Better than an insurance policy: Maintenance agreements give peace of mind

Barb ClearyIn every organization, one can find someone who continues to use old versions of major software programs long after everyone else has upgraded several times, not wanting to move outside a comfort zone that’s worked well, perhaps for years. It may be that he or she is not even aware that newer versions of the software—with features that may make life easier—are available and offer painless transition. Or oblivious to his or her status as a butt of MIS jokes about old fogeys using 10-year-old software.

Why upgrade, after all, if you have software that works? And why purchase a maintenance agreement if you’ve never had any problems that you couldn’t work out by calling your tech-savvy nephew in Chicago? After all, upgrade and maintenance agreements involve expense and paperwork, and force you to keep track of the multiple software programs that you use. And you may never have a question for a technical support analyst (especially if your nephew continues to help). Why bother?

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Quality quiz (April 2015): A classic quiz from Professor Cleary—and March’s quiz winners!

Mike ClearyWinners of last month’s quiz and a copy of Quality Quiz Classics are Barry Hatch (SEL, Pullman, WA); Ferdinand Pane (WorldPak Flexible Packaging, Reno, NV); and Diane Schmoller (Plastic Ingenuity, Cross Plains, WI). Congratulations! For this month’s quiz, and a chance to win a copy of Quality Quiz Classics, submit your response by April 30.

To celebrate the life and work of Professor Cleary, we are featuring a classic quiz from our archives.

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Bytes and pieces: News you can use

Spying Barbie? This product listens to your child’s conversations and sends them to the Internet. Worried about privacy?

Green Belt Handbook released: The new edition of The Certified Six Sigma Green Belt Handbook is now available through ASQ. It includes an offer for a free copy of Quality Gamebox from PQ Systems.

Archived videos available: Quality magazine has released its archive of videos related to quality, products, and conferences.

Baldrige guidelines announced: NIST has announced criteria for the 2015 Baldrige Excellence Framework with a renewed focus on leadership and managing change.

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Quality quiz (March 2015): A classic quiz from Professor Cleary—and February’s quiz winners!

Mike ClearyWinners of last month’s quiz and a copy of Quality Quiz Classics are Scot Garrison (Trinity Rail, OK); Mark Hammar (COM DEV, ON); and Bill Harwood (MDA QS ABL, NM). Congratulations! For this month’s quiz, and a chance to win a copy of Quality Quiz Classics, submit your response by March 27.

To celebrate the life and work of Professor Cleary, we are featuring a classic quiz from our archives.

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Take your pick: Available options for learning are expanded with technology

Barb ClearyDifferences in learning styles can be no more apparent than in responses to the challenge of assembling something ordered from a catalog that comes with “some assembly required” notice.

Some of us read the enclosed instructions, perhaps laboring over not-so-clear directions related to Part A and Slot B. Others dig right in, trying our own hand at putting the thing together. And others just give up and ask someone else to assemble that wet-dry vac that we ordered.

The same differences are true when it comes to learning about process control—both the system of process improvement itself and the tools that advance that system, including software programs. When it came to the theory, process, and tools of improvement, the traditional way of learning often involved travel, hotel stays, and full days of seminar training. Companies sent learners to conferences, where they participated in sessions selected for special interest or need.

All that has changed. While conferences and seminars continue to offer value in the learning process, technology has made it possible to expedite that learning, saving money and time. Webinars, for example, where participants in distant sites share their interactions with each other and with trained facilitators, allow a more highly customized approach to individual needs.

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