Quality in administrative processes and support systems: a DMAIC improvement project at Sandvik Coromant AB

Sandvik Coromant AB is part of the global enterprise Sandvik Group AB, and is world leading in providing and developing cutting tools for the metal working industry. The company operates in over 60 countries worldwide with its main office located in Sandviken, Sweden, where this thesis has been conducted.

The manufacturing industry has, during the last couple of years, started to focus more on processes and internal efficiency, but also on administration. As a part of this development, several support systems for administration have been implemented to attain higher yields in information flow and increased traceability. At Sandvik Coromant AB decisions have been made to delegate administrative tasks as part of new system implementations, which have led to the questioning of system and process efficiency among system users. The company’s quality policy supports continuous improvements and strives to achieve zero defects in all areas, which is why they wish to improve administrative processes as well. In order to improve something and measure the results, there is a need for an understanding of the situation today and how past decisions have affected the organization. Therefore, it was the purpose of this thesis to present an overview of how employees use and perceive the administrative situation and support systems, and from this draw conclusions about root causes for supposed inefficiency and find improvement suggestions. Also, consequences of previous delegation and implementation decisions had to be investigated.

To form a relevant foundation to base improvement suggestions and theories on, a structured and fact-oriented method was used. The project followed the DMAIC-model, which can be derived from the quality initiative named Six Sigma. First, the project was defined after which measurements were taken in regard to the usage and experiences within administration. The measurements contained questionnaires from the entire target group, but also from interviews in focus groups. The facts were then analysed by means of existing theories, from which several problem areas were identified and led to suggested improvements.

The main problem areas found in the project are problems that can be linked to the implementation of systems strategy, such as insufficient training and badly adopted implementation strategy regarding time, information and participation of employees. The systems bring technical problems as well but the main problem in system usage is thought to be the endless flow of information over the Internet or by e-mail. Five improvements were suggested as a start for the company to solve their problems. Some of these suggestions were to create a practical e-mail policy, produce routines for how assistants are to be organized and find a framework for how to work more actively with continuous improvements in the future.

Author: Eklund, Christoffer; Hadin, Lii

Source: Lulea University of Technology

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