safety, efficacy, and compliance with established standards. Documented quality procedures help companies demonstrate compliance with these regulations during inspections and audits.

Product Quality and Efficacy: Manufacturing industries, including pharmaceuticals, must maintain high product quality and efficacy. Thru Deming, managing processes, operations, documentation, and quality procedures enable companies to establish and enforce strict quality control measures throughout the production process, from raw material sourcing to final product release. These procedures ensure consistency, traceability, and adherence to quality standards, minimizing the risk of product defects, recalls, or compromised efficacy.

Supply Chain Management: The manufacturing industry often relies on complex supply chains involving multiple stakeholders. Documented quality procedures help ensure that all suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors follow standardized processes and meet quality requirements.

Risk Management: Documented quality procedures provide a structured approach to risk identification, assessment, and mitigation By documenting procedures companies can implement risk management strategies, conduct risk assessments, and establish preventive measures to minimize risks and address potential issues effectively.

A quote from Dr. W. Deming

The quote implies that if you can describe something as a process, you have the opportunity to refine and improve it. By understanding the steps and components, you can identify areas for optimization, identify inefficiencies, and drive continuous improvement.

About Bluestreak

Bluestreak™ is a fully integrated Quality Management System (QMS) and a powerful Manufacturing Execution System (MES), designed for the manufacturing environment and service-based manufacturing companies ( metal-treating/powder-coating, plating, heat-treating, forging, and metal-finishing), businesses that receive customers’ parts, perform a process (service) on them, and send those parts back to the customer). Companies need MES software tailored to specific functionality and workflow needs such as industry-specific specifications management, intuitive scheduling control for both staff and machinery maintenance, and the ability to manage work orders and track real-time data. If different work centers on the production floor aren’t “speaking” to each other via the MES, the data loses value and becomes disjointed or lost in disparate silos.

Bluestreak | Bright AM™ is a QMS + MES software solution specifically designed to manage and optimize the unique requirements of Additive Manufacturing’s production of parts and powder inventory usage.

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