7 Basic Quality Tools for Improvement

The 7 basic quality tools are also known as ‘The Old Seven’ and ‘The First Seven’. Kaoru Ishikawa a professor at Tokyo University, is considered as the father in quality was the first to emphasize on these quality tools.

These 7 basic tools are a set of graphical representation with statistical techniques. These are very helpful in solving queries related to quality. One can apply these tools after simple training. These tools helped Japan to during quality revolution.

Though these tools are old but are effective with the same popularity. Quite interestingly, The Deming Chain (Reducing costs through process improvement), Six Sigma, Lean Project Management (waste reduction), etc. use these tools for improvement.

Read More: Six Sigma Simplified

What are Basic Quality Tools?

Nowadays, a number of organizations make sure to use these tools. This helps to monitor and ultimately manage quality initiatives.

In today’s market, we see many types of controlling tools. But the old seven tools for quality control that are very common. As a different tool is used in for different problem-solving techniques so you have to juggle and find the right one for any particular issue.

Being a manager if you are familiar and know well how to implement these tools then life is quite easy – on the job at least!

These tools are namely;

  • Cause and Effect Diagrams
  • Flow Charts
  • Checksheets
  • Histograms
  • Pareto Charts (80/20 Rule)
  • Control Charts or Shewhart Chart
  • Scatter Diagrams

Let us see one by one in detailed scenarios;

Cause and Effect (Fish Bone) Diagrams

The Father in ‘Quality Circles’ Professor K. Ishikawa was the first to develop the Cause and Effect Analysis in the 1960’s.

Brainstorming is done and then a diagram is developed after this all of the possible causes of a problem. In this way, a thorough analysis is done of any specifics of the situation. this method is the best when dealing with complicated issues. It is also known as ‘fishbone diagram’ as the final shape looks like a fish Skelton.

How to Draw Fish Bone Diagram

Following steps are to follow to get a fishbone diagram;

Step – 1: Identify the problem you are trying to solve

Step – 2: Write it on the head of the fish

Step – 3: Write the major causes of the problem on the spine of the fish

Step – 4: Make categories of people, process, materials, and the equipment

Step – 5: Do a brainstorming and find a group familiar with the problem

After you are done with all the above steps, analyze, do modification if required in categories, it will help to resolve the identified problem.

fishbone diagram template in Power point, Power point

Make sure that there may many causes as your project like the client, management, environment, etc. The purpose of this fishbone diagram is to identify all the causes behind an effect.

How to Use Fish Bone Diagram

Analyzing the diagram will help you to find out;

  1. To Identify the problem
  2. To work out the major factors
  3. To Identify possible causes

Note: You can download the Template from here Cause and Effect Diagram Template Downloaded and modified from PowerPoint School

Flow Charts

Everyone is familiar with flow chart nowadays as the hierarchy of any organization is the most common example of any flow chart. It gives the idea of reporting structure inside any organization.

But,  here we are going to discuss flow charts that are used for process flows. This tool is the best to find out any bottleneck in a process flow. It shows how a process looks like and going through the steps. These charts also help to make an improvement in the process as well.

Benefits of Flow Chart

  • The Simplest of all flowcharts
  • Use for planning new processes or examining existing one
  • To keep people focused on the overall scenario
  • Displays what happening at each step
  • Indicates what happens when non-standard events occur
  • Graphically display any wasted effort

How to Draw a Flow Chart

  • First of all, enlist all major steps
  • Write them across the top of the chart
  • Now enlist sub-steps under each in the order they occur
  • Write the process step inside each symbol
  • Connect the Symbols with arrows showing the direction of flow

Process Flow Diagram-7 QC Tools

Checksheets

The check sheet is one of the simplest of 7 basic quality tools. Here, use it to collect data. For example, we use checksheet to track the number of times a certain event/incident is happening.Example Check Sheet. Telly sheet

A checksheet is also called a telly sheet.  It is NOT a checklist! 

Information is collected in quantitative form. In checksheets, we list down all the important checkpoints in a tabular form and kept updating the status. This helps to understand the progress pattern and helps to find the causes of defects.

As an example, Project management institute may track the number of questions by the student, per domain, per minute is answering. This will help them to make a test that can be solved in a time-effective manner and is logical as well. If students are taking much time on a particular question to crack then it is to be eliminated from the database to make it more exam proficient.

In the same pattern, other processes can be dealt with for improvement

Benefits of Check Sheets

  • The best tool for collecting and organizing measured data
  • The data collected helps for input for other quality tools
  • Collect data in a systematic and organized manner
  • Helps to determine the source of the problem
  • Helps to facilitate classification of data (stratification)

Histograms

Karl Pearson introduced a bar-graph representing the frequency distribution on each bar with time. A histogram helps to see the density of data. Ultimately this distribution leads to find the causes of major incidents.

Difference between Histogram & Pareto Charts

A histogram is a type of bar chart that represents each attribute in a column and the frequency of each attribute occurring as the height of the column.

A Pareto chart always has an arc for the cumulative percentage of the issues.  A Pareto helps to prioritize corrective actions.

Example of a Histogram

I will explain here all with an example although, it is quite clear from the histogram given above. You can see which is basically a delay analysis for the delay on a different project. If you see data was collected from all over the project. Segregated keeping in view these top categories.

Here, you can download Histogram Template Delay Analysis example by histogram 7 QC tools

Once data was uploaded in Microsoft Excel and histogram peaks clearly showing that it is the major issue is in the procurement department. It does not mean that no other one is hampering the situation but a clear indication to the top management to work on procurement issues.

Hence, you can say a  histogram helps to prioritize the issues to present to the top management to deal with as soon as possible.

There is a limitation to draw a histogram, you should have enough data to draw and drive the results. It may mislead if you don’t have enough data.

Pareto Charts (80/20 Rule)

A Pareto chart is a bar graph of data showing the largest number of frequencies to the smallest and a cumulative percentage as shown in the graph below.

In this example, we are looking at the number of product defects in each of the listed categories.

When you look at the number of defects from the largest to the smallest occurrences, it is easy to see how to prioritize improvements efforts.

How to Draw a Pareto Chart

To draw a Pareto chart is quite simple. Major part is to collect the right data. Pareto Chart Template

Steps to make a Pareto Chart

In the below chart, I need to find the major root cause of my quality issues related to the steel industry during a casting process.

You can download the template and follow along the below steps;

  • First of all, I collected the data from Quality logs
  • On MS Excel, I entered the data in high to low order.
  • Also calculated the cumulative percentage
  • Then draw the graph from the insert section.
  • Segregate the data as per their categories.
  • Analyzed and found Vital few and Trivial many.
  • Make a cut off 80:20

Pareto Chart Template

When to Use Pareto

Pareto Charts can be valuable when

  • Analyzing data about the frequency of problems in any process
  • You have many issues and need to find the most significant
  • Analyzing major causes
  • To make a report for top management

As explained in Histogram, the Pareto charts should not be mixed with those. Pareto charts have a cumulative percentage curve as well as it is categorized from high to low level.

Pareto charts are like a thumb rule where you want to get an instant result to take action.

Control Charts (Shewhart Chart)

A control chart is a statical chart also called as Shewhart Chart as it was named after Walter A. Shewhart.

This is one of the best tools to understand the fluctuation in a process over time. It is also called a run chart or a time series plot. It helps to find when and how o take action on set limits. Contro charts help to find the consistency of any process.

How to Draw a Control Chart?

First of all, we have to get the calculations of that particular process. You can download the Control Chart Template

  • Find the Mean – Average of those calculations (Target)
  • Then, set Upper Control Limit – UCL
  • After that, set Upper Control Limit – UCL

Control Charts Example

How to Conclude?

A process is out of control and needs immediate attention when;

  • If there is a single point outside the limits UCL or LCL. Like in the above graph 3rd point is at the upper control limit.
  • A run of eight in a row is on the same side of the mean.
  • Persistent patterns that suggest something unusual about your data and your process.

You can see in below graph, a run can help you to find consistantancy in your process. We set the Control Limits to not bother about all the stuff of our process.

This is why we call control chart a run chart

Scatter Diagrams

Scatter diagram or scatter plot is also a statistical tool. It uses variables like dependent variables on Y-Axis and Independent Variable on X-axis plotted as dots on their common intersection points. By joining these plotted dots can get any relationship between these variables or an equation in format Y = F(X) + C, where is C is an arbitrary constant.

A scatter diagram is used to find the root cause of any problem but only if there is any relationship already between them.

You can download here the Scatter Chart Template

Scatter Diagrams for Quality Control Tools

Above graph explains a positive relationship with the passage of time a village is getting populated. These relationships can be linear, exponential, quadratic, logarithmic, polynomial, etc. The variables can be positively or negatively related defined by the slope of the equation derived from the scatter diagram.

When to use the 7 QC Tools?

It is not an easy question but if your concepts are clear enough then you will enjoy using all the tools. let see how and where we can use these tools effectively

Flow Chart: Defining a Process 

Fishbone Diagram, Pareto Chart, and Control Charts: Measuring Phase

The Control Chart: Process Improvement Phase

The Scatter Diagram, Histogram, and Checksheets: Analyzing Phase

FAQ’s About 7 QC Tools

Question: What are the major causes in the fishbone diagram?

Answer: These are considered to be the major one;

  • People
  • Methods
  • Machines
  • Material
  • Measurements
  • Environment

Question: These tools are only for the process industry?

Answer: No, these apply where ever quality is required.

Question: How to know which tools are to use for a job?

Answer: Experience and if you know about the tools insight well then you can understand the process easily.


One Small Request:

I understand life is busy when you work especially in the Project Management field. We really have no time to play around the internet. I only can request you share this information to other colleagues. It will help me to grow my blog and can reach to more people. Thank you for visiting.


Read More: 5 Stages of a Team Development Tuckman

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Gerry

A great piece of content. I really liked the way you covered all the QC tools in an article. Thank you for your effort.

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