What Skills Will You Improve This Year?

 Sustaining Edge Solutions, Inc. Newsletter

Performance Improvement Solutions for Your Business                                 January 2014


This Month
* What Skills Will You Improve This Year?
* Layered Process Audits
* In Search of the Perfect Process
* 2013 Salary Survey
* In the News
* Training Courses


2014 Lean and Six Sigma Conference  Feb 24-25, 2014 Phoenix, AZ.  See you there!
AZTC Aerospace, Defense & Manufacturing Requirements Day March 6, 2014 Scottsdale, AZ.  We are a presenter and exhibitor.


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Our newsletters provide information on business management systems and process improvement methods.  These systems include ISO 9001 QMS, AS9100 Aviation, Space and Defense, ISO/TS 16949 Automotive, ISO 27001 Information Security, ISO 13485 Medical Devices, ISO 14001 Environmental Management Standard, and others.  Subjects include performance improvement methods such as Six Sigma, Lean Enterprise, and other topics of interest to our readers.

What subject are you interested in reading about this year?  As our readers, we want to KNOW!!  Have a subject of interest for a future newsletter, please let us know.   


What Skills Will You Improve This Year?         

Internal Consultant – An individual who operates within an organization but is available to be consulted on areas of expertise by other departments or individuals.

Quality professionals in any organization are internal consultants. As prior Quality Managers, we know that internal consultants play a unique role in driving successful change in organizations. Not only do they support the specific solution development and use their expertise, including project management support, they are often a key player and change agent in the change management activities that support project implementation and overall quality improvement. 

Internal consultants need a combination of company and industry knowledge and core consulting skills. It is also helpful to have additional expertise in one or more key practice areas such as: strategic business planning and performance measurement; process management (including quality management, Six Sigma, and Lean). This can include organizational effectiveness and development.

The American Society for Quality and the Association of Internal Management Consultants conducted a study with more than 800 respondents.  The study indicated an expanding role for Quality Management Professionals and the need for new skills. 


Top Areas Rated Very Important

  • Client Relationship Management 78%
  • Integrating Project and Change Management 77%
  • Rapid Implementation and Continuous Improvement 69%
  • Strategic Performance Measurement 66%

Key Personal Competencies in Addressing Future Responsibilities

  • Process Improvement 85%
  • Change Management 70%
  • Critical Thinking and Risk Management 65%
  • Leading Through Influence 61%


The study looked at the Client to Organization Linkage and Feedback System. 

49% have established an executive team and governance process to address cross organizational issues

Less than half the organizations have a formal system to address customer issues cross functionally. What results is the quality professional is often left on their own to resolve issues and customer concerns. Or a service company call center is left to decide what can we do to correct this –  on our own.  

Regarding the quality professional role in working with client leadership teams.

Only 19% indicated there was a defined process with frequent joint meetings.


In most cases the reality is one to two supplier quality personnel is the connection. We have heard from our clients that this type of relationship is often conducted in a vacuum; and the majority of the time customer feedback is received, for example on corrective action submission and closure is not even communicated properly. 

The survey also asked what are the biggest challenges in expanding your role for future needs?


Enhancing role as trusted advisor – 51% 

You could deduct here that over half the respondents find that company personnel don’t “trust” the quality department.  Unfortunately, the mindset of the quality department being an inspection and reporting of product/process issues, including potentially personnel can be a contributor to this challenge. Quality professionals have to be viewed as a resource to the company and top management must institute that mindset change.  

The types of programs most mentioned and used by internal consultants include:

  • Lean/Six Sigma
  • Continuous Improvement
  • Kaizen-type Approaches
  • Problem Solving & Analysis Methodologies
  • Process Improvement & Rapid Improvement
  • Accelerated Programs 

A very important question for the future was asked: What Will Make a Great Quality Professional In the Future? The top five responses included:  

  • Critical/Systems Thinking Skills
  • Team & Innovation Leadership
  • Cross-organizational Collaboration, Alignment & Influence
  • Change Leadership & Acceleration Capabilities & Adaptability
  • Strategy Execution, Issue Analysis & Performance Measurement 
Question for our Readers: What type of improvement efforts are working for you and your organization? Do you agree with the need to “Enhance your role as a trusted advisor?” If so, what needs to take place for you to accomplish this?  REPLY.  We will post feedback received next month and will keep your personal information (name and company) confidential.

Layered Process Audit, 2nd Edition            


In today’s business environment suppliers cannot rely only on inspection of parts produced and remain cost competitive.  The process approach to improvement  is now focused on proactive process control, for both automatic and human-dependant tasks.

Fundamental to improving process control, is verifying that critical process elements are compliant with requirements on an ongoing basis.  So, what is the difference between common internal audit methods and Layered Process Audits (LPAs)?   

LPAs for a production line are performed by different layers of management and various staff personnel on a set schedule. This ensures that each process is viewed with numerous sets of eyes and all levels of management. Well designed Layered audits help eliminate human error and insure that products are produced right the first time.

LPA checks are repeated, often daily and conducted by layers of management, it’s more likely that process errors will be found early. If the LPA questions are well defined, LPAs will proactively minimize process variation and the result will be evident in process, product and financial metrics.  For example, first time-yield, parts per million effective, overall equipment effectiveness, scrap and rework cost.

Some of the essential components of a Layered Process Audit Program include:

  • Management must take ownership of the LPA process
  • Auditors must identify and ask the right questions
  • Management layers, top to bottom, must participate
  • Immediate containment of nonconformance’s found
  • Continual improvement must be included in the process
  • Regularly scheduled and performed audits

The just published CQI-8 manual takes from the experience of OEMs and Tier One suppliers to deliver a roadmap for effective Layered Process Audit implementation to provide a reduction in variation along the manufacturing line all the way up through the ranks of plant management. It provides suggestions to improve their checksheets and other key aspects of their Layered Process Audit system.

To purchase the Layered Process Audit, 2nd Edition visit the AIAG Website.     


In Search of the Perfect Process            


In an article in 6L, a journal for Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing professionals, Jim Womack states, “Unless you have defined from the customer’s perspective what specific value is required, it is premature to begin thinking about building or improving processes to deliver it.” Womack defines a perfect process as one that is:

1. Valuable

2. Capable
3. Available
4. Adequate
5. Flexible


The perfect process is valuable because it creates and adds value for customers. Start by drawing a Value-Stream Map to visualize the process. Then remove the non-value-adding steps. Don’t begin by asking if a process step is valuable. First, see if the step is even needed. In other words, would the customer miss it? If the answer is “no”, don’t try to fix it, just eliminate it.


A capable process performs the same way with the same result every time. Improving the capability of a process is the starting place of Six Sigma. An available process can be performed every time it needs to be performed and in the standard cycle time. Availability depends on equipment reliability and uptime.


An adequate process has enough capacity to perform every time when it needs to be performed, without waiting. This is the concern of Lean Manufacturing System Design. A flexible process can change over quickly from one member of a product family to another one. Perfect processes have very low setup and changeover times. These flexible processes allow small amounts of parts for different products to be made frequently, resulting in high throughput and low inventory.


In addition to being valuable, capable, available, adequate, and flexible, a perfect process also has its steps linked and coordinated by:

1. Continuous flow,
2. Customer pull, and
3. Leveled production.

Continuous flow is the quickest way to get materials from point A to point B, while allowing customers to pull products out of the value stream to prevent the waste of overproduction. Leveling the volume and mix of product flow through the process permits a steady consumption of resources and minimizes the work-in-process inventories associated with batch-and-queue production.


Womack says a perfect process is waste-free. Every step is completely valuable, perfectly capable, perfectly available, exactly adequate, and highly flexible. And, every step is connected by continuous flow, noiseless pull, and maximal leveling. 



2013 Salary Survey – And Key Hiring Practices

The 2013 ASQ Salary Survey was sent to 44,945 ASQ members. There were 7,504 individual responses, for a response rate of 16.7%.  Salaries for quality professionals in 2013 increased ever-so-slightly after a year of stagnant salaries in 2012, according to Quality Progress magazine’s 27th annual Salary Survey.

According to the survey, salaries for respondents in 2013 increased 1.58 percent, a meager increase over last year – but an increase nonetheless – and less than 2011 when salaries for full-time employees in the United States rose nearly 2 percent. The highest-paid job titles in the U.S. include vice president/executive who make an average of $154,720, directors who make $123,460 and Master Black Belts, who average $119,274 in 2013.

Of the salary survey respondents, 58.2 percent hold at least one ASQ certification. Nearly 40 percent hold just one certification, and nearly 14 percent have earned two certifications. In the United States, respondents with more than 20 years’ experience in the quality field averaged $101,189 in 2013, according to the survey. In 2012, U.S. quality professionals with more than 20 years’ experience earned $99,564.

On the other hand, respondents with less than a year of experience in 2013 earn an average of $64,874, up from $63,674 in 2012.

The average salary of respondents who have no certifications is $85,454, whereas those who have earned one certification make an average of $87,948, and those with two certifications earn $92,866. Respondents who have earned six or more certifications earn an average of $108,264.

For more information on the 27th annual salary survey see the ASQ Website

In the News      

Federal Regulations for Manufacturers 


The number and complexity of federal regulations affecting manufacturers continue to grow, placing a heavy financial burden on the sector, according to a recent study by the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI).  The MAPI study states that the costs of federal regulations for the U.S. manufacturing sector have increased an average of 7.6 percent annually since 1998, while output in the sector has only grown 0.4 percent yearly during the same period.

Since 1981, federal agencies have released 2,302 regulations that affect manufacturers, of which 270 have an individual economic effect of $100 million/yr or more.

For more information see the ThomasNet News Website.


ASQ Receives New Contract For Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award    

The American Society for Quality (ASQ) was recently awarded a new contract to continue its administration of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA).  The Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence, on which the award is based, improves organizational performance and offers organizations an integrated approach to key management areas, like leadership, customer focus, operations focus, results and more. 


According to a December 2011 study, a conservative estimated benefit-to-cost ratio for organizations that employ the Baldrige Criteria was 820 to 1. A study of the organizations that have earned two Baldrige Awards shows their median growth in revenue was 93 percent in the years between their awards and their job growth was 2½ percent higher than the same industry.


Visit the ASQ Website for more information on the MBNQA.


Training Courses

To see the course description, schedule, and on-line registration click on the course title below. We deliver onsite training for all these courses and customized training to fit your specific needs.  We offer group discounts.  


View all our Courses

View Our Web Based E-Training Courses   

ISO 9001 Quality Management

Understanding and Implementing ISO9001:2008

ISO 9001:2008 Process Based Internal Auditor 

Documenting Your Management System

AS9100 Aviation, Space and Defense

Understanding and Implementing AS9100C (9110 &9120) Aviation, Space and Defense

AS9100C:2009 Process Based Internal Auditor

Documenting Your Management System 

ISO/TS 16949 Automotive

Understanding and Implementing ISO/TS16949:2009 Automotive

ISO/TS16949:2009 Process Based Internal Auditor
Documenting Your Management System 

ISO 14001 Environmental

Understanding and Implementing ISO14001:2004 Environmental
ISO14001:2004 Process Based Internal Auditor

Lean Enterprise and CI 

5S Five Pillars of a Lean Workplace Organization
Continuous Process Improvement
Lean Six Sigma
8 Disciplines (8D) of Problem Solving

ISO 13485 Medical Devices

Understanding and Implementing ISO 13485:2003 Medical Devices
ISO 13485 Process Based Internal Auditor 

ISO 27001 Information Security

Understanding and Implementing ISO 27001:2005 Information Security
ISO 27001 Process Based Internal Auditor 

All courses can be delivered at your company. Don’t see a course, location, or date that fits your needs?

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