Although volume numbers in a business are easy to track, maintaining quality standards can be a more subjective matter.
In a Lean environment, quality indicators for all phases of work are established and maintained by staff.
The key to all this is determining what ‘good’ looks like, setting a standard of quality to adhere to, so that deviations from it can be identified as errors.
Having the staff determine the work quality standard has a number of benefits.
First, it encourages and empowers people working in the process to highlight errors caused by earlier activities and forms part of the feedback loop for quality improvement.
Second, when incoming work is not of a sufficient quality, the person receiving it needs to take an action to explain to the team producing the error why the work does not meet the standard and to help them determine a counter measure to correct the situation.
The quality indicators are not there to simply reject work and send it back; they are there to initiate a cross-functional conversation for improvement. Mixing the perspectives of those at different stages in the process allows both parties in the problem-solving to learn more about the other’s methods and views.
Finally, this helps everyone understand the processes before and after their own point in the process.
Standing back from the process a bit, there are other, less tangible, benefits to be had from having the staff tackle the quality issue. It creates ownership for the process from the front-line staff and encourages collaboration and creative thinking, all Lean behaviours.