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Detail and Examples Promote More Effective Layered Process Audits

In January, AIAG released the 2nd edition of CQI-8, the industry's guideline for Layered Process Audits (LPAs). This new version updates the first edition, released over eight years ago, and clarifies how LPAs support a company's business objective. 

LPA supports business objectives 

Organizations usually rely on two things to keep them focused: A mission statement and key performance indicators or metrics (KPI). The mission statement helps clarify for employees and other stakeholders what this business is - and isn't. This helps all layers in the organization to be on the same page and provides direction for doing the right things. 

On the other side are Key Performance Indicators. KPIs measure how well a company is performing towards its mission and goals. KPIs might be as general as revenue and profit; or may be as specific as defining performance metrics for every department and activity. In a manufacturing setting, these metrics may include parts per minute, scrap, downtime, resource utilization, warranty rate, safety incidents, etc. Most importantly, the KPI - when measured against a goal - tells you if you're winning or losing - gaining ground or losing ground.  Without KPIs and goals, you wouldn't know if your efforts were effective. 

This is where LPAs come in. At its core, LPAs are verifications that the most important standards and controls are in place. These standards and controls are established to show the way, get things right and minimize variation. When a standard is not followed, the downstream effect is a negative impact to a KPI. Conversely, when there is an unfavorable gap in a KPI vs. the established goal, the situation can be analyzed and often an LPA check - or question - could be used to hold the desired behavior in place. 

In a general sense, LPAs provide constant attention to the core processes of an organization - by all levels of management. A well deployed LPA system drives a culture of accountability, discipline and continuous improvement. The result of this minimal effort is tighter alignment toward organizational goals - which is a key to success in this highly competitive global marketplace. 

Make the Questions Meaningful 

The heart of an effective LPA system is the questions. The revised CQI-8 guideline assist in targeting the questions that help prevent causes of the top issues that may impact the organization or its customers.  Questions are dynamic and can be changed frequently - many organizations periodically adjusting the questions to focus on their current areas of concern. 

If you've already implemented LPAs, but they are seen as just another work task instead of the valuable analysis tool they can be, this revised guideline will help you find ways to improve your LPA system. Often it's a matter of simplifying the check sheet, making questions objective and specific, or helping top management see the connection between LPAs and improving performance on their KPIs. Debugging your existing LPAs should start with a review of the questions on your check sheets. The revised CQI-8 guideline provides techniques for writing questions that are value-add, rather than 'classical' quality checks.

If you're new to LPAs, this guideline will help you create LPAs that have a real, measurable impact on KPIs, like quality, delivery, cost, safety and morale. Since reaching established goals for these measures is in the interest of everyone in an organization, it makes sense that all levels of management participant in LPA question development, deployment and ongoing audits. 

AIAG Training supports LPA Implementation 

AIAG offers training to augment the new CQI-8 guideline and support companies that are implementing LPA or are having problems with their current LPA system: 

Layered Process Audits - Sharing Ownership for Quality 
is a ½-day course, designed for company or plant leadership. Content includes:
  • What LPAs are
  • The benefits of LPA, and what they can do for you
  • Utilizing the AIAG CQI-8 guideline to implement or refine LPAs

Upcoming sessions are being held: 

  • Tuesday September 16, 2014 - morning 
  • Monday, November 10, 2014 - morning 
Implementing Layered Process Audits is a 1-day course, designed for the company or plant's LPA Process Owner and LPA Planning and LPA Implementation Teams. Participants will be able to train others in their organization to implement LPA and develop meaningful check sheet questions. Content includes:
  • LPA overview
  • Case study review of the application of LPA
  • LPA Implementation Roadmap
  • Learning key aspects of LPA implementation
  • How to design effective audit questions
  • Ways to improve existing LPA check sheets
  • Management Review and Reporting
  • Practice training presentations and team discussion

The 1-day workshop includes the "LPA-in-a-Box" implementation and training kit, which consists of a facilitator guide, Excel® templates, implementation roadmap, training materials, case study and resources for the management team. 

Upcoming sessions are being:

  • Wednesday, September 17, 2014
  • Tuesday, November 11, 2014 


Do you have a large team to train?  These courses are also offered onsite at your company location.  For further information,  please call 248.358.3570. 

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