Decagon Devices: Plans, Products, Projects, Procedures and ISO 9001 Quality Management

ImageDecagon Devices ( designs, manufactures and markets scientific instruments used to measure water, light and heat in the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum. Decagon devices are used by 80% of the top one hundred food companies to measure water activity in food; by farms to measure soil for water and nutrient use; and by NASA where Decagon devices were sent to Mars to measure humidity and wind. Decagon deployed Traction® TeamPage for project management, ISO certification of their procedure management, internal corporate communications and knowledge management.

Decagon Devices Grows Up

About 12 years ago Decagon needed to transition from a small family start up - founded in 1983 and managed by Dr. Gaylon Campbell and children - to a company that supports many families. Decagon is now at 120 employees and growing. Tamsin Jolley, past president, and current president Scott Campbell are Gaylon's children.

It remains important to the founders that Decagon keeps its core commitment to customers and quality, as well as a unique family-friendly company culture which earned Decagon Wall Street Journal Top Small Workplaces recognition in 2008.

This lead to Decagon's Lean initiative, leveraging ISO certification as a driver to document tribal knowledge, making continuous improvement part of everyday work, and chart he company's future.

Decagon Deploys Traction TeamPage

The team at Decagon deployed Traction TeamPage in December 2008 and expanded TeamPage use to include everyone in the company. Uses include:

  • Company-wide information sharing
  • Product Management
  • Project Management
  • Change Management
  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and Training

Company-Wide Information Sharing

Decagon opens up TeamPage to all employees and their daily work. This includes a consistent flow of headlines, trip and meeting reports, healthcare updates and key new employee information. An Employee Spotlight section adds a personal element and reinforces Decagon's core value: maintaining a tight knit employee community.

Product Management

Each Decagon product has a space in TeamPage. Product research and development are tracked from R&D through a phase-gate process to Phase 3 release and finally to Production and product updates.

Product development goes beyond basic tasking to include capturing discussion and key actions throughout a product's lifetime. In the example (left), you see the TeamPage dashboard for the Aqualab product. This gives a bird's eye view of everything from design specs to marketing materials, phase gate reviews, meeting notes and team member roles. This makes it easy to keep up to date or bring a new team member on board.

Project Management

Company-wide projects are also managed in TeamPage. One example is Decagon's transition to Lead Free / RoHS compliance. This company wide initiative required Decagon to eliminate use of lead in all products. The Lead Free Initiative spanned several years, requiring careful attention and involvement of key people from different parts of the company at different stages. The Lead Free TeamPage space at Decagon offers easy access to artifacts that are created throughout the initiative, including cleanliness reports, board meetings notes, and test outcomes.

Change Management

Decagon established a set of simple core processes to support its efforts to improve efficiency and quality in all areas of the company:

  • Corrective and preventive actions (CAPA)
  • Engineering change orders (ECO)
  • Failure analysis (FA)
  • Audits

Decagon is an "all-hands" company, taking suggestions from everyone to maintain an open, inclusive culture. Anyone in the company can submit a request to change a process, fix a problem, enhance a product, or audit a system. These requests are submitted using TeamPage templates. Each submission moves through the submitted, active, completed (or discontinued) phases marked with tags in TeamPage. CAPA Change Management applies to all processes of the company, not just product development and support.

The Decagon-wide change management space is called CAPA. It has two key elements. First, a simple template for CAPAs and ECOs. Second, a CAPA dashboard used to submit a change request. The Add button pops up a TeamPage template developed by Decagon that's easy for anyone to understand and track as it moves through the CAPA process.

Templates are easy for Decagon to change because each is based on a standard TeamPage article that's copied as the starting point for a new article with the push of a button. When the template is filled in and posted, it appears in one of the Submitted sections on the CAPA dashboard. The employees involved in evaluating changes can then manage their work and move changes through the CAPA process.

TeamPage comment features make it easy to discuss suggested changes and allow anyone to chime in if they have further ideas or concerns about a potential change.

Standard Operating Procedures and Training

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) describe Decagon procedures in Marketing, Sales, Administration, Customer Support as well as Engineering and Operations. As part of Decagon's Quality Management initiative, all SOPs are now written, reviewed and used as living TeamPage articles. Printed copies of standard operating procedures, work instructions and similar materials are considered obsolete.

Training procedures are also managed in TeamPage. A Training Matrix by area/department identifies training needed. Training facilitators and managers use TeamPage add notes to certify when training was completed and who was trained.

Edit history makes it easy to see what version of an SOP was used to train any given employee

The SOP dashboard shown at above breaks out standard operating procedures by department or function. TeamPage's draft review process is used to review and discuss work in progress revisions before a change update is approved. Changes to a SOP may be made in response to issues raised or changes proposed by CAPAs; if so, the CAPs and SOP are linked in TeamPage. SOPs become living documents, including a record of discussion and rationale explaining how the SOPs evolved.

Decagon Dashboards and Attivio Search

TeamPage dashboards organize information for one-click navigation based on tags, article types, and other selectors you control using TeamPage's Section Editor. For information that isn’t on a Dashboard, the Attivio Search option adds simple, yet exceptionally powerful search and content navigation across everything in TeamPage, including content, documents, tags and user profiles. Faceted navigation makes it easy to navigate or refine search results by article type, author, date and automatically recognized key phrase, person, company name, location and other attributes.

The combination of TeamPage Dashboards, search, and content navigation makes everything in TeamPage much easier for people at Decagon to find and use as part of an ISO 9001 process versus scattered email, spreadsheets, and documents stuffed in file servers or hidden on each person's computer.

ISO 9001 Certification for the TeamPage Quality Management System

Decagon Devices recently completed a three year renewal of their ISO certification. Their certification recognizes “their quality management system demonstrated in conformance with ISO 9001:2008.” TeamPage is at the heart of the quality management system. Decagon's ISO 9001 certificate is posted into their Quality Management System space along with other key lean manufacturing (LMS), Quality Management and ISO related information and meeting agendas.

Decagon Devices Gets Productive With TeamPage

Company wide information sharing, product management, project management, SOPs and training, and ISO compliant quality management are all good individual use cases for Traction TeamPage. When you combine all of these uses for a single company, the benefits really multiply. TeamPage Profiles, personal notification, and personal Task summaries are directly connected to the collaboratively created plans, specifications, SOP's and other procedures that make ISO 9001 Quality Management work well and deliver high quality, successful products and services.

Decagon uses TeamPage with Attivio search as a complete collaboration, action tracking, search and change management solution for administration, sales, marketing, and support as well as engineering and product development processes. TeamPage helps Decagon run their business the way they want it to run, as a high quality, innovative, successful, and employee friendly company.

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