Women and Innovation: Claudia Ortega

At L&P, we’re inspired by our colleagues who go above and beyond to enhance our businesses. This month, we’re sharing stories of women at L&P who have improved our products and processes with their creativity and leadership.

Meet Claudia Ortega. Claudia has been with L&P for 17 years. She started as the Quality System Manager at Mary Ann Industries in Villa Rica, GA. She is now part of the Leggett Business Systems Office (LBSO) Quality Management Systems (QMS) team as a Senior Quality System Continuous Improvement (QS/CI) Coordinator.

The LBSO department provides Quality Management System audits and training for several of our Leggett branches. As a result of the pandemic, the LBSO team had to develop ways to perform audits and training remotely.

“Claudia was instrumental in helping develop the remote training materials and process for delivering this training,” says Jeff Howery, Director of Quality Management Systems. “She has continued to expand the program with new offerings and materials to meet our branch’s quality system needs.”

We talked to Claudia about this project, the challenges the LBSO team faced, and how the new training has improved our business.

Can you tell us about the audits and your goals for making these trainings remote?

The main objective of audits is to verify that our branches conform to a series of requirements to guide processes and that they implement them in a way that helps improve operations. A management system audit consists of three main activities: Process observations, interviews with plant personnel, and review of evidence and documentation. These three activities needed to be conducted using remote methods of communication because it was important to perform a complete evaluation of those systems. The goal was to ensure the audits provided valuable and useful information to the branch concerning their process’s effectiveness and management system.

How did you work through the obstacles of doing remote audits?

First, we revisited how we planned the audits. It was necessary to be flexible and have more work done before the audit date to confirm logistics and infrastructure needs with the facility. For example, we inquired whether the branch could do video or voice calls.

We developed a document explaining how the remote audit process would work and a pre-audit checklist for the branches to complete and submit to plan the audit agenda. This document helped us understand the capabilities and constraints the branches may have and plan the audit accordingly. The branches have been very receptive, and although it has been challenging, the process has been effective and helpful in assessing conformity and effectiveness as well as identifying opportunities for improvement.

What were your challenges with taking training remotely, and how did you work through it?

The challenge related to training was adapting a program developed to be performed on-site to a remote format that was both manageable and helpful for the branches and the participants. The duration and content of the training were two of the main things that needed to be adjusted.

We restructured the content to flow better in the time allocated to complete the training. We also developed activities to assess the participants’ understanding and provide opportunities for participation and interaction. Although it has its limitations, it has provided the opportunity to bring branches from different locations together. It has also become more accessible because participants can enroll and attend training without leaving their branch.

We also developed tools such as templates, tables, and flowcharts to provide branches with examples and guides. We distribute a quarterly training calendar, and the branches enroll participants in their selected topics. The response has been great! They have been very receptive and interested in improving their systems, which is the focus of these webinars – to create content that would help the branches enhance their management system and, as a result, the effectiveness of their operations.

Thank you, Claudia, for exhibiting our value of taking ownership and raising the bar!