Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Outsourcing Quality Body of Knowledge Part I

I just finished reading a very nice article in the August edition of Quality Progress called "In the Know." Govindarajan Ramu nicely lays out a Body of Knowledge (BoK) for managing outsourcing projects. I plan to research this further, as I have been developing my own sourcing BoK which I plan to publish at some point in the future. Look for more about this article future posts-- lot's of good stuff here.

One point I'd like to talk about now is the use of the subject matter expert (sme). I've seen countless examples of a well-meaning company sending a SME to a local manufacturer, only to have the quality fall apart soon after he leaves. Having a subject matter expert participate in knowledge transfer is necessary, but won't guarantee a quality product unless their knowledge is properly documented. Manufacturing and quality managers must take the knowledge from the SME, and convert it to useable processes and procedures. Most importantly, the local managers must be able to train new staff in the transferred knowledge.

We've all heard the term "tribal knowledge" when describing local processes that are known to work well, but are not documented. "Tribal knowledge" can be trained, but is impossible to maintain when the manufacturer is on the other side of the planet from the subject matter experts.

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