Can/should SPC be used in administrative areas, purchasing, sales, planning...



My firm is certified ISO9000 and QS9000 and I'm the Quality System and SPC Supervisor.
I work for a big Worldwide american Company, in its italian entity.
We produce electronic/eletric connectors.
We have a very good SPC system in our production dept's and the results are good too. But it is no so easy to implement the SPC in the administrative areas, purchasing, sales, planning... There are two big problems:
- the managers don't have the SPC culture
- what variable can we put under control?

I'm looking for some suggestion. Thanks.

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barb butrym

Quite Involved in Discussions
the current news letter for the ASQ SPC division has a huge great article on just what you are looking for...find it at


Fully vaccinated are you?
Staff member
Hello Barb! Can you provide a specific URL - *and* - can 'everyman' reach it or is there a fee?

Don Winton

the managers don't have the SPC culture
Implementing an SPC method in administrative functions is difficult enough. Unless the managers involved are at least familiar with the concepts of SPC, the task is virtually impossible. Perhaps the first concern can be addressed in the second.

what variable can we put under control?
You would need to identify which areas are causing the greater concern and look at those. For example, purchase orders with errors, time cards not correctly processed, invoices issued to wrong customers, with wrong dates or wrong amounts, etc.

Next, you need to collect data over a period of time, say daily for four weeks. Plot these data not just to determine control, but to see if areas of improvement are needed. Pareto would be a good start. Using the Pareto analysis, determine the affect these errors are causing (lost money, lost time, cost of reprocessing, etc.).

Using these data, present to the managers the amount of losses they are experiencing in their departments (if they are on a bonus system for productivity or actual versus budget, this is costing THEM money). If the losses are of significance, this may push the managers to become more lured to the ‘the SPC culture.’ Money is the language of management. They will listen when you speak it.


Just the ramblings of an Old Wizard Warrior.

Check Out dWizard's Lair:

barb butrym

Quite Involved in Discussions
sorry i mislead you..... is the link, but they have not posted their newsletter. I have the hard copy...send your fax # and i will get it off to you. its excellent. Thought all divisions posted their newsletters on their web sites.....sorry. Or if it is of interest ...marc, should I fax it to you to post?

John C

You have a solution looking for a problem - seldom a good approach! What level of involvement do you have in the admin area? Before SPC you need data. Before data, you need to understand the process. Before understanding the process you need to have identified a likely prospect - something near and dear to the hearts of the exec - and proposed and had accepted a project to do a process evaluation job on it. If you have done that, and if you have inspected the process over a period of time and recommended - and had implemented - a series of cost saving/customer satisfying improvements, and if you have collected data over a period of time, and identified more improvements from that simple data (you have defect data - don’t stop to analyse, fix the cause), then you may be ready to use SPC. SPC comes in when the direct methods can make no further improvement.
But, if you had got to the stage where the process is ready for SPC, then you must already have the support of the managers. If they believe in process documentation, implementation, analysis, data collection and evaluation, and have supported moves to take advantage of these activities, then it won’t need a hard push to bring them the rest of the way. The hard part wouldn’t be their acceptance of SPC, but their acceptance of the first moves to analyse and change their methods. If you have broken through those stages, then roll out the SPC, but if you are, I’d say your position is fairly unique.
Or am I wrong? My experience is limited and somewhat out of date. Is in depth, effective SPC in admin just theory, like my proposal above? Or have people seen it working?
rgds, John C

barb butrym

Quite Involved in Discussions
Have seen it used in admin areas with excellent results and accepted widely..... there are many many uses, but you are right whan it needs to near and dear to someones heart...or they won't make the effort.

Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member

Good input. Don't do SPC just for the sake of doing SPC. Window dressing seldom accomplishes much.

Determine areas that need improvement and then determine if SPC should/could be used effectively. The ideas listed by Don are good examples of what can be measured by SPC. I have also seen some great efforts by "office folks" applying SPC effectively. I had a list, which had some 200+ possible processes (office and otherwise) which was given to me by a gentlemen who teaches Statistical Thinking. I just don't know where I put it, but I use to hand this out to "office folks" who were having a difficult time determining where and how to apply SPC. I'll see if I can find it.

Back to the group...

Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member

I checked out your Powerpoint presentation. Very nice job on the content and with the bells and whistles. Thanks for sharing that with us.

Funny how the supplier gave the customer (DoD) what they wanted. I wonder what they thought of their customer? I know what I am thinking.

Your example is a good one. Why do toilet seats cost so much when sold to the government? Maybe because they require their supplier to run Attribute and Variable Charts on toilet seats. Do you think the supplier absorbed those costs? Yeah, right!

The three classifications:

Value added - Is what it is. Adds value to the product or service as perceived by the Customer (or not, such as a properly implemented SPC program).

Nonvalue added (but necessary) - Again, is what it is. Does not add value to a product or service, but in its absence can lead to waste. Inspection is my example here.

Nonvalue added (waste) - Is what it is again. Done for no particular reason and detracts from the value of a product or service (plotting and calculating control charts beyond their usefulness). The customer pays for this, a cost he or she would not want to pay for.

Back to the group...


Thank you very much for your inputs (this is my first time in internet).

Don, Kevin,
I agree with you, the SPC is not some "sexy pictures" to show to our customers.
Two years ago I began to collect the data about external complaints due to customer service mistakes.
It was very hard because the sales manager did belive in that new activity.
We discovered that we had 5 or 6 complaints per month. We put this variabile under SPC and we fixed a goal.
After 2 years we have in average less than 1 complaints per month. It is a good result. We didn't spend a lot of money or energy to improuve the system, I think that it was sufficient to involve the CS employees in this project. But the sales manager does not belive that the spc helped him.
Now I'm trying to collect data about the time we need to receive a good supplier's reply to our complaints (8D), but I have the same problem with the purchasing manager.
I think that spc can help us everywhere, it is not necessary to arrive to a control charts system, often the data or pareto analyst are the best.
In fact the 8D process the data are the most important step: without data you cannot understand and improuve your work

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