Research and Reflection
Statistical Process Control "can be applied to any process, since everything done in the workplace is a process" (Goetsch & Davis, 2013, p. 312). Process improvement is enabled through the use of this statistical method that "separates special-cause variation from natural variation to eliminate the special causes and to establish and maintain consistency in the process" (Goetsch & Davis, 2013, p. 335).
Statistical Process Control presents several challenges on the road to improving quality. Organizations have to hire someone that is an expert in statistics, when SPC is being implemented. The statistical expert will need to make the necessary decisions on what/how much to sample, which control charts to use, and so forth. If the incorrect decisions are made, by someone other than a statistical expert, then the organization winds up relying on invalid information to control processes. This is not a straightforward process, so the use of a statistical expert is a must.
If a problem requires a quick fix, then this method presents a problem. Statistical Process Control requires thorough observation of the process, various charts must be developed, and training must occur before rolling out the new process. Jack Gordon states that "downtimes may be necessary, as crucial staff have to attend training sessions" (n.d., para. 2).
Jack Gordon notes that "implementation of SPC is a costly endeavor, and in most cases staff must be hired to train your personnel" (n.d., para. 3). In-house training comes with its own cost, as resources and materials are necessary. Hiring the statistical expert adds even more to the cost of an SPC implementation.
Finally, implementation of SPC requires cooperation. Cooperation is needed from the management level down to the production line level employee. The production line level employee provides important data to the statistical expert. This data must be accurate, as it is key in developing the charts that end up being used to define the process. Goetsch and Davis note that "as with every aspect of total quality, management commitment is an absolute necessity" (2013, p. 326).
Gerald Baldino lays out the top three advantages of SPC as follows, "prevent recalls from happening, re-evaluate set production processes to increase efficiency, and to generate complete confidence in your product". The implementation of an SPC means that a defect in production can be found as it occurs. Production of the process can be halted, and the error fixed before the product goes out the door. Implementation of an SPC increases efficiency, as the process is reviewed, and altered for maximum efficiency. By ensuring the product goes out the door with minimal defect, customer confidence in an organization's product will grow.
In the field of healthcare, SPC can be used to look at organizational process, such as blood draws, blood pressure checks, and even patient care. The review of the process involved can determine if the process being used is stable and predictable, or if there is a change from one facility to the next. For an organization like Norton Healthcare, this means reviewing the process at over 5 hospitals and numerous intermediate care facilities and physician offices. Ensuring that the same process is followed system wide is important in the healthcare industry.