Process mapping tools are found in every quality practitioner’s toolbox. Whether flowcharts, SIPOCs (suppliers, inputs, process, outputs, customers), mind maps or swim lanes, there is a process mapping tool that can document the process under review. Since the 1970s, when the quality movement took hold in the United States, the most often used and most widely accepted of these tools has been the flowchart. It is from this basic mapping concept that all others have emerged.
Pull systems, one-piece flow, elimination of waste-these are the concepts most often discussed when lean is the topic. Quality at the Source, on the other hand, is rarely front and center when lean improvement efforts are presented.
Even though improved quality is a common outcome of lean transformations every day, the glamorous lean concepts and tools seem to get all the attention. However, just as 5S systems are credited with productivity improvements of up to 10%, Quality at the Source (QATS) can produce dramatic quality improvements in short order.