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ASQ Certification
Board Puts Quality
Tools to Work
by Scott A. Laman, Elizabeth Burns and Kathy L. Lynn

he ASQ certification board recently used strongly emphasized in the quality world. J.M.

T quality tools to develop customer require-
ments during its strategic planning process.
The importance of customer satisfaction in
Juran and Blanton Godfrey call customer focus one
of the three fundamental concepts of total quality
management and add, “Companies that were suc-
strategic planning has long been, and still is, cessful in their quality initiatives made use of
numerous strategies. … These common strategies
included customer focus.”1
More recently, authors Duke Okes and Russell
In 50 Words Westcott have said, “In best-in-class organizations,
Or Less virtually every activity is undertaken with cus-
tomers’ interests in mind.”2
• During strategic planning, ASQ’s certification board Another author, Ken Imler, believes today’s suc-
developed customer requirements using basic tools. cessful companies realize business success is all
about knowing, understanding and focusing on
• The tools were suppliers, inputs, process, outputs customers. He says: “This includes identifying your
customers, which means all of your customers, both
and customers (SIPOC) and turtle diagrams and the external and internal. It is predicated on establish-
plan-do-check-act cycle. ing the customers’ needs and requirements and
then doing everything you can to not just satisfy
• The turtle diagram led to the creation of a new tool, them, but to delight them.”3
Similarly, identifying customers and their
the customer requirements octopus diagram. requirements has been a recent focus of the ASQ
certification board. The board comprises a chair
and vice chair plus other volunteers who represent

54 I MARCH 2007 I

• Global colleagues. • Product improvement • External • Excellent quality financial backing customers • Low cost and resources • Timely delivery Step 1: Step 2: Step 3: Step 4: Step 5: Gather information Have our meeting. once a month later. For action items.FIGURE 1 Generic SIPOC Diagram Suppliers Inputs Process Outputs Customers Customer requirements • Administrative • Publicizing the See steps • Promotion. including • Other active • Timeliness assistants team's efforts below innovative ways. we will hold each other accountable. supposed to. communicating the benefits of process improvement. is happening in general. We will publicize minutes on the bulletin board and via the database. QUALITY PROGRESS I MARCH 2007 I 55 . teams • Creativity • Recognition • Marketing • Creative marketing • Milestones. 2. metrics • Timeliness • Direct contact with people doing the work • Presentations • The media • Publicity for company in general • Other teams • Information about • Information about what • Employees • Honesty what they are doing. celebrations • Each other • Project closure and manager help and celebration • Understanding of how our benefit calculations ideas work benefits the company • Consultants • Ideas. best practices • Status reports • Upper • Accuracy companies • Results management • Tangible results • Performance vs. Enter team members’ names. Goal: Core value: To make process improvement integral to the way our company Speed—quick. Who we are: 3. take only action items that we personally have a vision for how to complete and ask for help if needed. 4. and do them. timely and relevant communication conducts business by raising the awareness of all employees. improve. • Job security meeting minutes and • How does it affect me? with production • Profit sharing photographs • Benefits from activity— personnel personal and company the priority • Performance award tie-in • Quality engineer • Training and control • Awareness—results. We need five people minimum to have a meeting. Regular meetings will be two weeks apart at first. Take action items Verify that we are Take action to about our make plans to from the meeting doing what we are continuously customers. and promoting Ground Rules: employee ownership and pride in its successful implementation 1. • Openness charts and lessons learned priority being • Cultural • Support for their own Mexican understanding initiatives operations • Teamwork • Management • Time for meetings. experience and • Process improvements • Manufacturing • Cost savings contacts with others management • Other local • Ideas. address needs.

Based on the diagrams. policies. An example of a SIPOC This risk based diagram starts out similar to the diagram for a generic process improvement team SIPOC and process turtle diagrams as the process. the most A standard process turtle diagram was a step in difficult task in strategic planning is getting start. which has been developed for process interests and each other. with tion that elevates this tool into something proactive a listing of the inputs to the process and their sup. customer base composed of various categories of A second tool considered was the turtle.5 of directors. metrics are listed in the mea- pliers. in the center box. based auditing. outputs and cus. the right direction for the work group. The initial steps in the development It was at the October 2005 meeting that the need of a turtle diagram parallel a SIPOC in several ways: to examine customer requirements in depth came to • The process first is described.6 tomers (SIPOC) diagram. usually consisting of four to five replaced with the more descriptive terms of steps. lowed by four categories that are different from cation board. The former “with To construct a SIPOC diagram. Then list outputs of the process. requirements came to the forefront. The “with what” and “with whom” We also identified other tasks.” the customers who receive the outputs. which also to the SIPOC in Figure 1 made this type of diagram includes the additional category of customers. followed by “enablers—what and how” and “enablers—who. but were we ready boxes describe the tools. and preventive. customers internal to ASQ. but room to ed. diagram. the diagram did not The turtle exercise demonstrated to the work completely address all the elements of the certifica.CERTIFICATION each of the certification exams. a strategic planning al requirements. The authors of this try. Then turn Risks to the process are then described. storming and discussions at the meeting was to • The process outputs and inputs are listed. However. this use a suppliers. we employed a second set of categories. an addi- your attention to the front end of the SIPOC. this one ly conducted via monthly conference calls and two addressing management responsibility in an ISO face-to-face meetings annually. procedures to begin executing? Were the selected items and and personnel that interact with the process to their tasks really the most important to implement? provide the inputs and outputs. the certification board’s 56 I MARCH 2007 I . which somewhat compatible with the purposes of our was borrowed from the SIPOC diagram. Figure 3 (p. inputs. although not light. 55). This type of diagram has been promoted by article are all members of the board.asq. The key crite- Getting Started ria in Figure 2 refer to regulatory and procedur- As the board got organized. cart before the horse. 9001 based QMS. • Metrics are introduced into a turtle diagram through the key criteria section. strategic planning. external box. quality management system (QMS) registrars4 and The board supports the ASQ staff’s certification has even appeared as a method in developing cor- offerings department and reports to the ASQ board porate QMS manuals. To further develop the informa- In beginning the process. The realization that we to list quantitative metrics used to evaluate the had not really identified our customers and their quality of the process outputs. The “how” cat- Perhaps identifying concrete objectives before exam. poses still existed. 59) is the certification The addition of a customer requirements section board’s risk based turtle diagram. process. begin with a high what. Figure 2 is an example of a turtle diagram.” “with whom” and “how” categories are level process map. usually mapped. time based on risk factors and measurements. especially in the automotive indus.” the SIPOC. surements section. One of the tasks resulting from the brain. egory further describes the techniques and ining the need for those objectives was putting the tools used to conduct the activities. is shown in Figure 1 (p. or seven. Finally. Certification board business is routine. group that the certification board services a broad tion board’s needs. the first idea was to tion. inputs and outputs are identified. including identifying strategic items. fol- “define and document the objectives of the certifi. especially if the appropriate planning tools are improve the categorization of content for its pur- not yet determined. but it may also be appropriate work group was set up. ASQ members. Often.

The QUALITY PROGRESS I MARCH 2007 I 57 . • Quality policy SOP = procedure 1012 • Quality objectives Standard • Corrective action. procedure 1004 procedure process can be defined as follows: prepare for exams. including • Internal audit quality policy • Customer specific issues • Action plans for product improvements How • Management. procedure 1003 • TS 16949 • Continuous improvement. exam developers would be highly detrimental tion exam program. This task is of the utmost to ASQ and all of the external customers. importance because exam candidates and their • The certification board strives to ensure certifi- trainers put in a great deal of time and effort to cation exams reflect the customers’ needs. FIGURE 2 Process Turtle Diagram With what • Quality policy • Business plan • Mission statement • Existing management With whom review records • Senior management • Senior management meetings • Management representative • Product realization process • Resource management process • Effectiveness and efficiency analysis Outputs Inputs • Quality policy • Corrective and preventive actions • Organizational charts • Continuous improvement • Resource allocation • Business plan • Action plans for system • Quality policy review improvements Process • Customer satisfaction metrics • Assessment of customer • Management responsibility • Regulatory requirements satisfaction reports • Quality metrics • Management review records • Status report on resources • Business plan. Any sign of a lack of due • The certification board’s intent is to oversee diligence or discrimination on the part of the and uphold the integrity of the ASQ certifica. procedure 1004 • Business objectives operating • Preventive action. SOP 550 • ISO 9001 • Internal audit. procedure 1011 Key criteria • Customer.

Prioritizing Identifying Customer Needs The second risk factor. standardization. tomers. members. relevance and clarity In developing and structuring the customer of all procedures and of the certification examina- requirement information. The turtle looked full of infor. commitment to understanding the needs of all our We were pleased to discover our initial. Internal threats include: Our strategic planning to this point had led to • Outdated procedures. by structure. In evaluating customer requirements. probability of occurrence. In addition to the information in the octopus. examples of key customers for the certi- were made. items were adequately identified and resourced. 58 I MARCH 2007 I www. For example. so the group decided to document certification board’s customers’ needs can be met customer requirements separately. Going through the strategic planning process the content of the octopus diagram was compared described in this article shows the board members’ to the previously developed strategic plan tasks. 61).org . as an initial check to ensure the correct the output of our process. it made sense at this tions themselves. brought us to in Figure 3 can be classified into internal and exter- develop what the work group calls the customer nal threats. severity As the information was can be considered by acknowledging the cus- tomers who have an effect on the quality of an out- compiled and connections put that affects several other customers. oritizing strategic plan activities. point to picture the certification board at the center These high risk areas provided guidance in pri- reaching out to all its customers rather than consid. we took a risk based approach. making the strate- er some customers more important than others. the tions were made. completion of a round of the plan and do stages of • Unclear expectations of certification board the well-known plan-do-check-act (PDCA) cycle. requirements octopus shown in Figure 4 (p. This fact. although customers. gic plan truly proactive in nature.asq. the diagram fication board therefore include each other. ASQ’s certification offerings department and ASQ’s board started to look as if it had legs. that a well-functioning team must work together To organize and prioritize the information. tomer requirements octopus suggests many of the mation. ideas were supported by the turtle and each other as customers was based on the premise octopus diagrams. At this point the work group had identified the can be addressed by considering common threads certification board’s customers but had not yet con. sions and training companies as recipients of Then. the diagram started to look as if it turtle diagram itself also provides direct informa- had legs. and to which the certification board reports. The board of directors is the entity that has top productively and sensitively within itself before level decision making authority within the society attempting to satisfy the needs of the external cus.CERTIFICATION obvious customer is the exam taker. As the information was compiled and connec. With this definition. tion regarding risk. of directors. The risks that were identified mal theme that began with the turtle. The certification offerings department includes the staff members with whom the board works in developing and maintaining certification exams. ASQ divi. the cus- sidered their needs. but the We had executed the original plan to perform sys- board also identified employers. Risk is comprised of two elements: severity and probability of occur- rence. among several customers. The important concept of considering vague. combined with the aquatic ani. tematic strategic planning.

FIGURE 3 Risk Based Turtle Diagram Enablers—what and how • Semiannual meetings Enablers—who • Monthly conference calls • ASQ board of directors • Strategic plan through • Subject matter experts certification • ASQ certification • Board subcommittees offerings department • Each exam has chair • Anyone proposing • New exam chair position a new exam • Informal communication • Workshop planning Customers • ASQ certification Inputs Outputs offerings department • Up-to-date knowledge • Policies and procedures • ASQ board of directors Process • Approvals • ASQ board of directors • Examinees • To oversee and uphold • Recommendations policies and procedures • Divisions the integrity of the • New exams • ISO 17024 for test • Division and section ASQ certification • Strategic plan development affairs councils exam program and to • Current existing exams administration (local • Employers ensure certification • Support and interaction sections and ASQ) • Current certification exams reflect the cus. current • Concepts for new holders tomers’ needs certification holders and exams • Training companies • Feedback from others other interested parties • Each other (certification board) • Subject matter experts • Marketing Measurements • Policies and procedures Risks up to date • Outdated procedures • Strategic plan executed • Unclear expectations • Participation by of board members certification board • Unsuccessful exams members • No quorum • Percentage of time • Competition from other quorum is met certification organizations • Timely launch of new • RABQSA personal programs certification • Timely approvals • Outdated body of • Growth of programs knowledge • Performance of board members (plan to work on) QUALITY PROGRESS I MARCH 2007 I 59 . with ASQ.

“The whole board is going to lowing short-term strategic tasks as priorities: benefit from these tools. the As Sally Harthun. Likewise. This guidance is critical since the board is developed an action plan. REFERENCES • Determine the ideal certification board com- position and justify the recommendation to 1. J. • Develop or revise job descriptions. note that customer constructing the turtle and octopus diagrams. an existing short-term tasks promoted effective and efficient task from the October meeting was to review and functioning of the board. in our initial brainstorming session. after Returning to the PDCA cycle. to the completion of externally driven tasks to sibilities of all board members. ment process. cycle. manager of certification offer- strategic planning work group identified the fol.” • Define and document the certification board’s Ultimately. customer satisfaction. tive use of quality tools by the ASQ certification • Determine the rules for quorum and voting board. Consequently. For example. to address any continually changing. tion and performance metrics. Interestingly. McGraw-Hill. which was basically a composed of volunteers. Periodic Review and we thought the number of members on the certifi- Cycle Completion cation board needed to be reduced.CERTIFICATION • Lack of quorum for meetings and conference offerings department staff for final approval. including proxy voting. Westcott. As a whole. certification board members • Competition from other certification organiza. 1999.M. says. The Certified Quality 60 I MARCH 2007 I www. The focus can now turn revise the current procedures to reflect the respon. within the board. calls. and its composition is modification of the strategic . ings at ASQ. Juran’s Quality the certification board and the certification Handbook. the were noticed at this point.asq. strategic plan when they had little clarity of the one of the key customers. will be improved as a result of the innova- board’s efficiency and effectiveness. we requirements and even customers may change. the work group then addressed the act stage. However. Blanton Godfrey. their personal responsibility and their re-emphasized in the revised strategic plan. The work group anticipates these diagrams will Members reviewed the diagrams to identify gaps provide long-term guidance for the certification between requirements and planned tasks and board. the cart truly was before the told the certification board that clear policies and horse when the work group expected certification procedures were important to each member as well board members to productively contribute to a as to the staff certification offerings department. Duke Okes and Russell T. so realize the most significant improvement opportu- another systematic check should be a periodic nities dealt with information management. When combined with the analysis of the cus. not review of these requirements. missed customer requirements. This task therefore was objectives. improve multicustomer satisfaction. • Review and revise current procedures to External threats include: reflect objectives and responsibilities for all • Unsuccessful exams. To complete the board restructuring. three to five key responsibilities and participa- • Outdated bodies of knowledge. the entire certification exam develop- objectives. the board decided to on the turtle and octopus diagrams and tie pursue the internal threats first because they were other strategic tasks to this requirements plan- considered a precedent to maximizing external ning. The relationships between some of the existing Great Start tasks from the October 2005 certification board The strategic planning exercise was an excellent meeting and the customer requirements octopus beginning to several of these tasks. the customer requirements octopus In a practical sense. 2. covering tions. fifth edition. performance. Juran and A. which affects so many reading this • Identify and implement improvements in the article. • Solicit input from the entire certification board tomer requirements octopus.

FIGURE 4 Customer Requirements Octopus Diagram ASQ certification Divisions offerings department ASQ certification board • Clear expectations • Clear policies and • Uphold integrity of exam program.) • Competitive advantage current state of practic in career • Ensure integrity of exam process QUALITY PROGRESS I MARCH 2007 I 61 . recertification Division Affairs Council units and enjoyment) (DAC) and Section • Good communication Affairs Council (SAC) regarding workshop • Validate professional logistics proficiency for ASQ • Ground rules and respect members at workshop • Provide certification • Feedback after workshop for specialized division • Opportunity for higher areas level volunteer work or • Ensure exam process leadership ASQ covers geographical certification and division diversity board • Offer participation in the Each other certification process to • Clear policies and qualified members procedures • Maintain certification • Job descriptions. and SAC sections • Strategic plan • Ensure that BOK • Respect for each other’s reflects the current point of view state of practice • Efficient board organization (consolidation?) Certification holders Marketing Employers • Uphold value of • Sharing of ideas with • High quality standard for Training companies certification the certification evaluating employees • Prompt communication • Opportunity to become board on possible • Standard BOK. which can be about new certifications SME customers to market to used to evaluate current and or modified BOK • Information. statistics • Quick approval of BOK potential employees • Accurate information regarding their so marketing materials • Value of certification regarding schedule and certification can be started • Ensure that certification exams content (Note: Training • Straightforward reflect quality on the job skills companies can also be certification procedure • Ensure that BOK reflects the competitors. for liaison procedures • Provide exams to respond to • Current/correct job • Clear direction markets descriptions • Approvals of new • Maintain current exam offerings • Contact names/info for programs • Communicate the value of Examinees staff and certification • Approvals of certification • Standardized exams board members revisions • Identify and implement the • Current bodies of • Liaison and exam chairs • Availability (cut score process for developing new knowledge (BOKs) • Members of division approval) exams and future economic • High level/prestigious • Approve new BOKs • Recruiting volunteers growth for certification exam offerings • Quarterly update on • Improvement ideas offerings department • Add value of ASQ exams (number who sat • Ethics problem • Continual improvement through membership for exams. process validity performance standards • Field questions for DAC and evaluations (feedback). for example) resolution strategic plan implementation • Feedback on exam • List of who passed exam • Support and backup • Strategic plan aligned with ASQ performance for recognition board of directors plans • Competitive advantage • Approve liaison and Subject matter experts (SME) in career be informed of chair • Benefit from workshops (networking.

PA. Please comment If you would like to comment on this article. SCOTT A. ASQ Quality Press. please post your remarks on the Quality Progress Discussion Board at chart for the certified quality engineer exam and is currently the chair of the certification board. Ken Imler. 6. 2006. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Oracle. He has a master’s degree in chemical engineering from Syracuse FRESH University. click. auditor.bureauveritas. Burns is a senior mem- ber of ASQ and is a certified quality engineer and process analyst.CERTIFICATION Manager Handbook. She source earned a diploma in chemistry from Ryerson University.pqsystems. LYNN is an independent process improvement and supplier management CHARTrunner is SPC software that fetches data from Excel. exporting. or pasting. You’ve really got to see it to believe it. and other databases to generate up-to-the-minute chemistry from California State University.J. He is the past exam chair for the certified reliability SPC charts engineer exam. relia- bility engineer. chair of the ASQ certification board. Download a 30-day trial at www. receiving the Certification Board Excellence Award in 2004 and 2006. importing. BVQi Training. Auditing. or e-mail them North and South America Australia and Asia Europe and Africa Call 800-777-3020 800-777-3020 03-9770-1960 01704-871465 to editor@asq.asq. Access. 5. from any data Burns Consulting in Guelph. for Arrow International Inc. Laman is a senior member of ASQ and a certified quality engineer. March 10-11. New England Wire Corp.asq. quality engineering.. Ontario. It is the only process charting software that always provides Fullerton. Get It Right: A Guide to Strategic Quality newenglandwire. 2005. Lynn is a senior member of ASQ fresh charts with no and is certified as a quality engineer.” 14th Annual Quality Audit Division Conference. Toronto. ELIZABETH BURNS is the owner of E.. Six Sigma Black Belt and quality auditor. Instantly and is now the chair for new exams. 3. Quality . “A New Risk Based Approach to Process 4. http://certification. St. Reading. second edition. 62 I MARCH 2007 I www. She is the past copying. quality manager. www. charts. SQL Server. manager and process Louis. 2001. She is past exam chair Point. ASQ Quality Press. KATHY L. Systems. LAMAN is a manager.