Saturday, January 19, 2013

Quality: Ability to meet unknown expectations

Traditional quality definition is the ability to meet customer expectations.  It no longer is always true.  Paul in his blog post discusses about one of the fundamental concepts of quality - definition of quality.

I as a customer have no clue about the new features that will come as part of the new Apple iPhone version 6 and above or in the Samsung Galaxy S4 or Note 3 and above.  But these new features amaze me, as a customer, to say - Oh! This is exactly what I was looking for!

So modern quality definition has to be tweaked to something like this - Ability to meet customers' unknown expectations!

I would invite you to read this interview of Steve Jobs with the Inc. Magazine on 1st April 1989.   Jobs then said, "You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new".  So, it is very important to deliver the novel needs of the customer on time.

Innovation, Novelty, ability to Predict customer needs and the Agility to deliver these needs on time will be the key ingredient of the definition of modern quality.

Use 5S to organize data space in your computer

Marrying best practices from the mechanical industry is a trend in the Information Technology (IT) industry.  For example: Quality tools and framework such as Six Sigma, Lean, ISO and Statistical Process control tools are used by today's software professionals.

5S (Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain) is a method used by quality professionals to organize their workplace, predominantly in the mechanical industry. 5S method stresses on a simple concept - A place for everything, and everything in its place.  Can't this be implemented in the IT industry to organize the computer system's files and folders?  I believe that we can. 

Let us see how 5S can improve storage and retrieval of data in a computer:

Seiri or Sort: Only store important files in your computer.  Create folders and sub-folders to organize important data.  Name folders and files appropriately for easy retrieval.  Create one folder named, say, "Trash" to store temporary data.  Clear the contents of "Trash" folder regularly, if possible, on a daily basis. 

Seiton or Set in Order: Ensure easy retrieval of data.  Create only 2 main folders - one for storing data for frequent use and the other for rare use.  Create multiple sub-folders to store a particular type of data.  Limit sub-folders at the next 3 sub-levels to less than 5.

Seiso or Shine: Clean-up unnecessary data in regular intervals.  Once in every 2 weeks, scan through the folders and sub-folders to clean-up unnecessary or unused files and folders.

Seiketsu or Standardize: Integrate storage, retrieval and clean up tasks to create a unified process.  Create a habit to 100% follow the above 3Ss.  Create a version controlled process document that details naming, structuring and maintenance schedule of files and folders which can serve as a reference document.  Share this document with peers. 

Shitsuke or Sustain: Track and monitor to adherence to the above 4Ss by self and peers.  Conduct monthly audits (self and for peers) to ensure that the set procedures are followed diligently.  Document and publish the hard disk space usage data on a weekly basis.

5S can serve a handy tool for efficient data management of files and folders created and stored by user(s).  With the use of computer's "Data Cleanup" and "De-fragmentation" tools, system and other unnecessary temporary files and folders can be cleaned-up. 

This article focused on applying 5S to a simple files and folders system in a computer.  World is moving towards cloud based systems.  Local storage will disappear in future days.  With all sorts of new changes, files and folders system management will become more complicated in future.  Quality methods like 5S will prove to be useful to manage tomorrow's data spaces.

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