Matthew W Ford
Northern Kentucky University College of Business



MGT 305
MGT 307
MGT 415
MGT 490
FIN 450



% Diff
QC .xls


News & Info (Updated 06/02/2010 10:49 AM)

Welcome to the web page of MGT 415, Continuous Improvement in Operations. MGT 415 is an undergraduate elective in quality management. A recent syllabus appears below.

The MGT 415 Wall of Achievement has been updated.  Congrats to all top performers.

Confused about how to do quality control problems in Excel (i.e., control charts, process capability)?  Here are some examples.  Included are x-bar, c, and p charts as well as an example of finding process capability index Cp.  Note that if you touch the cells with the red triangle in the corner, a comment card drops down.  You should find these problems good practice for the midterm as well.  Make sure you can work them by hand as well as via Excel.

When doing control chart and process capability problems, you should find this page of QC formulas and factors handy.  You can also access this page under Student Resources in the page border to the left.

Spring 2009 potpourri. Maqs may be back...Managing worker fear of layoffs...At cargo shipper Maersk, slowing down saves money...Assessing your readiness to invest...Accounting rule changes won't solve current economic problems...Info on Business Week's 4th annual evaluation of the top undergraduate b-schools...Extreme lean manufacturing is in...Is the Fed really hyperinflating?...Customer service in a shrinking economy...Maintaining good customer experience at Amazon...Phasing out GM's Saturn brand...Small banks saying no thanks to bailout bucks...Is Exxon weaker than it looks?...Customer focus in retail store layout...Possible turnaround in shipping rates...Current monetary and fiscal policy will likely destroy the value of the currency...Tough times for Barbie...Subway dukes it out with Domino's...Silicon is leaving Silicon Valley...Multinational bank retrenchment...Lessons learned from the US Air crash in NYC...mproved customer focus at Hewlett Packard.

Interested in learning more about financial markets?  Check out Minyanville (it's free!).  Minyanville was founded by my Wall Street friend Todd Harrison to help people learn more about markets so that better financial decisions can be made.  Hope to see you and your friends at the 'Ville. 

Memo Center  
General thoughts on memo writing Prototype memo with comments
Model memos written by students Key to my abbreviated comments written on your memos
Making great tables Making great graphs
Citing your work Gathering credible information

Due dates for upcoming assignments appear below.  Assignments must be submitted in memo format and stapled.  No late work will be accepted.

Due Date Assignment Topic
2/11/09 *REVISED* The CQO's Plan A1 Initiating a quality program
2/11/09 *REVISED* The Monthly Production Shortfall A2 Understanding variation
2/18/09 *Required*REVISED* The Penalty Policy A3 Quality control
2/25/09 *Required*REVISED* Floor Complaints A4 Quality control
3/25/09 *REVISED* Invoice Errors A5 Quality control
4/8/09 *REVISED* The Insurance Claim Team A6 Quality improvement
4/8/09 *REVISED*

Call Center Improvement A7

Quality improvement
4/8/09 Six Sigma Improvement Programs A8 Six Sigma methodology
4/22/09 COB Self-Assessment A9 Quality systems

Here is the official Baldrige website.  You can check out former winners of the Baldrige Award.  You can even download the most recent version of the criteria if interested.

A couple of Six Sigma web resources.  Here is a brief summary of GE's Six Sigma approach.  The iSixSigma website aggregates lots of info on Six Sigma and other quality elements.

Here is some info on the end of term project, as well as a few examples.  Projects are due the final day of class.

Check Business Week's 3rd annual ranking of the best undergraduate b-schools.  Here's info on the top 20 programs, a slide show of various school environments, and an expanded view of schools that were considered in the evaluation.  You'll note that NKU was not considered in the evaluation.  But making this list seems a worthy goal to should for, doesn't it?

A key skill for obtaining a great job and advancing your career is networking.  LinkedIn is a great tool for sharing your capabilities and achievements as well as building your network.  Lots of professionals have plugged into this site.  Consider getting connected.


Continuous Improvement in Operations

MGT 415

Spring 2009

Matt Ford
414 BEP
Office hours: 12 - 1:30 pm, 5 - 6 pm M W                        
(859) 572-1319
(859) 572-5150  (fax)
(859) 572-6559  (department) 

Our Vision

The Haile/US Bank College of Business at Northern Kentucky University will be the preferred choice of students, faculty and organizations in our region, known for excellence in practical instruction, applied research, and public engagement.

Our Mission

Our primary mission is to prepare our students to contribute positively to their organizations and communities. We educate future leaders to perform effectively and ethically in a global environment as professionals in business, public, and social enterprises. Our programs are strengthened by diversity among our students and faculty.

Our faculty and students actively engage in scholarship that is relevant to our academic programs and to the business community. We value all types of rigorous scholarship, with a primary focus on applied and pedagogical intellectual contributions.

We leverage partnerships between students, faculty and the community to continuously improve the educational experience and to enhance the integration of scholarship and public engagement to classroom learning. Our public engagement efforts are designed to enrich our communities.

Course Objectives

The idea behind this course is to provide a framework for organizing and managing a continuous improvement program.  By the time you leave this class, you should be able to:

  • Describe key elements of effective quality control and improvement programs.

  • Apply structured problem-solving methods and tools to improve quality.

  • Identify current trends and benchmark organizations related to quality management.

Catalog Description           

3 credit hours.  Advanced operations management approaches to quality; process and productivity improvement in manufacturing, and service and government organizations; use of case studies, exercises, and/or term projects to show application of management and quantitative concepts.


Open only to students certified as majoring in business disciplines. PREREQ: BAD 305, MGT 305, senior standing, or consent of instructor.

Text (Optional)

Evans, J.R. & Lindsay, W.M. (2008). Managing for quality and performance excellent, 7th ed. Minneapolis: South-West. (older versions ok)

Course Policies

a) Grading Components and Determination 

Exam I


Exam II








Exams.  A combination of short answer, essay, and problems.  Some choice.  Bring blue books.

Assignments.  Do The Penalty Policy, Floor Complaints and one other posted assignment.  Memo format.  Some choice permits selection of topics that interest you.  You’ll also get feedback on business writing style—a rare but valuable managerial skill.  Work in groups if you choose—up to 4 in a group.

Project.  Apply the quality improvement process to a problem of your choice.  Read the “Quality and Personal Values” section in the text for ideas.  Your goal: demonstrate that you can connect structured problem-solving methods to a real problem.  In a report, show how you addressed each of the problem-solving steps.  Work in groups of at least four.

Professionalism This portion of your grade is my assessment of your engagement in class.  It is termed 'professionalism' since it is meant to evaluate mannerisms that you should exhibit as an effective manager.  Since this is a senior-level class, you will be judged more critically in this category. 

Extra Credit.  Will be possible as term unfolds.  More on this later.

b) Attendance

Attendance will not be formally taken.  However, your attendance and participation will impact your professionalism mark.  Moreover, due to the nature of our class discussions, you WILL struggle if you miss a lot of class.

c) Student Rights and Responsibilities

The maintenance of academic standards and integrity includes the obligation not to cheat or plagiarize.  A student who uses a dishonest or deceitful means to obtain a grade is guilty of cheating; a student who submits another’s work as one’s own without adequate attribution is guilty of plagiarism.  Identical work will earn a grade of zero.

Students are fully responsible for learning the course content and material disseminated in the class.  Absences do not release you from this responsibility. 

Please see the NKU Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities at

The College of Business has in addition its own Code of Student Conduct, created by student organizations. Please visit the College website at  For cheaters, I'll enforce this policy to the furthest extent possible.

d) Syllabus Changes and Current Information: Class Website

Dates and assignments documented in this syllabus are subject to change at my discretion, meaning that this paper version of the syllabus will become outdated as the term progresses.  While I’ll try to announce significant changes to our syllabus during class meetings, the electronic version of the syllabus posted on the class website will be constantly updated and provides a definitive reference.  Indeed, our class website is your best source for current course information.  Refer to it often…

e) Guiding Principles

  • You are training to be effective managers.  Be responsible for your development.

  • Manage deadlines and conflicts like the workplace.  Plan and notify ahead.  Avoid surprises.

  • No grades given out over phone or email.  You'll have to see me.

  • My role is to help you achieve your goals.

Tentative Schedule


Topic Related Readings Assignments and Links


History; Organizing for quality   Study note guide 

memo tips; sample memo

Course syllabus


Defining quality; Gurus 3M's Innovation Crisis

Rewiring Westinghouse


model memos

Book Borrow

EC Credit Markets

M3 Money Supply

Consumer Debt


Understanding variation



The CQO's Plan A1

Red Beads EC

Dean's thoughts


Understanding variation    The Monthly Production Shortfall A2

QC formulas and factors

Fortune subscription info


Quality control


  The Penalty Policy A3

QC Examples in Excel

Student resource page


Quality control (cont'd)


  Floor Complaints A4

QC Study Problems


Quality control (cont'd)


  Exploration v Exploitation EC



Exam I


  Invoice Errors A5

Project thoughts; QIP examples

3/9 Spring Break!  

Quality Tools Examples

Best Undergrad B-Schools

3/16 Quality improvement teams



QTools EC

Career Choices


Personal Balance Sheets

3/23 Structured problem solving


  The Insurance Claim Team A6

Baldrige website

COB Business Week

Business Week EC

Diagnosing QIP Issues

3/30 Structured problem solving (cont'd); Useful quality tools


Six Sigma: So Yesterday?

A Dynamo Called Danaher

Why Six Sigma is on the Downslope


Call Center Improvement A7

Center for Quality of Management

GE Six Sigma


4/6 Six Sigma; Quality systems


  Six Sigma Improvement Programs A8

Baldrige CPE

International Organization for Standardization website

ISO 9000 intro

flow charts

Speaker bio

4/13 Quality systems (cont'd)



Facilitating Quality

EC Greatness

4/20 Customer focus Rubbing Customers the Right Way

Customer Service Champs  slide show

'The Consumer is Boss'

Maintaining Good Customer Experience at Amazon


COB Self-Assessment A9

Sample projects

Resume thoughts

4/27 Measuring performance for improvement


Customer Service in a Shrinking Economy Projects due

Viox Services, Inc

5/4 Exam II


  Campus exam schedule



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