Service quality and variation

Was just reading the book “Winning” by Jack Welch and I came across an interesting topic related to Quality management(Six Sigma). The thing that I found most interesting was the way he addressed the topic of variations in service delivery. It is something that I myself learnt after some time ago. Clients are always looking forward to working with people and organizations that will provide the product/service on schedule. The catch is really to understand that on schedule does not mean that delivering beforehand is good. It may at times be totally counter productive to complete a job before the client is expecting it. Imagine a scenario where a client is expecting a shipment on the 10th and you deliver it on the 1st. Now the client will need to make additional plans(and incur costs) for the additional storage!

The fact that most businesses today plan to hold as little inventory as possible and prefer to move according to schedule means that quality in service/product delivery is best when:
1. product/service meets or exceeds the specifications
2. delivered on the specified time
3. delivered at the right cost (this is more true where the product is a service rendered and charged on hourly basis)

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Project monitoring. Can you afford to live without it?

One of the biggest hassles for any small entrepreneur is the planning and monitoring of projects. Small business owners do not have the option of having multiple people just for the task of project management and are generally wearing too many hats themselves. The relegation of project management as a side activity can possibly have disastrous effects for a business that may only have a handful of clients. The solution lies in ways to build the project planning and monitoring tasks into the work system. It is not necessary to utilize state of the art technology to do the job (although that would ofcourse be a big help). A job card for every vehicle at a garage is as good a project planning and monitoring system as a fancy software solution.

The key is to ensure:
1. Tasks are listed in order that they are to be executed.
2. Approximate time is listed with each task. For routine tasks this should be a known value but for new tasks any good estimate is ok.
3. People are made aware of the tasks that they are to perform.
4. Cancel out tasks that are done.

This is ofcourse the most bare bones project monitoring system and leaves a lot to be answered and future posts will try to focus on ways that this important activity.