IV.A.2 Basic management and planning tools

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Excerpt From The Certified Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence Handbook

1) Activity Network Diagram - The activity network diagram (AND) is an umbrella term that includes the critical path method (CPM) and the program evaluation and review technique (PERT). The AND is used when a task is complex and/or lengthy and, because of schedule constraints, it is desirable to determine which activities can be done in parallel. The AND is used often as a planning aid for construction projects and for large manufacturing contracts that are best handled as projects. The AND shows who is going to do what and when, and arrows are drawn to show what must be done in series and what can be done in parallel so that action can be taken if the overall time estimate is too high to meet goals.

2) Affinity Diagram - The affinity diagram is a method used to organize a large group of items into smaller chunks that are easier to understand and deal with. It is often used after a brainstorming process to organize the ideas that were listed. It can be done by first creating categories into which ideas will be placed, or all ideas can first be grouped into what appear to be similar categories that will be named after all grouping is completed. The process can be aided by writing each idea on a sticky note and having members of the group move the notes around until they are satisfied with the groupings. Some items may also be placed in multiple groups when deemed useful. A major benefit of the affinity diagram is that it creates a discussion on what the various ideas mean to each individual, and the resulting diagram is a jointly created mental model of the situation being analyzed. 

3) Interrelationship Digraph - While the affinity diagram organizes and makes visible various ideas about a project, the interrelationship digraph (or relationship diagram) pinpoints logical cause-and-effect relationships between ideas. The interrelationship digraph is often constructed using the components of an affinity diagram by asking, “If this category were changed, would it impact each of the other categories?” When the answer is yes for any pair of categories, an arrow is drawn from the first to the second, showing the cause-and-effect relationship. The Interrelationship Diagraph can be used to show the various issues that can impact the results of a team-based continual improvement effort and how they are interconnected. This diagram could be used to identify which components of the team process in an organization may not be working sufficiently well, or how there may be a lack of alignment between them. It may also be used to distinguish processes that are primarily drivers from processes that are primarily driven.

4) Matrix Diagram - The matrix diagram answers two important questions when sets of data are compared: Are the data related, and if so, how strong is the relationship? A matrix diagram can be used to analyze the relationships between variables in an affinity diagram as part of the process in creating an interrelationship digraph. In this way the matrix diagram promotes systems thinking.

5) Priorities Matrix - The priorities matrix assists in choosing between several options that have many useful benefits, but where not all of them are of equal value. The relative merit of each available course of action and the related effects creates a complicated picture that is difficult to prioritize in one’s mind. For example, how does a person choose between two automobiles, one of which offers average gas mileage, four-wheel drive, and a fully automated set of window and seat controls, and another that has a superior sound system, a significantly smoother ride, and better fuel economy? For one driver, four-wheel drive might be a must-have option that dominates all other considerations, but another driver might value fuel economy above all other options.

6) Process Decision Program Chart - No matter how well planned an activity is, things do not always turn out as expected. The process decision program chart (PDPC), similarly to fault tree analysis, can be used to identify contingency plans for several situations that might contribute to failure of a particular project. The tasks to be completed for the project are listed, followed by a list of problems that could occur. For each problem, a decision can be made in advance as to what will be done if each problem does occur. The contingency plan should also include ensuring availability of the resources needed to take the action.

7) Tree Diagram - The tree diagram breaks down an objective into the more detailed steps that must be carried out in order to achieve the objective. It begins with the broad objective and becomes more specific at each level. A tree diagram is similar to the work breakdown structure used in project management.

8 ) Gantt Chart - When simple projects need to be scheduled and monitored, or when a simple means of communicating project status is desired, a Gantt chart is often used. A Gantt chart uses horizontal bars on a time scale to show project activities, when each starts and ends, how the actual time used compares to the planned time, and may also show who is assigned to each activity. Each horizontal bar is an activity; which activities depend on others is not shown.

Quality Management BOK Reference


IV Quality Management Tools 
IV.A Problem-Solving Tools 
IV.A.2 Basic management and planning tools - Select, interpret, and evaluate output from these tools: affinity diagrams, tree diagrams, process decision program charts (PDPCs), matrix diagrams, prioritization matrices, interrelationship digraphs, activity network diagrams, and Gantt charts. ​ 

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Jerry Rice
Jerry Rice
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Date Added: Sep 12, 2018
Date Last Modified: Nov 16, 2018
Category: Resources