The background compromises of the case study based on ASQ (American Society of Quality) and the fulfilment of its goals and missions by incorporating strategic planning and lean six sigma application for improving the quality of the organization. The main purpose of the case study was to demonstrate the change driven performance improvement plan, through the utilization of LSS tools and understanding of phases through which the project goes till it is translated to a quality assured and effective product, which meets the demands of the consumer as well as the stakeholders involved (Laureani & Antony, 2017; Grover, Kovach, & Cudney, 2016). For improving the quality of the products and services, it is mandatory to identify or recognize the life cycle of the project and the factor which have an impact on its processes. A project is known to be implemented in five phases, namely, the initial phase, the planning stage, the execution phase, the stage of evaluation or monitoring, and lastly the closing stage. The main aim is to integrate the lean six sigma approach into these phases for changing the dynamics of the project in a way which results in the desired outcome which is improved quality of the product and sustainable growth of the organization, within the available resources. Change, is thus an inevitable process to achieve these goals.
Through the case study, it can be derived that the key areas for change were identified by using survey and interviews from the employees, consumers as well as the stakeholders. It was found that there was no appropriate segregation of target market for their product QAHE (Quality Approaches to Higher Education), which aimed only at audiences pursuing the “higher education”, but due to the open access, there is an overlap in the consumers using this particular product. This electronic journal service had open access for members, as well as non-members of ASQ. The same overlapping was found in the market segment of Workforce development segment, as the members of this segment are also involved in the higher education programs, while working as a local staff. This helped in identifying the primary area for change (Meredith et al, 2017). It was recommended that various divisions of ASQ must merge and follow the model of Quality Education Conference and Workshops (QECW), which targeted all the members such as K-12, members involved in the higher education as well as the workforce members.
It was postulated that the combined expertise of the service providers would deliver highly valuable product, which can be helpful for all the members each according to their respective portfolios, regardless of being associated to any of the ASQ institutions. Furthermore, it was noticed in the case study that this change fostered improvement in quality to a great extent by utilizing the collective knowledge of the members as the main resource. for ASQ members, stakeholders and the customers. The change was also seen in combining the QAHE and workforce development and its name was changed to QAE (Quality approached in education) (Grover, Kovach, & Cudney, 2016). This merging of individual products to combined products succeeding the obtaining the quality and sustainability goals of the organization, creating a balance between performance and judicious utilization of resources, which is one of the major challenges faced by all the organizations across the globe.
The ASQ Education division aimed at improving the quality of the educational services in a way which does not affect the cost and enhances optimal utilization of the present resources. This is a major challenge for all the organizations who look to improve the productivity and development of their services without impacting the quality of the product; or increasing the cost incurred to achieve these goals (Grover, Kovach, & Cudney, 2016). In the case study, it is evident that their main challenge is the scarcity of resources. For managing the resources and allocation of these resources effectively requires interventions from quality experts, who offer help by the implementation of the quality assurance tools, such as lean six sigma and strategic planning of the projects. Another goal of the project is moving towards sustainable growth, by balancing the performance with the quality. Most of the times, it is maintaining the balance between the two is difficult (Fleming & Koppelman, 2016). When quality improves, the productivity is decreased and vice versa. Thus, change was required to rebuild the working framework of the ASQ education organization to help them in delivering high-quality products and services.
Change is the only constant in the world and is inevitable for an organization to keep working towards the change for improving the quality of their products (Cameron & Green, 2019). Changes are necessary from time to time because of various reasons; they can be extrinsic as well as intrinsic factors. The intrinsic factors encompass those challenges which the company or an organization faces internally. Such as, changes in the project model; a financial situation of the organization, the economy of the nation in which the organization is established; profit and loss analysis of the company; changes in the management and workflow. The extrinsic factors include customer satisfaction, demands of various customers/clients; new organizational laws or guidelines issued by the government; market trends and others. In the case study, ASQ education division was faced with the challenge of improving quality of their products and services, and application of their educational product in all the learning environments and also to help the members in the organization to understanding and develop the skills of quality assurance.
It was noted that although the education service was effective in meeting the needs of the customers and the members, however, it was believed by the leaders of the organization that more value could be added to the service. Thus, from the case study, it can be deduced that the educational department of the ASQ is required to work towards enhancing the total quality of education and increase the value creation of the products which they are offering. They aim to enhance the educational standards in all kinds of educational settings. The guided change in this context, will help them to in assisting their employees, the organization as well as the stakeholders to establish the understanding about the tools and techniques for effectively managing and maintaining the standard of quality in all of their educational services. Also, it has been determined by the leaders that the organization should bring about changes to be able to fulfil the requirements of their customers in a more adequate manner (Hornstein, 2015). The biggest reason for this was the lack of funds on the part of the organization, that is known to be a common concern for the majority of the small and medium-sized companies.
Thus, it is crucial for an organization to continuously identify the issues which require change depending on the various internal and external factors.
The change was carried out within the framework of the “Project Management Body of Knowledge” or PMBOK guidelines. PMBOK defined a project as, “an endeavour undertaken for a given period which is to create a unique outcome (Tang et al., 2019)." The project plan is executed in five phases, the initial phase, the planning phase, the execution phase, the evaluation or monitoring phase and lastly the closing phase. All these phases required to be studied thoroughly for recognizing or identifying the key problem areas where change intervention is required. As reflected in the case study of the ASQ education division, the planning phase comprised the process wherein comprehensive strategies were curated for managing the project effectively. Furthermore, it involved various steps in the decision-making of the action plan which are in alignment with the expected or targeted outcome established for the particular project.
In this phase, an adequate measurement system was determined along with the documentation of the present condition procedure (Kerzner, 2017). This was implemented in the two of the services provided by ASQ Educational division, which were QAHE and QECW. Both were studied and evaluated for exploration purposes by appropriate measurement systems and documentation. They were analysed through different phases in terms of the techniques of LSS DMAIC which can be expressed as, Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control (Laureani & Antony, 2017). QAHE and QECW were chosen as they were deemed the most highly valued products, as revealed by the interviews and the surveys conducted throughout the organization, involving the members, non-members, students as well as the external stakeholders or customers. This helped in the identification of the key service elements where change needed to be focused.
It is a herculean task for the majority of the organizations to simulate changes within the organization with judicious use of its resources. This is usually a challenge in the small-businesses such as ASQ Education; where scarcity of resources is always an issue and it is mostly run by volunteers. Implementation of Lean Six Sigma techniques to address these challenges certainly provided many benefits to the organization (Kerzner, 2017). The case study concluded that use DMAIC approaches were greatly helpful in improving the quality of the product cost-effectively, as well as provided clearer guidance to direct the operations of the publication processes.
A new theory was postulated to form an amalgamation of the different marketing segments to transform the same into a fundamental book (Meredith et al., 2017). This configuration created more covers in case any forthcoming complications arose. Correspondingly, the optimization of the development process was done as an attempt to decrease the scope of repetitive performance (Fleming et al., 2016). As per the case study, the case of the book has many influential mechanisms, however, the problem lies in the mechanism of segregation of the marketing segments. Additionally, there were not many ways by which the present procedure could generate the potential to maximize the use of the constrained funds or resources of the educational system department of the ASQ. Moreover, a greater level of success of the organizational products and services, the required layout of the organization as well as its functioning concerning each of their commodities was not sufficient or up to the mark. It required certain transformation which could lead to more feasible options of offering the products and services and enhanced customer experience. (Heagney, 2016).
The role of change involves active participation and collaborative efforts in the implementation of new policies and plans in the project (Kozák, 2018). This is only possible through a clearly defined work or action plan in the initial stage of project planning. Once the work plan and the roles are defined, they have to be aligned with the goals of the project. This occurs by dividing the goals into long term as well as short-term goals. The integration of change also requires an effective allocation of resources and the tasks to be conducted by various individuals in the divisions. The integration occurs as a step by step mechanism through different phases of the project plan. Effective communication also aided in the smooth process of integration of the project, it included, generating, collecting, and sharing project- related information with all the stakeholders involved, and is carried out in a periodically/frequently manner; using crystal clear and suitable means to certify that the various needs or the requirements of the project are well-understood by all stakeholders (Newton, 2016). In the case study, it is evident that the LSS techniques and strategic planning techniques were effectively integrated into the mechanics of the project and produced successful results. The LSS methodologies carried out effective re-alignment of the process to overcome the challenges faced by each marketing segment.
It is very crucial to identifying and analyse the risk factors involved with the change through-out project life cycle by deploying a well-structured and a fact-based approach (Harrington, 2016). Lack of recognition of the risk factors can lead to failure of the change management plan and the entire project. Some of the risk factors which include employees returning to their old working ways. Therefore, in the case study, a well-constructed document with the new framework was established and consolidation of change was done in the initial phase as a strategy for risk management (Ján & Veronika, 2017). This ensured stabilization of the changes and their implementation across the organization. The second risk includes the risk of failure; which is why it is important to ensure routine evaluation in the monitoring phase of the project planning. In the case study feedback surveys and interviews were conducted to eliminate the risk factor about the failure of the project.
Change, is an indispensable force which helps an organization to achieve their goals. Change is the only constant in the world and is inevitable for an organization to keep working towards the change for improving the quality of their products. Changes are necessary from time to time because of various reasons; they can be extrinsic as well as intrinsic factors. The intrinsic factors encompass those challenges which the company or an organization faces internally. Such as, changes in the project model; the financial situation of the organization, the economy of the nation in which the organization is established; profit and loss analysis of the company; changes in the management and workflow. The extrinsic factors include customer satisfaction, demands of various customers/clients; new organizational laws or guidelines issued by the government; market trends and others. Since all these factors are accustomed to change, helps us to understand why change is a necessary evil. It has also been determined an organization should bring about changes to be able to fulfil the requirements of their customers in a more adequate manner (Hornstein, 2015). Thus, it is crucial for an organization to continuously identify the issues which require change depending on the various internal and external factors and engage in the continuous process of change, to survive as well as thrive and be successful.
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Kerzner, H. (2017). Project management: a systems approach to planning, scheduling, and controlling. John Wiley & Sons. Retrieved from https://books.google.co.in/books?hl=en&lr=&id=xlASDgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR19&dq=project+management&ots=Xb9j0TW2DY&sig=zLIP7hs-lSSYJtM1-U4F9Cj77Cc&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=project%20management&f=false
Kozák, T. (2018). Risk Responsiveness Based Organizational Change Management. European Journal of Economics and Business Studies, 4(2), 220-224.
Laureani, A., & Antony, J. (2017). Leadership characteristics for lean six sigma. Total Quality Management & Business Excellence, 28(3-4), 405-426.
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Newton, R. (2016). Project management step by step: how to plan and manage a highly successful project. Pearson UK.
Tang, C. M., Panchal, J. H., & Bradshaw, A. (2018). Project management knowledge areas and their relevance to today's project managers. Journal of Economic & Management Perspectives, 12(1), 545-549.
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