Quality management program development in a U.S. private industry

Cotton, Frank E.
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Honolulu : East-West Resource Systems Institute
This case deals with the development and implementation of a quality management control system in the Telecommunications Division of a Southern-based telephone equipment manufacturing company in the U.S.A. The plant assembled hand-set telephones through mass-production lines but had a relatively ineffective quality control program. The plant management therefore wanted to develop a system that would not only guarantee cost-effective quality but would also pinpoint when and where errors in production occurred. To achieve these objectives, a project team consisting of a private consultant, the manager of the Engineering Department, the manager of the Quality Control Department, and a quality control analyst was formed.<br> The project team concentrated first on developing quality control procedures that would satisfy all objectives and at the same time be feasible in the mass production environment. Brainstorming sessions and group meetings were held with supervisors, workers, and division managers, both to gain their approval and inputs and to make sure that the program would not interfere with ongoing work procedures. When all personnel were satisfied with the program, a pilot test was initiated, using representative sections of the plant. When these tests proved extremely successful, the project team decided to use the test results to convince the plant manager to trial-test the program for the assembly section. After receiving his approval, the project team tested the program for a two-month period with successful results. The quality control program was then implemented on a permanent basis in the assembly section and was adapted as well to the fabrications section of the plant.<br> The case illustrates how a private consultant coordinated all elements of the plant management in implementing the program. It further shows how planning and pretesting were aided by an open, participatory style of communication. The case not only provides substantive information about the development and implementation of a quality control system but also demonstrates the values of using a systematic approach to project management.
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