By: Paul Van Metre

In a recent blog post, I wrote about what to do when you have rejected parts from a customer. From the customer's perspective, it’s all in the response and how you handle the situation and provide them with confidence that it won’t happen again. Internally, this is just as important. If you’re quick to assign blame and point fingers to an individual when a failure happens, then you’re missing out on an amazing opportunity to build up your team, rather than tearing them down. Whether a failure gets to the customer or not, the learning opportunity is the same, it’s the process that needs improving and is the only way that long-term improvement will take place! That responsibility for process improvement lands squarely on the shoulders of the leadership of the company. The buck stops at the top always!

Process Failures

With relatively few exceptions, employees are there at work to do a great job and try their best every day. To achieve those great results, employees should be following the company processes and systems that have been put in place to ensure the results are as repeatable as possible. If the results are not good enough, then one of the following might be the problem.

Process Failure Example

Let’s use the example of preparing all the quality documentation for a shipment. Many clients need a formal FAI like an AS9102 report, any-and-all related certifications that have come with materials and special processes, and possibly a balloon-tagged copy of the drawing. If a client receives a shipment without all the necessary paperwork, then it’s likely because the employee who prepared the document package either wasn’t certain exactly what paperwork was required by this specific client, or when they went to gather the documentation, it wasn’t readily available. In either case, it’s the process that needs to be made more robust, or better training is needed (which is also a failure in the process). Lack of clarity in what an employee needs to do is a failure of the systems of the organization - in this case, possibly the employee didn’t know what paperwork to send. When there is abundant clarity but the result is still not up to standard, then that is the failure of the system as well - in this case, possibly the employee knew what paperwork to send but it wasn’t available to them.

Tribal Knowledge Failures

Most companies are rife with tribal knowledge. This is information that is necessary for managing the company, the jobs, client requirements, and more that is not captured in a systematic and scalable manner. The fact that this information resides in people’s heads, sticky notes, personal documents or spreadsheets, will lead to certain failures on a frequent and ongoing basis. How often have you had failures because an employee is covering for someone on vacation or sick leave? If you’re like most shops, it happens all the time. These failures of tribal knowledge could fall under all 3 of the categories above. Often these failures can be attributed to bad tools, like software, which aren’t well suited to the task at hand and lack features to be able to capture all the relevant information and share it with the right people at the right time. If you research a recent failure in your company and get to the root cause, it will often lead to discovering that the software and systems you’re using lack the ability to properly handle your needs.

Summary

Remember that most employees care deeply about doing a great job. They try their best given the tools, processes, and systems they’ve been offered by the company. They don’t intend to make mistakes or cause failures. So when they inevitably do happen, take a deep breath, talk through the details and be curious about getting to the root cause of the system or process failure. Doing this with grace, understanding, humility, and kindness will ensure that you can turn those mistakes into stronger connections with your team, and improvements in the process. That’s a formula for long-term success!

How Can ProShop Help?

Most manufacturers who use an ERP system, are using one with a strong foundation in accounting, but that often lacks the features and capabilities to successfully manage the manufacturing process well enough. If the system relies on paper travelers, that alone is a prime indication that it’ll be insufficient to manage all the requirements that can result in failures of the process with quality, customer flowdowns, inspection requirements, etc. In the example above with the AS9102 report, all the proper documentation requirements are configured at the customer profile in ProShop, and then automatically flowed down to all client work orders. So preparing a perfect document package is as simple as clicking a single button and every relevant FAI (for multi-level BOMs), all certs, a copy of the balloon tagged drawing, and a perfectly formatted Certificate of Conformance will be generated automatically. This is just one example of how we develop rock-solid workflows and processes that dramatically reduce the chance of failures in the process.

When a shop is fully implemented with ProShop, the typical stressful rush of reactive fire-fighting which often leads to mistakes is replaced with calm, stress-free, proactive workflows, with all the important details and information at everyone’s fingertips. If that sounds appealing to you, book a demo with our team today!

By: ProShop Team Memeber

If a company is still thinking of the people who make the wheels turn in the institution as a resource, then it is no surprise that most times you end up with lukewarm water. Certainly, people are a resource of sorts, they make the decisions, complete tasks, and pour their creativity and expertise into your organization. Unfortunately, when a company only sees people as a resource like inventory, this removes the human ingenuity element from the equation and leads an institution into the murky and tepid waters of a swamp infested with pests. People are not just resources, they bring resources, they are complex beings that have a myriad of unique potentials which benefit those they work for across many situations. Limiting the scope of organizational perception to humans as a resource results all too often in a predicament similar to trying to herd cats. Those employees you want flit, dodge, and evade capture, while the ones you could take, or leave are all too happy to fill your halls and advance themselves ultimately leading to a lack of genius and creative spark necessary for the growth of your organization. If a company wants to attract the best talent, then consider pitching resources as a theme and adding culture to your vernacular. 

No employee ever said, “I want to work for ABC Company because Human Resources hands out apples on Fridays!”

There are three simple (but at the same time subtle) things that every human being, from the simplest to the most complex, needs to fulfill their own psychological needs. When these three concepts are found a person is balanced, determined, and motivated. Imagine a culture where all the talented individuals no matter how simple their task had a powerhouse of well-being and stability in their lives. The successful possibilities are endless. A company that wants to be successful must have human beings full of these three things to build teams that reach their highest potential together.

Richard Ryan and Edward Deci brought to the table the concept of Self-Determination Theory. In their research across global populations, they have uncovered the three absolute needs of every person required for those persons to be the most productive self-propelled individuals to grace a company. A human being who feels connected, competent, and autonomous has the ingredients to build a culture and a world well there is no limit to the potentials that can be discovered. They have psychological well-being (Ryan & Deci 2006).

An employee who cannot find psychological health is not productive, has limited vision, lacks creativity, and will stagnate. Organizations who can look at their own mission statements with an eye for humanity, and honestly analyze the culture they present to the potential recruits have a chance of incorporating these concepts into their overall vision which will spill over into the mass of humanity attracting the best applicants.  A company cannot shift the perception of job seekers until they shift their own perception about themselves as an organization. 

The more authentic the people of the company are the more attractive the company will be to those with similar mindsets. The US Department of Labor reports that companies are describing a lack of soft skills in potential employees. It is the astute business that also realizes the culture they promote becomes the soft skills of the organization itself and with this knowledge can create a fertile field for recruitment, or the company can return to how they have always done it and produce that tepid swamp of human resources. 

Reference: (2006, 2021), Ryan R. & Deci E. Center for Self-Determination Theory. Retrieved 25 July 2021 from, https://selfdeterminationtheory.org/theory/ 

By: Paul Van Metre

Your company tries SO hard to make everything perfect, but occasionally, something slips through the cracks, and you send some parts to a customer that get rejected.  It’s not a fun situation, and it can be like a gut punch, depending on how expensive the mistake is.  How you handle it from the customer’s perspective can make all the difference and even potentially turn a bad situation into a positive experience.  Customers know that mistakes will happen, but how a vendor responds to them can put your relationship on the chopping block, or solidify your position in the partner category.

  1. Immediately apologize! - A heartfelt and unconditional apology is the first step. Let them know you take it seriously, you understand it impacts their business, you’ll figure out what happened, and you’ll make it right as fast as possible. The first response can tell volumes about your commitment to client satisfaction. Then provide them with an RMA (Return Material Authorization) number to track the parts back.  And offer to pay the shipping costs if they don’t request it.
  2. Ask for more information - Ask what kind of recovery they need.  What specifically is wrong with the parts? How did they inspect or catch the mistake? Ask for photos of the pats, their receiving inspection report, or any other information they can provide. Ask what they would like to have done. Maybe the parts can be reworked, or a partial delivery will suffice. When are they needed? The more information you have the better you can respond to their needs. Lastly, ask them about their requested accounting. Do they want a credit and re-bill, or no credit and no re-bill or something else?
  3. Research - Even before getting the parts back, you can dig into the details of what happened in your shop.  Start with seeing if you have any inventory or overruns from that specific work order. You’ll need to purge any bad inventory anyway, and it can give you immediate insight into the problem. If you don’t have extras, pull up the model and drawing that were used to program and inspect the parts. Look at the work order records to see who set up the job, who made the parts, who inspected the parts, etc..  Look at the inspection records of the FAI and in-process inspection results. Look at the calibration records of the instruments you inspected.  These are all possible keys to understanding the issue. By digging into your records, you’ll likely figure out what went wrong and what you need to do to fix the issue right away.  
  4. Confirm The Details - When the parts get back into your hands, you should carefully look over them to make sure you agree with your customer’s assessment of the problem.  Sometimes the parts are perfectly fine, but their inspection method wasn’t correct or is just different from yours.  This can be a tricky situation, but with clear communication with your client, you should be able to work through it. (ProShop Tip: Look over the machining marks or other visual indicators of manufacturing the process very carefully. At our shop, we occasionally had clients try to reject parts that we didn’t make! We could tell by the machine marks that they were not from our shop.  Then you have a really touchy situation because you may need to call out your client for having bad traceability at the best, and pulling one over on you at the worst.)
  5. .Execute Your Plan - Assuming that the parts are yours, and are indeed bad you need to respond quickly. Based on the prior steps you may have already ordered new raw materials by now and your plan is well underway.  If you haven’t kicked the plan into gear already, do so now and provide them with a detailed status of what is happening and when you can get them good parts back. Depending on the severity of the schedule impact to your customer, you may need to pay overtime to get it through the shop faster, to expedite the job for outside processes. Let your client know what you’re doing to recover and when they will get the parts back.  Provide ample communication and status updates - it will help them be informed to make decisions on their end and bolster their confidence in your recovery.
  6. Learn From Your Mistakes  - When the immediate rush is over, take the time to understand what went wrong and what you can do to eliminate the chance of that problem happening again in the future. Provide your client with a CAR (Corrective Action Request) plan, even if they didn’t request one of you formally.  Just like the importance of the first initial apology, this last step can help them to feel confident in continuing to work with you as a supplier.

By responding to a mistake positively, it’s possible to take a negative situation and squeeze some good out of it. The key is owning the mistake and doing whatever it takes to make it right and letting your customer know what you’re doing at every step.  If a customer doesn't appreciate it then they probably aren’t a great long-term customer for you. Those that do are going to be good clients in the long run.

How Can ProShop Help?

ProShop has countless tools to help you solve the problem in the first place and dramatically reduce the chance of a problem happening in the first place.  From our solid and tight document control and automated archiving of old prints to our customizable checklists to ensure you never miss a step, or to our integrated inspection capabilities so you can ensure your parts are perfectly intolerance, and to our built-in calibration tracking, and so much more!

If you still do have a rejection from the client, with 1 click you can issue an RMA from a WO which instantly pulls all the metadata from the job, ties it to all pertinent records (client, PO number, Part Number, and name, WO number, revision, etc. and allows a highly efficient and auditable process of documenting the NCR, any Corrective Actions needed, dispositions, cause codes, improvement suggestions and much more. Without printing a single piece of paper too! Watch our video on going paperless!!

You can then just as easily issue a new work order, rework orders, see where it fits in the schedule and immediately give you client status on your recovery actions.  Then at the end, you can email them a copy of the Corrective Action so that they can see you are serious about your improvement activities! There has never been a more efficient and cost-effective way to manage quality. The average client that has a quality manager says they save on average, about 50% of the quality manager's time! The time that can be better spent on improvement activities and eliminating scrap from happening in the first place. We can’t think of a better way to spend your QA time than that!

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