The Thanksgiving season

Mike ClearyAs the U.S. celebrates our annual Thanksgiving holiday, gathered around tables filled with good food and surrounded by good company, PQ Systems takes a moment to think of our own reasons to be grateful:

…for our employees;

…for a recovering economy;

…for the opportunity to serve;

…for a variety of learning opportunities;

…and most of all, for our customers.

To recognize our appreciation for those customers, our traditional company Thanksgiving pot luck luncheon this year was composed of a wide variety of dishes—all of which contained  ingredients produced by our customers in the food and beverage sector. You’d be surprised at the ways we utilized dairy products such as yogurt and cream cheese, a wide variety of meats, jams and peanut butter, grains and rice, and a host of other ingredients with our customers’ names on them.

We are indeed grateful not only for the plentiful supply of food that these customers bring to our tables, but also for the fact that they choose our software and training  to ensure the quality of their food and beverage products.

Thanks to all, and happy Thanksgiving.

Help us welcome the new addition to the GAGEpack family

Mike ClearyWe celebrated the release of GAGEpack 9.0, the newest member of the PQ software family, this week. As the youngest child, it comes from good stock—GAGEpack has been known and loved by customers since the release of the first version more than 20 years ago.

Infant that it is, it has more grown-up features than you can shake a stick at, and will serve a highly mature audience of calibration professionals with new ways of assuring accuracy in records and proof of efficiency. But I still feel like a new, proud father as I look at the screen shots with their clarity and ease of use.

I hope you’ll have a chance to hold the baby…and take it for a free ride!

Learn more about GAGEpack 9.0.

Worth a look: IHI founder, Don Berwick, picked to head Medicare and Medicaid

Mike ClearyPresident Barack Obama has picked Donald M. Berwick, MD to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. A champion for hospital quality improvement and safety in medical care, he founded the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) in 1991 and has been challenging doctors since then to provide better services at lower cost. Heading this important agency is considered by some to be “the second most powerful [healthcare] position in Washington, next to the secretary of health and human services.” The agency has been without a head for four years.  (http://allgov.com/)

Will Berwick be able to change the focus of the programs he leads to one of quality improvement? His background as a dynamic innovator in the healthcare industry promises this—but will he be able to sustain the focus on quality in the highly bureaucratic agency?

Have you had experiences that reflect Berwick’s mark on healthcare through IHI? What thoughts do you have about his potential success in leading this giant agency?

Worth a look: A funding opportunity for healthcare quality measurement development

Mike ClearyLooking for funding for children’s health improvement projects? One of our Quality eLine readers has generously offered a suggestion for possible grant funding opportunities under the newest healthcare legislation, passed in April.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) offers information about grant funding through CHIPRA (Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act). CHIPRA Pediatric Healthcare Quality Measures Program Centers of Excellence (U18) anticipates making seven to nine awards that total $55 million over a 4-year period. The maximum annual award is $2 million. Awards are contingent upon the availability of funds and the submission of a sufficient number of meritorious applications. Because the proposed research will vary across applications, it is anticipated that awards will vary in size and duration.

Application deadline is June 30, with letters of intent to be submitted by June 1. For more information: http://www.ahrq.gov/chip/chipraact.htm#Grants.

Prius, BP oil, Benadryl, coal mining: quality in the news

Mike ClearyRecalls of Toyotas (including Prius and Lexus models), news of quality issues that have halted use of 40 over-the-counter children’s drugs, an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that reveals failure of several back-up emergency systems, a mine collapse with evidence of negligence: all of these recent newsmakers highlight the critical importance of putting quality methods in place and being able to prove that systems to prevent failure are indeed sustained and working.

These systems are necessary to assure quality in products and processes, and when they involve potential loss of human life, this is even more true. How can a big company with multiple product lines assure the quality of its products and avoid recalls that are related to issues of quality? And how do companies communicate their concerns to customers in a timely way? These and other questions are raised by recent events.

What steps is your company doing to avoid these kinds of catastrophes?

Meet me in Orlando: PQ Systems at IHI 21st Annual National Forum

Mike ClearyIf you’re headed to Orlando, Florida next week (Monday, December 7th-Wednesday, December 9th) for the 21st Annual National Forum on Quality Improvement in Health Care, watch for me in the PQ Systems booth #801 in the exhibit area. I look forward to greeting you myself, showing you some of our newest products, and hearing about what you’re up to with your CQI efforts. I’ll also have demos of our process behavior charting software available.

Seeing familiar faces and making new friends in the quality world are highlights of the conference experience for me. See you there!

Meet me in Grapevine: PQ Systems at NAHQ 34th Annual Educational Conference

Mike ClearyIf you’re headed to Grapevine, Texas next week for the National Association for Healthcare Quality’s 34th Annual Educational Conference, watch for me in the PQ Systems booth #200 in the exhibit area. I look forward to greeting you myself, showing you some of our newest products, and hearing about what you’re up to with quality and process improvement. I’ll also have demos of our process behavior charting software available.

Seeing familiar faces and making new friends in the quality world are highlights of the conference experience for me. See you there!

Conference Link:
http://www.nahq.org/conference/

PQ Systems celebrating 25 years

Mike ClearyRemember 1984? The Cosby Show premiered. So did Miami Vice. Mary Lou Retton won gold medals. Michael Jackson’s hair caught fire during the shooting of a Pepsi commercial. Geraldine Ferraro became the first female vice presidential candidate. Apple released its first Macintosh computer (replacing the Apple IIE, on which the first SQCpack had been created in 1983). PQ Systems was born.

Yes, we’re 25 years old this month. We’ve maintained a string of great software and training products during that time—SQCpack, CHARTrunner, GAGEpack, DOEpack, Total Quality Transformation among them—and missed the market on some—QDS OnLine, for example. Like most 25-year-olds, we’re still learning, thanks to our customers and their feedback. Our training sessions keep evolving, not only in technology (from printed seminar books then to on-line webinars now) but also in content, as our customers become more knowledgeable about SPC and about technology itself. And like other twentysomethings, we’re a little impatient for what’s ahead, and never satisfied with what is.

So we hope we’ll keep learning and leading. Help us with that. And wish us a happy birthday!

Meet me in Minneapolis: PQ Systems at ASQ’s World Conference on Quality

Mike ClearyIf you’re headed to Minneapolis next week for ASQ’s World Conference on Quality, watch for us in the PQ Systems booth #807 in the exhibit area. I’ll look forward to greeting you myself, showing you some of our newest products, and hearing about what you’re up to with quality and process improvement.

Seeing familiar faces and making new friends in the quality world are highlights of the conference experience for me. See you there!

Searching for a quality job or employee?

Mike ClearyWritten Chinese characters for the word “crisis” have two elements, representing “danger” and “opportunity.” This ancient wisdom suggests that every crisis contains an element of opportunity—a hard lesson to be remembered in these days of economic downturn and massive layoffs.

Companies faced with diminished sales are turning to quality improvement as a way to save money and avoid further layoffs, according to observers, providing opportunities not only for quality professionals, but also for companies that may survive the crisis as stronger, more competitive organizations.

In the meantime, of course, lies the “danger” part: layoffs are painful, and staff reductions leave no one feeling safe. The network of quality organizations, companies, and professionals, however, may represent the “opportunity” part of the equation.

As part of this network, PQ Systems invites those who have lost their jobs to post links to their resumes and those who can use qualified professionals to link to position postings. Use the comments section below for our blog community to see. Acting as a link between job-seekers and job-providers is one way we can lend a helping hand.

We welcome your suggestions, your input, and of course, your link if you wish to post it.