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Quality Management at Global Green Books Publishing - Mini Case Study

Global Green Books Staff

Global Green Books Publishing is growing its eBook business, satisfying demand for customized eBooks for the college market and for a growing number of Commercial Customers.  An eBook order is similar to a book order, except that the content is delivered digitally.  Orders are usually for several copies of a custom eBook, destined for End Users such as a classroom of students.  These Commercial Customers expect a high-quality product that is formatted for the environments that their End Users use – including various operating systems, eBook readers, and hardware (desktop computers, tablets/phablets, and smartphones). 

  • Customer Service Representatives
  • Senior Customer Service Representatives
  • Quality Assistant
  • Production Teams

As part of the standard development process, each eBook goes through several quality checks. When the order is received, a Customer Service Representative validates they have a complete order from their Commercial Customer and then a Senior Customer Service Representative verifies the order is properly documented on a Job Order form.  During the Production Phase, Production Teams assembles one eBook with all required additional learning material (like assignment templates, exercise files etc…) and a Quality Assistant will check the eBook against the Job Order to make sure it is ready for production.  Once it is approved by the Quality Assistant, copies of the requested eBook are produced in the desired formats.  A second quality check is performed by the Customer Service Representative to make sure that each requested  eBook and format is ready to release to the Commercial Customer.

Some Commercial Customers (and their End Users) are complaining about quality problems in the eBooks they have received from Global Green Books.  Sometimes the eBooks do not work correctly in the intended environment.  Sometimes, content is not clear or remains fuzzy.  Sometimes, a quality check will find that not all parts of the requested order have been included in the produced eBook. This causes rework for the Production Team and then the eBook must receive the approval from the Quality Assistant again before being re-created and released to the Customer Service Representative for their check again.

Every time the teams have to rework an eBook to correct a quality defect, the cost of quality increases. 

Samantha and her team work for the PMO at Global Green Books.  They recently met with Production Team members who are currently managing a large number of eBook production projects.  Global calls these orders projects because of the unique nature of the orders.  Together, they reviewed the lessons learned data and brainstormed from their experiences with producing eBooks to identify some of the quality problems that they were seeing in the eBook projects. They identified a number of issues:

  • The Commercial Customers’ quality requirements are never discussed within the Production Team. They are dealt with by the Customer Service Representatives at the beginning and end of the eBook production process. This means that Production Team members do not know what the customer expects and just do the tasks assigned on the Job Orders – they have little opportunity to gauge “Fitness for Use” of the orders.
  • The eBook order production process includes steps to check for completeness of the orders and produced eBooks. Their current approach doesn’t allow for checks on each component of the eBook production – content formats, book edition control or desk top publishing checks.
  • The 2 factors above lead to a perception among team members that quality is just testing by some other groups (quality and customer service), rather than a way of working and reviewing or checking work as they proceed. Further, some Production Team members don’t see quality as their responsibility.
  • Sometimes one of the Production Teams receives an order for an eBook that they have not yet produced – this leads the team to scramble and invariably leads to delays and increased costs.
  • One of the challenges facing the Customer Service Representatives is that they cannot always check each eBook in an environment that is the same as that used by the End Users of the eBook. Sometimes End Users have different equipment than the Customer Service Representatives have to perform their testing. There are times when this causes surprises after the eBook is released and leads to external failure costs for processing customer complaints, dealing with rework to fix the eBooks, and releasing a revised eBook.

Quality Problems and Causes

Luckily the Commercial Customers handle distribution to their users, so Global Green Books is not bearing the cost of customer returns and warranty claims but the reputation of Global Green Books is beginning to erode.

Samantha’s team has been asked to make changes to reduce the overall cost of quality.  This means that they want to reduce the costs of failing to meet customer requirements or expectations and reinvest those savings into preventing problems.

Please answer the questions below in the space following the question. You are encouraged to use the style of a Report or Informational Business Writing in response to these questions. Here is an article that describes the different types of writing styles:

Please do not delete the question.  You can write your answers within this document, adding tables or charts as needed.  You can submit a separate document as well, please keep the questions.

Consider the various symptoms and problems that this organization is experiencing.  What do you think are the causes of these problems?  Please show your root cause analysis thought process.

How might you affinitize the information?

Consider the various Global Green Book’s business roles identified in the case study.  Who should be responsible for quality?

Do you think the organization should hire an additional quality related role?  Why?

What would you recommend be the specific responsibilities of each identified role?  Please identify if the activities are QA or QC related.

What prevention activities would you suggest to prevent quality in the eBook products?

If you had to convince the organization to include some of these activities into the eBook production process, how would you make your argument?

Please create a swim lane diagram showing the current eBook process beginning with the Commercial Customer placing an order and ending with the Commercial Customer distributing the eBooks to their End Users.  The End Users do not accomplish any steps in the sales of production processes.  Please note that this process has at least one decision point.  Please include a legend in your diagram showing the meaning of the various shapes in your process flow.

Change is difficult.  But if an organization doesn’t change it will have difficulty staying at the top of its fitness landscape.  Select an improvement opportunity that you believe this organization should consider.  Prepare a simple improvement plan for this opportunity using the PDCA approach.  Please explain which aspects of your plan embody best practices in modern quality management and continuous improvement.

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