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Tqm Case Study: Newspaper Focuses on Customer Service

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TQM Case Study: Newspaper Focuses on Customer Service

Improving customer service was the focus of two projects within the deployment of Total Quality Management in a mid-sized newspaper in India. The projects involved adjusting advertisement deadlines and reducing the number of billing errors.

By Niraj Goyal

Quality in the Total Quality Management (TQM) method is defined as customer delight. Customers are delighted when their needs are met or exceeded. The needs of the customer are:

 Product quality

 Delivery quality

 Service quality

 Cost value

Improving customer service was the focus of two projects within the deployment of TQM in a mid-sized newspaper in India. This is the second piece in a three-part series of articles featuring case studies from that deployment. Part 1 of the series featured projects leading to improvements in product quality.

Reducing Advertisement Processing Time

The newspaper closed its window for booking advertisements at 4 p.m. every day. However, many of the newspaper's advertisers expressed that they would be delighted if this limit could be extended to 5 p.m., as they were not able to send ad materials on time for the 4 p.m. deadline.

The TQM leaders formed a team consisting of representatives from each link in the ad-processing chain of work. The team attended a two-day quality-mindset program to expose them to the concepts of TQM and also to open their minds about experimenting with change.

Defining the Problem

In TQM, problems are defined as Problem = Desire - Current status. Therefore, in this case:

Problem = Desired closing time - Current closing time = 5 p.m. - 4 p.m. = 60 minutes

The 4 p.m. deadline had been instituted because:

 Deadline for sending the ad pages to the press was 6:30 p.m.

 Standard cycle time for processing ads into pages was 2.5 hours

Achieving a 5 p.m. ad closure deadline meant reducing the standard ad processing time by 40 percent, or one hour. To define the current state, the actual time spent preparing pages to go to press was collected over several days.

Defining the metric: If T = (page processing time - page-to-press deadline), then for 99.7 percent on-time delivery, or 3 sigma performance, the average T + 3 standard deviations of T should be less than 0.

Measure the current state: The ad closing deadline could not be delayed by an hour without delaying the dispatch of the newspaper to press by an equivalent amount. Therefore, the current state was calculated by measuring the delay compared to a notional 5:30 p.m. dispatch time rather than the actual deadline of 6:30 p.m. Calculations showed that:

 Average T = 72 minutes

 Average T + 3 sigma of T = 267 minutes

The problem was defined: reduce 267 minutes to less than 0 minutes.

Analyzing the Problem

The team monitored the time spent on each activity of the ad process (Table 1).

Table 1: Time Spent on Ad Process Activity Deadline

Ad receiving

4 p.m.

Dummy "dump"

4:30 p.m.

Pagination complete

6:30 p.m.

During the 4 to 4:30 p.m. period, ads received at the last minute were still being processed. At 4:30 p.m., the material was dumped into the layout for pagination, meaning arrangement on the newspaper pages using software and manual corrections. To achieve the objective of a 5 p.m. ad content deadline, the pagination time had to be reduced.

Brainstorming why pagination took two hours produced three possible major reasons:

 Error correction

 Delayed receipt of ad material for a booked ad

 Last-minute updates from advertiser

All this work was carried out after the last ad was submitted. Team members suggested that if ads were released for pagination earlier, removing errors could begin simultaneously with the processing of the last ads in order to reduce cycle time. They agreed to give two early outputs at 3:30 and 4 p.m., before the final dump at 4:30 p.m.

Testing the Ideas

Table 2: Problems with New Process Problem Effect Root Cause Solution

Missing material removal

15 to 30 min.

Material delayed or not received

Only feed ads once all materials received

Error file found after last release

10 min.

Not checking pre dump

Check for errors pre dump

Special placement instructions not followed

10 min.

Processing team not aware of special instructions

Give instructions as received

Distorted ads in PDF

15 min.

Ads not corrected before feeding

...

...

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