Questions That Help You Create a Better Process

Asking the right questions when reviewing your processes and documentation can help you create betters processes. What should you ask, and when should you ask them?

1. When creating a flow chart or activity network diagram, ask which steps could be eliminated or done simultaneously.
2. When reviewing the critical path, as what you can do to shorten it. And can you reduce the schedule variability on the critical path so that it is less likely to result in critical delays?
3. When running brainstorm sessions, ask who needs to be there to generate ideas, who should be excluded because they shut idea generators down and who could be invited to create a cross-pollination of ideas.
4. When creating cause and effect diagrams, ask what root causes have quick fixes in addition to the most severe or costly root causes to minimize. Fixing a few small root causes while tackling the big ones is a small increase in effort while improving the underlying process.
5. When reviewing check sheets, ask which check list items that are redundant or no longer needed.
6. When reviewing your defect cause codes or proposed new ones, ask if these cause codes can be consolidated or eliminated. This will speed up root causes analysis in the future, though it may require back coding of prior defect analysis reports.
7. When reviewing your process documents, ask which warnings and notes are redundant and can be removed to speed up reading time by operators. Ask operators which reference documents they keep going to read, and add those links or sheets to your procedure documents.
8. Ask your engineers which decision points can be automated to reduce the demand on operators and quality control staff, such as automated inspection stations.
9. When reviewing your document archives or archived data, ask if you can alter the schedule in a way that is more efficient. Can you shred items more often to save space? Can you archive data less often to save time or automate the process? Are you regularly unarchiving documents or data due to internal or external customer demand? If so, what should you exclude from the conventional unarchiving process to keep data available to customers? Just as the most commonly used tools should be front and center, regularly accessed information should be readily available.
10. When reviewing control charts, ask if your shop floor employees know when to call in the quality engineer before the line goes too far out of spec.