The Client: A Global Semiconductor Leader

Overview

The manufacture of sophisticated high-precision products requires a great deal of quality control. Microcontrollers, for instance, are one of the most critical and powerful elements of modern electronic technology, and therefore require close monitoring of performance and quality.

At the company, stringent quality processes guide the manufacture of products to ensure that they comply with top quality standards, and meet the performance needs of various advanced applications.

One of the ways that the company continually strengthens its quality is by listening to its customers. Product quality issues reported by them are tracked, routed through a rigorous process of investigation and resolution, and analyzed to discover trends.

These and more processes help the company continually enhance customer satisfaction. However, the processes are extremely complex to manage on a global scale. Previously, business units each managed quality assurance separately. As a result, enterprise-level collaboration and visibility into the processes was poor.

In response, the company sought to implement an integrated framework that would streamline, unite and automate quality issue management processes across the enterprise. With MetricStream Product Quality Assurance Solution, the company was able to achieve these objectives, and strengthen the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of its product quality assurance operations.

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Solution

Realizing the risks and limitations of its quality assurance management systems, the company opted for an upgrade. Managers evaluated various technology providers to find a solution that could effectively meet its requirements for an intelligent, integrated and collaborative quality framework.

Eventually, the company chose MetricStream Product Quality Assurance Solution based on its flexibility, comprehensive reporting capabilities, automation, and ability to unify varied quality-based processes across the global enterprise.

Built on MetricStream’s scalable and extendable GRC platform, the solution is enabling the company to streamline, integrate and automate quality assurance processes across geographical business units, and thus strengthen customer satisfaction.

Managing product issues with MetricStream solution

Quality issue recording: The MetricStream solution is closely integrated with the company’s existing system. Therefore, as soon as a customer or sales person reports a product quality issue on the company’s website, the solution captures the details of the issues, and identifies the product unit, as well as the quality engineer responsible for the product. At the same time, it automatically sends out an e-mail to the complaint logger with details on how the product will be followed up.

Each issue that is entered in an online form is assigned a unique number. This makes it easy for managers to track the status of the issue as it moves from one stage to the next.

Initial verification and failure analysis: The MetricStream solution captures detailed information about each quality issue. This simplifies and accelerates the issue investigation and resolution process, as engineers don’t have to spend time collecting the requisite details from varied sources.

With the information on the MetricStream solution, a team of engineers performs an initial verification to identify if the issue reported is indeed a failure. If it is, they conduct a detailed failure analysis to identify and document the root cause of the problem. At each stage the information is recorded in the MetricStream solution, enabling close monitoring of the failure investigation process at the top level.

Once a failure analysis has been conducted, the engineers initiate corrective actions such as replacing the customers’ defective components with new ones. The MetricStream solution helps evaluate the effectiveness of the action, and automatically tracks customer approvals right up to closure.

The solution also helps capture the cost of quality. Therefore, if the failure analysis laboratory spent ten hours on a complaint, the solution automatically calculates the cost based on predefined parameters.

Integrated data management: The MetricStream solution provides a common repository to record data at each step of the product quality assurance process. This data can be archived for future reference or use by another business unit. It enables each unit to learn from the other’s quality management initiatives. It also helps standardize processes and failure codes, and thereby ensure consistency in the way that issues are handled across all geographical locations.

The information on the MetricStream solution can be shared and viewed simultaneously across global locations. Therefore, different teams can collaborate to resolve issues. More importantly, they can prevent the same issue from recurring at another point in the enterprise. Thereby, the number of issues reported can be reduced, quality management processes enhanced, and customer satisfaction strengthened.

Reports and dashboards: The MetricStream solution provides a powerful reporting engine that enables multiple reports to be prepared at the click of a button, rather than through cumbersome manually-intensive spreadsheets.

These reports can be created using predefined templates and schedules. The solution automatically populates the templates by pulling together information that was entered at various times on various quality assurance processes. This significantly reduces the time taken to prepare reports, and accelerates the issue management lifecycle.

An extensive variety of reports can be quickly generated on the solution. For instance, after the initial verification, a 3D report can be prepared, detailing what the issue is, how it is being addressed, and whether or not it is a confirmed failure.

Similarly, at the end of the investigation, an 8D report can be generated with comprehensive information on the defective component, initial verification, interim containment, failure analysis, root cause and permanent corrective action.

The MetricStream solution also provides powerful dashboards with drill-down capabilities which enhance enterprise-wide transparency into quality assurance processes. These dashboards provide real-time insights into data such as current open quality issues, issue count per product line/unit/assembly location/customer division/quality engineer, priority and critical issues, the age of the issues, issue severity, repeat failures and action trends.

The solution also provides Pareto charts analyzing root cause originators for each issue, and consolidating the top originators. Charts and trending data can be automatically generated in a scheduled or ad hoc manner. Managers can thereby closely track the status of quality issue management at any time and at any point across the enterprise.

Quality Assurance Management 
Rate of repeat failures
 

Quality Assurance Management 
Issue count by priority and type
 

Root Cause Originators

Challenges

Siloed quality assurance processes: Each geographical business unit handled product quality assurance using separate systems and processes. There was no common, enterprise-level framework uniting these processes. Therefore, information sharing and collaboration was limited; and the chances of repeat failures occurring at another point in the enterprise were high.

Cumbersome spreadsheets: To ensure in-depth investigation and resolution of product quality issues, quality engineers have to document their findings and actions at every stage of the process. As this was done manually, it proved to be exhausting and prone to errors. Users had to painstakingly fill in details, and compare multiple unwieldy spreadsheets to gather trends. It demanded a great deal of time, manpower and effort.

Complex 8D reports: As a manufacturer, the company has to prepare extensive 8D reports which follow an 8-step approach to address each issue. Previously, it was extremely complex and time-consuming to manually report all details - right from defining the issue management team, to describing the issue itself, outlining short-term and permanent corrective actions, identifying root causes, and defining steps to prevent recurrence of the issue.

Delay in issue resolution and response: For every product quality issue reported, customers expect a quick turn-around. That means that quality issue management processes need to be speedy, efficient and systematic. The company found this difficult to achieve because of the number of manually-intensive processes involved. It was both complicated and time-consuming to consolidate all the investigative and analytical information into the required reports, and follow them through to closure.

Limited top-level visibility: The ad hoc approach to product quality assurance prevented managers and executives from gaining real-time, enterprise-level insights into quality issue management. Independent initiatives specific to each business unit could be studied through the reports prepared by that business unit; however, at the top-level, it was difficult to study open issue and action trends, understand the criticality of issues, prepare Pareto charts for root cause originators, analyze repeat failures, or identify deeper quality problems that could be addressed proactively.

Why the company selected MetricStream

The MetricStream solution provides a common, integrated framework to efficiently manage product quality issues across the enterprise

The Web-based solution enables multi-site access and enterprise-wide collaboration

Automated capabilities eliminate the need for manual, paper-based processes

The solution is extremely flexible, and can be customized to specific needs in a short time

Powerful reporting engines and dashboards provide real-time and enterprise-wide transparency into quality processes

Benefits

  • Streamlined, integrated quality assurance:
    The MetricStream solution has provided the company with a single point of reference to manage quality assurance across business units and geographies. MetricStream GRC Platform acts as the nucleus of the enterprise, integrating, unifying and standardizing quality issue management processes.
  • Enhanced collaboration:
    The MetricStream solution enables the company to transcend business and functional silos, and opens up avenues for seamless collaboration. Managers across the enterprise can learn from each other’s quality management initiatives, share information, and prevent issues that have occurred in another business unit from recurring in theirs.
  • Greater transparency:
    MetricStream’s dashboards and reports provide in-depth and real-time visibility into the status of quality issue management at any point across the enterprise. Managers are able to monitor the effectiveness of quality assurance, and ensure that each issue is routed through a comprehensive investigation and resolution process.
  • Higher efficiency:
    The MetricStream solution automates critical processes, enabling users to save precious time, resources and effort. The solution also helps accelerate end-to-end workflows, reduce the average issue resolution time, and eliminate delays in the issue closure process.
  • Improved product quality:
    The MetricStream solution helps the company collate product quality issues and trends from across the enterprise. The solution provides in-depth insights into problem areas and repeat failures. With this information, managers can proactively prevent future issues from occurring, and thereby enhance product quality and customer satisfaction.
  • Cost savings:
    The MetricStream solution reduces the cost of poor quality by identifying, tracking and documenting quality issues across the enterprise, as well as providing the visibility required to initiate permanent corrective actions that can remedy the problem. The solution’s integrated framework helps establish a systematic process for issue investigation and resolution that eliminates loop holes or gaps. Thus, the company can prevent the issue from recurring, and avoid the subsequent costs.

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