The Critical To Quality (CTQ) Checklist: An Overview

The Critical To Quality (CTQ) Checklist: An Overview

In some recent lean training, I was introduced to the powerful concept of a Critical To Quality (CTQ) checklist. It’s a very versatile tool and it wasn’t long before I came to realize the broad scope of its application. In fact, the concept seems applicable even to training itself.

The CTQ checklist is a tool frequently used by lean practitioners to help focus on the essential steps within a given process. The underlying idea is simple: not all process steps are created equal and some steps are much more important. In fact, some steps are so important that if they are not correctly performed, the entire process would fail (even if all other steps are executed to perfection). These are the items to be included on the process’ CTQ checklist.

One example is in the shipping of finished goods. A comprehensive list of all actions to be performed by the shipping associate might include more than 30 steps. However, a CTQ checklist might be a four-step list that looks something like this:

- Correct item serial numbers?

- Correct quantity of items?

- Correct load sequence of freight?

- Adequate blocking and bracing of freight?

If any of these four actions are not properly executed, serious consequences are likely to result. What good is ensuring that packing lists are included on freight if the freight wasn’t properly blocked in and ended up flying out of the trailer, causing a road accident? What good is checking for small cosmetic damage to the product when the wrong product is being shipped?

Another example of a critical-to-quality step is the verification of a patient’s identity prior to performing a surgical operation. A surgery is a complicated process with numerous steps involved. During a surgery, all of the steps within the process could be flawlessly performed. However, all of that won’t matter if the wrong patient is being operated on!

Last week, I participated in a three-day training series entitled “Building the Lean Supply Chain Problem Solver,” part of a certificate program hosted by Georgia Tech Supply Chain and Logistics Institute and LeanCor. At the onset, I was hesitant while reading through the three-day agenda and seeing that I was already familiar with the vast majority of the concepts and tools covered in the course.

However, as I proceeded through the training, I quickly recovered from my initial hesitation. The course discussion and exercises greatly enhanced and deepened my understanding of lean concepts and tools. Then, my mind drew a connection. Perhaps it’s not really how much you know that makes a difference, but instead, how well you know the key concepts and your ability to apply them. Perhaps, within the wealth of lean training available out there, there’s a certain subset that are the “critical few” offerings. Maybe having a solid understanding of them are much more valuable than having a cursory understanding of a large arsenal of tools and concepts. Maybe that’s the brilliant natural design to lean after all.

Written by Sun Kwok, Lean Logistics Specialist at LeanCor

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Posted by LeanCor Supply Chain Group

LeanCor Supply Chain Group is a trusted supply chain partner that specializes in lean principles to deliver operational improvement. LeanCor’s three integrated divisions – LeanCor Training and Education, LeanCor Consulting, and LeanCor Logistics – help organizations eliminate waste, drive down costs, and build a culture of continuous improvement.

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