Today we begin a new series of articles related to our journey to reach a Six Sigma quality level. We are calling the series “Pursuit of Perfection,” and we plan to use this series to highlight aspects of business that impact the quality of the product we deliver to our Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) clients.
Originally developed as a way to improve quality in manufacturing, Six Sigma is now embraced across many industries. It is a highly structured method for defining and measuring quality, identifying and removing the causes of defects (or errors), and controlling process variance. Six Sigma says if you can measure how many defects you have in a process, you can then systematically determine how to eliminate them and get as close to zero defects as possible.
Here at Wholesale Screening Solutions, we have embraced the Six Sigma methodology as a structure and guidepost for our quality programs. We see every defect as an opportunity to improve our processes and provide a better experience for clients and candidates.
In line with Six Sigma thinking, we have implemented a defect tracking and response process that includes these key aspects:
1. Identify the Defect
The first and most obvious step in defect tracking and response is to identify the defect. This means, when an error happens, it is discovered and reported. Whether the defect is reported by a customer, identified through an internal audit, or self-reported by a researcher, we have to make sure the channels are open for defects to be brought forward.
2. Capture Information
Every defect identified is captured by a defect tracking form, which is completed by a research supervisor and the researcher who was responsible for the defect. The tracking form provides a detailed explanation of the defect and how it occurred. It is shared internally and with the client to bring full transparency into our process and root cause.
3. Identify Corrective Actions and Preventive Measures
Often, the person closest to where an error occurs is the best person to come up with the solution to prevent the defect from occurring again. We find it incredibly valuable and important to engage the research team in corrective actions and preventive measures. That’s why our defect tracking form addresses possible solutions to ensure the defect is not repeated. These solutions are presented to the research director and put into action through process improvement and training. All defect tracking forms are reviewed by our quality team with metrics provided daily to the executive team for further accountability.
4. Did It Work?
Once a corrective action is in place, our quality team keeps a careful eye on the effectiveness of the corrective action. Sign-off occurs between the researcher, supervisor, and director before being sent back to the quality team, client services, and finally the client to close the loop.
Defects are hard to swallow but they are a reality of even Six Sigma level organizations. In our quest for perfection, we will never take a defect easily, but we will use them as opportunities to improve. Follow our quality story online, where we publish year-to-date quality numbers monthly.