The Deming Workbench

Dr. W. Edwards Deming, inventor of the Total Quality Management movement, developed the "Deming Workbench." The Deming Workbench has many uses, but in the context of our message we are interested in how it helps team members find ways to reduce work task time while enabling them to perform their work assignments right the very first time.

The Deming Workbench breaks down into three key components. The first component consists of the input necessary to perform the process. Acceptance of the input by the process owner (work task) is dependent upon "entrance criteria." These criteria define what is minimally acceptable. The meaning of "minimally acceptable" is anything less than these criteria will affect the process (work task) that utilizes the input.

The second component is the process application. This is where the work is actually performed. Initially the input is validated and once it has been accepted for processing, work is performed using the process guidelines and associated tools.

Upon completion of the process work, the third component, output, is produced. The produced output is validated against expected exit criteria much in the same way that input criteria were employed to protect the process effort from rework. Thus, exit criteria protect and ensure the quality of the produced output in concurrence with current process expectations and with the next process step to receive the produced output in mind.

When process owners do not recognize the changing entrance or exit criteria requirements, rework often results. Rework is a leading cause of wasted work time in project teams.

How do we prevent rework in our work assignments? This requires sufficient awareness of project-related events that occur outside the peripheral silo of the team members that might indirectly impact their work and place their delivery schedule in jeopardy and possibly the project as well.

There are three compelling points to learn.

1. The team must break down all barriers and look at the project completion on time and within scope as its product, not its task completion. This focuses the team on the second point.

2. To meet the end completion date on time, the handoff of work from one team member to another must be as smooth and error-free as possible. This means that at the formation of every team, the team members should be asked to rigorously define the entrance and exit criteria for each handoff.

3. The team should be measured on the successful completion of the project, as a team, and not on each individual finishing a task on time. It is not important to bottom line results if an individual finishes a task on time. In fact, it is perfectly normal for many tasks to take longer than estimated.

Team members have to extend themselves outside their own silo to look for process influences of which they need to be aware.

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