Petroleum products and supply chains possess the potential for failure at every stage of development. When new products are being launched, mitigation of these mishaps depends on quality protection control flows already in place. In this post we examine the Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) method for creating a structured process for ensuring customer satisfaction and better products.
Customer Needs Come First
Consultants commonly use customer stats and profiling techniques to determine how their needs translate into product characteristics/requirements, and before APQP can be implemented, these needs are identification goal #1. With a new focus on sustainability and industry wide collaboration, customer specifications will steer the product development process clear of too much indecision and mistakes along the supply chain path. Don't hesitate to use customer feedback and validation to complete design reviews as well.
These methods have been around for decades, under the name advanced quality planning (AQP). This process can enhance product planning efforts, making the primary goal of product quality planning collaboration and communication between different engineering teams. This interaction will rely on a Cross Functional Team (CFT) planning that combines marketing, procurement, product review, manufacturing and distribution expertise to create a quality product.
Design within process capabilities. The first several sections of APQP mandate intense planning and prevention objectives, making up 80% of the APQP process. It is in this way that the APQP process supports the never ending pursuit of consistent improvement. The fourth and fifth parts, support the remaining 20% of APQP and focus on validation and evidence.
One of the key advantages of APQP is identification of change early on the in process and avoidance of late changes. Design reviews are formal reviews conducted during the development of a product to assure that the needs, concepts, and product process satisfies the requirements of that stage of development.
For more information on how Accupoint can improve your product quality planning process, contact us today.
Contract management and review are important, and often neglected disciplines. According to research done by the independent International Association for Contract & Commercial Management, good contract management practices could improve profit by 9% of annual revenue. Contracts can leak, costing money through outdated pricing, or misunderstandings and breakdowns in communication that lead to losses.
Contract review is the process for determining customer requirements prior to the supply of a product, and proof that the organization has the ability to meet the defined requirements. Contract review should be part of your company's business management. Attention must be paid to the requirements related to products, supply and management of information. Your company will determine the specific needs of the customer including delivery and post-delivery activities, such as warranty and maintenance services. You also need to consider requirements that are not explicitly stated by the customer, but are still necessary. You need to know any regulatory requirements that apply to the product.
Before your company commits to a contact or order, or any changes to existing contracts you need to consider several factors including:
Communication is also critical to success. You will need to determine effective means of communication in relation to product information, contracts, order handling, feedback and complaints. This is all part of your customer relations management processes and determining customer requirements. If contract review is ever done offsite, you need to link the activities to your on-site quality management system.
You must conduct risk analysis before committing to a contract. Consider whether taking on additional obligations will affect your supply chain, for example. Manufacturing risk analysis will help you assess your ability to effectively provide the specified product. Do you have the resources needed to fulfill the obligations? Can you meet timing demands? Are there additional developments costs and investments? Look at potential failures in processes, including suppliers. Is there solid potential for increased profits? Considering all of these factors will allow you to enter into contracts that are efficient and effective, which is good for your bottom line.
For more information on how Accupoint can help improve your contact review process, contact us today.
Securing materials and equipment is the first step in the supply chain. A company's competitiveness is directly influenced by the performance of suppliers. A supplier that does not perform well can add costs, cause serious delays and can damage your company's reputation. It is imperative to have a system to evaluate your suppliers. It will help you determine potential problems like low standards of quality, poor communication, and substandard resources. Every company needs to have a supplier evaluation model in place to measure a supplier's ability to comply with their contractual obligations.
Supplier evaluation will identify their strengths and weaknesses. Several criteria should be considered including quality, delivery, service, and flexibility. Generally, the most important factor is quality followed by delivery, service and then flexibility. An effective means of evaluating suppliers is assigning them to one of four categories based on performance: full partner, associate partner, high risk and incapable. A full partner meets or exceeds all expectations. An associate partner needs some work, but performs well overall. A high risk supplier must be carefully evaluated. They can be used for the production currently underway, but future contracts require consideration. An incapable supplier will be dropped as soon as possible as they cannot properly fulfill their obligations.
A full partner must be compatible with you company’s current and future business plan. They will always demonstrate high quality, on-time delivery, superior service and flexibility. The supplier participates in your automatic ordering system. They will provide full support quickly, and be available anytime for questions. A full partner should also assist with new designs and provide samples within one to two weeks. They will demonstrate an ability to develop new processes and be committed to research and development. They will not ship out-of-spec parts, and have well documented quality controls. They will optimize lead times and allow order flexibility within reason. They will show commitment to cost reductions and share their cost structures and pricing models.
An associate partner will meet most of the criteria of a full partner. The associate partner should demonstrate a commitment to improving quality and delivery. You can work with them to develop action plans to meet your goals. The supplier must fulfill the needs of your company. They should be willing to work toward meeting the criteria to become a full partner.
High Risk Partner
A high risk partner is not compatible with the goals of your company. Their current quality and delivery are acceptable to maintain current production, but there is no benefit in expending the resources to bring them to associate or full partner status. The cost and quality are below your company’s acceptable standards.
Incapable suppliers do not meet quality standards. They do not demonstrate the capability of improving quality, delivery, service or flexibility. These suppliers must be dropped immediately.
Evaluating the performance of suppliers using an Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) model helps to determine the importance of each criterion and interpret the findings. You will determine what is most important for your company, and use that to rate your suppliers. Supplier can be measured based on the four main criteria: quality, delivery, service and flexibility. To determine the rest of the criterion you should consider whether the attributes are “soft” criteria (like supplier commitment or service) or “hard” quantifiable criteria (like the supplier's ability to fulfill orders). When thinking about cost, consider that the total cost of a product includes all the factors that go into getting your product to market in addition to its initial procurement cost.
For further information on how Accupoint can help your critical supplier management process, contact us today.
Key performance indicators, or KPIs, are a useful to way to determine the effectiveness of your team or company in its efforts to meet performance objectives. When establishing KPIs, it's important to understand exactly what would indicate success for your team, and whether or not it is measurable. Here are four KPI Metrics Measurement Fundamentals to consider.
Is it specific to your team and to your stakeholders?
A useful KPI targets a goal that your team has control over, and an outcome that your stakeholders desire. If you're managing a quality control laboratory, you likely wouldn't want to set a KPI dependent on the overall company's ROI. This is outside of your team's direct control, and it doesn't apply directly to your primary stakeholders.
Instead, ask yourself, what indicates my team is performing successfully, and what do our stakeholders care about. In a quality control laboratory, this might be number of tests run per day, or perhaps target turnaround times for each sample received.
Does it motivate or discourage?
Think of a KPI as a realistic stretch goal, not unrealistic perfection.
Improving customer satisfaction by 3% is likely doable. Requiring turnaround times under 24 hours for a 48 hour test is not.
What you set as a KPI directly impacts your team members and your stakeholders. It's up to you to set realistic, meaningful targets, and to frame it in a way that motivates instead of discourages.
How will the KPI be measured?
A KPI is only useful if there is a system in place to measure it. If you're targeting customer satisfaction, are you already sending out customer surveys? And do you have a baseline number to work from?
Or, if you're interested in setting turnaround times as your KPI, how will this be measured? Is there already a software system in place? Do you, your team, and your customers have a common understanding of what a satisfactory turnaround time would be? What will the dashboard for the KPI look like, and how will results be communicated?
What do you hope to learn or improve by measuring this KPI?
KPIs are not only an opportunity to determine how effective your team is, they're also a way to determine opportunities for improvement and growth. When setting a KPI, ask yourself what might need to change in order to succeed, and what needs to change if you're unsuccessful. These could be things like processes, improvements in communication, or streamlining sample processing. Who will make these changes, and when?
Selecting and measuring effective KPIs is an important way to ensure team success and client satisfaction. Please contact us to find out how we can help you track your targets. We look forward to hearing from you!
Process excellence and quality management systems have the power to transform entire organizations into lean, highly efficient cash flow machines that exceed customer expectations. While quality management systems, including API Spec Q1 or API Spec Q2, comprise different tiers and tools there are common methodologies for monitoring and improving quality within companies. Two common tools include standard operating instructions and quality auditing.
Standard Operating Instructions
Standardizing processes and systems is a critical step in quality assurance and enhancing operational efficiency. After benchmarking a process, the next step is to measure, analyze and improve it, leading to benefits for employees, customers and businesses. Writing a standard operating instruction is part of standardizing a process, so that subject matter experts along with management can analyze and improve it. These written instructions are either detailed or in an outline form, depending on the needs of employees and management.
Product, process and system audits improve the way individuals and teams function within organizations. These audits examine what the ideal process or system is relative to current state operations. This element of a quality management system is also closely tied with corrective action requests, which take a systematic approach to identifying and solving operational deficiencies. Independent audits related to efficiency and effectiveness have the power to drive quality and innovation in functional departments across organizations.
For additional information on quality management systems and the power of process excellence to improve your business, please contact us today. System optimization can take your business to the next level, with the proper planning and professional support.
An internal quality audit is folded into a company’s corrective and preventative practices. The audit takes a snap shot of the organization’s compliance procedures, and then analyzes that snapshot to identify potential problems. In the oil and gas industry, internal audits are an integral part of the quality management system.
To that end we have outlined 5 key steps to ensure that your internal audit process is effective:
Oil and gas concerns are usually multi-state and multi-location enterprises with hundreds, if not thousands of employees. The compliance audits for the oil and gas industries are exhaustive and complex. Effectively managing the audit function will ensure compliance to customer requirements, as well as related regulations and standards. For more information on how Accupoint Software can help improve your internal audit process, please contact us.
A well-designed continual improvement program is the key to a company’s growth within the petroleum industry. In addition to providing the framework for attaining the highest quality of product and service, a continual improvement program helps petroleum companies target inefficiencies and reduce waste. The result is a company that has the resources to weather challenging market conditions and thrive in favorable markets. Below is a look at 10 elements of effective continual improvement programs.
Seeking the Guidance of an Expert in Continual Improvement
Not all continual improvement programs are created equal. The best way for you to design a sound continual improvement program is to enlist the expertise of an industry expert. Accupoint Software has been facilitating continual quality programs for companies in the petroleum industry for nearly a decade. Please contact us to learn how we can help you launch an effective continual improvement program. We look forward to hearing from you!
Making better use of existing technology can deliver serious returns—by increasing production, streamlining the supply chain, or reducing engineering time. To read the balance of this great McKinsey & Company article by Richard Ward, click here.
Although quality management systems have been around for over sixty years, some companies are more serious about quality management than others. This is evidenced by the continued high amount of recalls in various industries. In order to do more than just claim to have a quality management system, it is vital that a company empowers every worker at every phase of the operation to have a part in making the system better and contribute to improvements.
Properly training and motivating the workforce becomes a self-fulfilling task. As workers continue to be included in the quality process and receive continued training, they begin to feel more motivated and empowered as an integral part of the operation. When they know their voices and contributions are heard, they then will take a more hands-on approach in making sure that the products and services are at the highest quality.
Empowered and engaged workers lead to high morale and the process continues to feed and grow throughout the entire company resulting in benefits for the company, the customer, as well as the workers themselves.
For more information on how Accupoint Software can facilitate this team empowerment, call us at 800.563.6250 or visit us on the web at www.accupointsoftware.com
The API Spec Q2 standard requires that service supply organizations monitor customer satisfaction. Specifically, Section 6.2.1 states:
“The organization shall maintain a documented procedure to monitor customer satisfaction. The procedure shall address customer feedback, key performance indicators (KPIs), and other information that the organization monitors to determine whether the organization has met customer requirements. Records of the results of customer satisfaction information shall be maintained.”
With this in mind, here are five best practices to consider when creating your satisfaction survey:
on and analyzed.
into groups with similar characteristics will highlight trends that may not otherwise
Understand that to effectively measure customer satisfaction, you must evaluate more than whether the customer is satisfied. Best practice dictates that we evaluate the satisfaction level throughout the interaction process and, more importantly that we survey appropriate personnel that have first-hand knowledge of our performance. Remember that the ultimate goal of measuring customer satisfaction is to facilitate customer retention and referrals, leading to long term growth.
For more information on how Accupoint can help you streamline your Customer Satisfaction process, pleasecall us tool free at 800.563.6250.