Having a set of procedures written down and in place is only the very first small step down the road to a Total Quality organisation. The key to going further along this road, is to recognise that all procedures and processes can be continuously improved. The activity of continuous improvement requires the involvement of all staff, at whatever level in the organisation. In this activity nobody is exempt, least of all the Manager, who must lead by example [B-32].
Three key groups of people who need to be involved in the process; the suppliers, the R&D work group and the customer. The suppliers include those people who provide the physical materials required for the job, and those who supply the services, for instance, information services to R&D. The internal customers for work done in R&D are the business unit, marketing or manufacturing, who are also its most important suppliers, supplying the targets for its work. Additionally, they will often supply a testing and evaluation service or a resource where this work can be done. Therefore, the process used in discussions with suppliers and customers can be considered as a cyclical one, as shown in Fig B15.
The observation that the customer is directly involved with both the inputs and outputs of the R&D work group is a key one. From this observation, a significant im-
provement in the operation of R&D in the organisation can only be made with the direct involvement of the clients. The formation of joint problem solving teams is of paramount importance in this activity.
The process used for achieving continuous improvement involves the following steps:
1. Identify and define the problem area. Work closely with customers, usually for R&D, these are internal, e.g. marketing or production, but in the case of technical service they are more likely to be external, or "real customers" in the business use of the term.
2. Measure the performance. It should be obvious, to a person trained in the methodology of R&D, that there is a need to be able to measure and monitor activities, in order to be able to improve performance.
3. Develop an improved procedure. Select, either in consultation or jointly with the customer, an agreed new procedure from a list of alternatives drawn up by the Manager and the work group.
4. Implement the procedure and re-measure the performance. A figure, to be used as a measure of improvement in the performance, sufficient to justify the change in the procedure, should be agreed with the customer.
This methodology, known as the continuous improvement cycle, is shown schematically in Figure B16.
134 | 3 A Financially Sound, Healthy, Safe and Quality Environment 3.4.3
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What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.