Advice from The Elsmar Cove

Mike S.

Happy to be Alive
Trusted Information Resource
Maybe they want to improve, hence hiring someone to help them.

Yes, expect to wear more than one hat. Some folks like that.

But go into any organization with a "know it all" attitude and you will get backlash.
 

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Leader
Admin
Such good advice so far. :agree:

I have worked in a small, family-owned machine shop and got exactly nowhere in efforts to improve how things are done, in medium-sized companies where I needed patience to have an effect (but eventually did once people were convinced my methods had value) and currently a large organization with maddening bureaucracy and a glimmer of willingness to adopt my contributions... but whether they will stand the test of time is unclear as I am just a "little fish." But my trainings have been well received, as well as my work in Excel to make current tools and tasks easier - like capacity assessment for suppliers.

So I feel hopeful for your prospects, but I agree you should go slowly and gently. One thing at a time, where and when it's needed, and make it as simple as possible. If you have skills in Excel, make tools that are very easy to use so people don't feel they must instantly turn into gurus - because they don't. Ishikawa's 7 Basic Tools are simple, direct and can be leveraged to save money - because that's what it's about, making more money.

I would use simple language like "Wouldn't it be good to do less of XYZ so we could get back to better things like counting money?" ;) or something that appeals to them. I think my #1 takeaway from these 30 years is that one needs to address one's people as internal customers, especially if they have a stake in the outcome you're after.

Best of luck to you!
 

Ed Panek

QA RA Small Med Dev Company
Leader
Super Moderator
I work in a start up of 27 people. It’s taken full decade to get everything working right. It’s med device so I prepare an annual budget or forecast. It’s basically two columns. Things we can do and things we do not know how to do or cannot do.

Things we can do. Design development. Production. Inspection. Shipping receiving. Supplier management. Things we cannot do or should not do. Internal audit (too small) bio compatibility. Drop testing

Be frank with your budget and have quotes in hand to support your budget.
 

gakiss2

Registered
I would say it takes a special sort of person to excel in a small company and I learned through experience, it ain't me. In some industries, such as automotive and others, they HAVE to have someone who can wear the hat during the Audit but the rest of the time they really just want someone to handle the bulk of day to day quality jobs. To me it felt like a demotion as i saw myself doing things I used to do when was making $12 an hour in the 90's. Things like spending hours sorting product, measuring for gage R&R's, doing 98% of all LPA an Audits and etc. When I did work on a 8D the only thing I could write was 'Train the operator" because the plant manager wouldn't spend a dime on anything. All in all, I thought it sucked and I left. On the other hand if you are really into the 'hands-on' of quality then you might love it. Just be prepared to get dirty.
 

Nichole F

Starting to get Involved
I have worked for small (10-50 people) and medium (100-400) size companies and small companies are a very niche working environment. My best advice is make sure you are on the same page as them about expectations of your work. Ask pointed questions and be up front with them about what you are looking for. If they are looking to just scrape through audits and do the bare minimum to get by, you will be very frustrated if your expectations are aiming higher.

Keep in mind that they may not know of or understand quality system tools like you mentioned (FMEA, 5 Whys, etc.). Not everything you want to implement will be important to them either. Most of the time, if you can quantify the cost of quality, it helps support your point. In my experience, Quality can be viewed as a very siloed department and some companies have a culture that quality is only the responsibility of the Quality department. Changing a company's culture is extremely difficult and is a long road.

One benefit to working in a small company is that you do get to wear many hats. It is just the nature of having many tasks completed by few people. It is a great learning opportunity and in the end really does help implement a quality system that works for that company and their products.
 

normzone

Trusted Information Resource
"My best advice is make sure you are on the same page as them about expectations of your work. Ask pointed questions and be up front with them about what you are looking for. If they are looking to just scrape through audits and do the bare minimum to get by, you will be very frustrated if your expectations are aiming higher."

Yeah, I really enjoy working with small outfits, it's possible to find the sources of issues and address them. There's a curve - as the company size increases, that becomes less so.

But I've hired into a clearly seriously dysfunctional small privately held outfit before, and had the owner literally tell me "Fix all our problems, don't make any changes, and don't spend any money". Even with those marching orders, I had a good run of several years before they determined I couldn't fix everything.
 

normzone

Trusted Information Resource
(quoting Ed Panek)
"I prepare an annual budget or forecast. It’s basically two columns. Things we can do and things we do not know how to do or cannot do.

Things we can do. Design development. Production. Inspection. Shipping receiving. Supplier management. Things we cannot do or should not do. Internal audit (too small) bio compatibility. Drop testing

Be frank with your budget and have quotes in hand to support your budget."
That's beautiful - This will be a fun conversation with my boss, thank you.
 
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