Process Improvement Tools and Applications in Quality Management Term Paper

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FedEx Quality Management Issue

Process Improvement Tools and Applications in Quality Management

FED-EX Case Study

For the purpose of the present study, the company chosen is that of Fed-Ex. This writer will take on the role of a quality management consultant and submit a recommended direction to implement a quality management initiative to address the quality management related problems identified. An examination of the Fed-Ex company informs this study that Fed-Ex has issues with its software in that other companies are not able to integrate with Fed-Ex software. This presents challenges and some of these challenges are affecting the quality of service delivery of Fed-Ex. An online search via Google's search engine reveals that there are software issues affecting the quality and perceived quality of Fed-Ex delivery services. A February 28, 2011 report states that FedEx had suffered a "major computer glitch…" and the result was system wide computer problems for the company. (ieee spectrum, 2011)

Process Improvement Tools and Applications in Quality Management

FED-EX Case Study

Introduction

For the purpose of the present study, the company chosen is that of Fed-Ex. This writer will take on the role of a quality management consultant and submit a recommended direction to implement a quality management initiative to address the quality management related problems identified.

I. Examination of the Fed-Ex Company

An examination of the Fed-Ex company informs this study that Fed-Ex has issues with its software in that other companies are not able to integrate with Fed-Ex software. This presents challenges and some of these challenges are affecting the quality of service delivery of Fed-Ex. An online search via Google's search engine reveals that there are software issues affecting the quality and perceived quality of Fed-Ex delivery services. A February 28, 2011 report states that FedEx had suffered a "major computer glitch…" and the result was system wide computer problems for the company. (ieee spectrum, 2011)

II. Quality Management Issue: Integration of Software Applications with Customer's Software

According to the ComputerWorld report a "…bad software download" to FedEx's PowerPad devices which the deliverers for FedEx carry resulted in the employees being required to input all the information on packages by hand and also required them to get handwritten signatures rather than the usual electronic signatures. The result: slow package delivery and in fact, the delivery was more than just a little behind. The company did not say how many of the PowerPads were affected in the accidental download of the wrong software update. In view of FedEx and its approximate 50,000 PowerPads globally in 60 countries this accidental software error likely resulted in many late deliveries and upset customers and ultimately affecting the quality of FedEx service greatly. In a separate report published 23 June 2010 in Barron's Tech Trader Daily, Eric Savitz reports that Federal Express (FDX) "is having some troubles today with updates of its package tracking system. Whether or not it has anything to do with the umpteen thousand people checking on their Apple (AAPL) iPhone 4 deliveries, I can't say. But FedEx says deliveries themselves are not an issue." (2010) FedEx announced on the company Web site that while tracking updates were delayed and a temporary situation that the deliveries were on time nevertheless. (Savitz, 2010, paraphrased)

FedEx reports the use of 'e-Shipping Tools' described as a Web-based program that enables customers to track shipping status on packages they send. Included are "integrated solutions to address the entire selling and supply chain needs of its customers. Its e-Commerce Solutions provide a full suite of services that allow businesses to integrate FedEx's transportation and information systems seamlessly into their own operations. These solutions have taken FedEx well beyond a shipping company." (Savitz, 2010) The report states that FedEx markets several hardware/software e-commerce solutions including:

(1) FedExPowerShipMC (a multicarrier hardware/software system),

(2) FedEx Ship ManagerServer (a hardware/software system providing high-speed transactions and superior reliability, allowing an average of eight transactions per second),

(3) FedExShipAPI ™ (an Internet-based application that allows customization, eliminating redundant programming), and (4) FedEx Net-Return® (a Web-based item-return management system). This infrastructure is now known as FedEx Direct Link. It enables business-to-business electronic commerce through combinations of global virtual private network (VPN) connectivity, Internet connectivity, leased-line connectivity, and VAN (value-added network) connectivity. (Savitz, 2010, p.1)

FedEx customers are able to: "…tap into a network of systems through the Internet. When a customer places an online order, the order is sent to a FedExWeb server. Information about the order and the customer is then sent to the merchant's PC, and a message is sent to the customer to con-rm receipt of the order. After the order is received and acknowledged, the FedEx Web server sends a message to the merchant's bank to obtain credit approval. At the same time, the order is sent via electronic data interchange (EDI) to a FedEx mainframe that activates the warehouse management system. The order is processed (goods are picked and packed), the warehouse inventory system is updated, and the shipping process is activated. Information regarding the processing of the order is accessible at the three remote electronic data centers (EDCs) located in the United States, the Europe/Mediterranean (EMEA) region, and the Asia Paci-c (APAC) region. During the entire process the customer, the merchant, and FedEx employees may track at any time the status of the order and its ful-llment via the Web." (Information Technologies - Concepts and Management, nd, p.50)

It is stated that there are two primary types of software solutions for "…for managing -- planning, organizing, coordinating, and controlling -- supply chain activities. First is the enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, which helps in managing both the internal and the external relationships with the business partners. Second is the supply chain management (SCM) software, which helps indecision making related both to internal segments and to their relationships with external segments." (Information Technologies - Concepts and Management, nd, p.52)

A FedEx SWOT reveals that the company began in 1973 and grew to the present owner of approximately 50% of ground shipping market share in the U.S. Noted in the company's 'weaknesses' is the inability of many companies to incorporate their software with the FedEx system. Stated in the Opportunities portion of the SWOT is the opportunity to FedEx to increase installs for technical services hardware and software applications.

Paul Krill reported in the work entitled "FedEx Seeks Improved Software Testing" published in Computer World online that FedEx is collaborating with the University of Memphis in taking is testing "to its next level." (Krill, 2006, p.1) Krill reports that the company believes that "current software testing approaches are antiquated." (2006, p.1) Memphis University has been commissioned by FedEx to research the following topics:

A risk-based testing process, featuring risk assessment;

A multistage system testing model, for fault tolerance and debugging-free software;

Managing software testing in projects that involve offshore vendors;

Engaging testers earlier in the life cycle;

Skills acquisition by testers;

Gauging employee personality and cultural characteristics as they pertain to software testing projects;

Development of decision models for the best use of software testing resources;

A systems testing expert system;

Improving test benefits through the software development life cycle;

A knowledge transfer mechanism for skills acquisition in software testing;

Applying a knowledge management approach to testing;

A network infrastructure test suite, to automate detection of network vulnerabilities. (Krill, 2006, p.1)

Eric Lai (2008) reports that FedEx has created "a free add-in for Microsoft Corporation's Outlook e-mail and collaboration software that lets users check delivery rates, schedule pickups and track packages." (p.1) The add-in is called FedEx QuickShip and is reported as a "…new tool [that] lets users of Outlook 2003 or Outlook 2007 send packages to contacts in their address books via FedEx with a single mouse click, according to Chris Bryant, senior product manager at Microsoft's Office platform strategy team. That capability saves FedEx customers from having to upload or retype the address and contact information of recipients…" (Lai, 2008, p.1)

It is reported that this add-in is "a prelude to other collaborative offerings being planned by Microsoft and FedEx, which bought Kinko's chain of copying and printing stores four years ago to gain access to new electronic document delivery services and other technologies." (Lai, 2008, p.1) Future joint offerings are stated to include "…the ability to print documents stored in a Microsoft SharePoint library on printers in Kinko's stores. FedEx is also working enable users to print Word documents on Kinko's printers, Bryant said. In the latter scenario, users would be able to control the type of paper and bindings that are used and whether the documents would be picked up at the store or shipped to an address" (Lai, 2008, p.1)

Fed-Ex does seen to be aware that these problems and challenges will arise as evidenced by a 2003 report, which states that Fed-Ex was attending the 'Sustainable Computing Consortium'. The report states that Cynthia Spangler, vice president for IT at Fed-Ex in Memphis relates that a system that is well-performing is one that "doesn't change very…[continue]

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