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March 26, 2011

There are a wide range of quality improvement tools and techniques, below are a list of some of them. We will be touching on all of these in this blog. At the end of this blog are links that will take you to free downloadable excel templates for many of these tools.

  • PDCA Plan Do Check Act
  • DMAIC Define Measure Analyze Improve Control
  • SIPOC Suppliers, Input, Process, Outputs, Customers
  • KISS Keep It Simple Stupid
  • SMART (Metrics) Specific Measureable Accountable Realistic Time related
  • SWOT (Strategic evaluation) Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats
  • PESTL (Strategic impacts) Political Environmental Social Technological Legal
  • National Housing Quality Award NHQA
  • Organizational Self-assessment
  • Quality Management Systems
  • Flowcharting (Process Mapping)
  • Cause and Effect (Fishbone) Charts
  • Force field diagrams
  • Mind Mapping
  • Basic charts, histograms, run charts, check sheets, pareto diagrams
  • Kan Ban
  • Poke Yoke
  • Kaizen Blitz
  • Audits
  • Preventive Maintenance
  • Benchmarking (metrics) and Benchmarking Relationships
  • 8D
  • 5S Sort Straighten Shine Standardize Sustain
  • A3
  • Voting scoring tools
  • Corrective & Preventive action
  • Voice of the Customer
  • Value Stream Mapping
  • Reduction of waste (MUDA)
  • Idea generation
  • Customer Satisfaction and surveys
  • Employee Satisfaction and surveys
  • Partner Satisfaction and surveys
  • Supplier (plant) evaluation
  • Reward & Recognition
  • Change Concepts
  • Theory of Constraints


Flowcharts are a particularly powerful, yet simple tool for process improvement. The simplest type is simply to use boxes to represent steps in a process like in the diagram below. Create a ‘as is’ good, bad and the ugly process map of a key current process you want to improve. Ensure you place a time in days or hours of how long each step takes. Then create a new and improved version. Focus on reducing steps, creating concurrent work for example. Ensure you have a representative from all involved in the process to ensure the maps are accurate and that everyone had input into change and improvement!

To make a more complex process map each step or box can represent a particular aspect of a process as shown in this diagram.



If you want to create your own process maps or flowcharts use this link to get a free downloadable excel template for flowcharts


Other free downloadable templates in excel for tools are available via this link


Basic quality concepts


Process view of work links to books etc


Two other websites to look at for more information on quality are

NAHB Research Center, Builder and Trade Quality Certification


The American Society for Quality (ASQ)



NEXT TIME, Part 3 Recommended Improvement Books

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Written By

Denis Leonard has a degree in construction engineering, and an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. in quality management. He is a Fellow of the American Society for Quality and has been an Examiner for the Baldrige National Quality Award Board of Examiners, a Judge on the International Team Excellence Competition, and a Lead Judge on the National Housing Quality Award. He has experience as a quality manager in the home building industry as well as construction engineer, site manager, and in training, auditing, and consulting with expertise in strategic and operational quality improvement initiatives. His work has achieved national quality, environmental, and safety management awards for clients. 

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