Leadership Role in Designing QMS - Upper Management Support

A

andrev

#1
Considering that in 2015 Leadership commitment is an even higher aspect as previous 2008.

I am responsible for managing the QMS in a small concern, 36 employees, and although I designed and implemented a system 10 years ago, the system has limitations as I cannot get management to discuss things like processes, procedures, training policies, responsibilities & authorities etc, they simply don't put pen to a document or give me advice on what they need.

For instance, I can develop a process but they wont take it into the factory and discuss it with the relevant employees, so the process can be implemented. I have no authority whatsoever, so if I try to tell the relevant employees this is what is required of them they simply don't comply to the process document and do things they feel comfortable with, management don't care as long as the job is done and the product gets invoiced. Point is that all my documents in the QMS is having no effect whatsoever on the business, and I cannot give the auditors anything they want.

I cannot decide for management what their policy should say, but they refuse to discuss it with me or even give me a hint of what should be in the policy. How do I manage such an QMS
 
Elsmar Forum Sponsor
#2
Please excuse the assumptions and these are certainly not personal attacks, I do not know you at all! Just what I've seen from our quality teams and how we have some strategies that have sometimes been able to get through to management. Also, what kind of net profit margin do you have, this makes a world of difference in what they should be willing to do. We make low margin, commodity medical devices in factories that are running near capacity. So we have to use the language of costs savings or profit margin increases or production efficiency.

Their problems:

1. Bad corporate governance. Your comments should somehow be captured. Have you ever addressed the board of directors? You should have at least quarterly/semi-annual/annual access.
2. Low commitment to quality. Well, maybe that's not fair. They may have a low commitment to the quality system and may not see exactly how that ties into quality.
3. Lack of bad experiences to learn from. Bad experience means something hitting the top or bottom line hard based upon something you had previously warned them about.
4. Lack of foresight to understand that bad experiences are expensive teachers. Do they understand preventative maintenance (of the QMS itself not the machinery)? Are there any car people there? Can you explain it to them in those terms?
5. If it ain't broke don't fix it. If your quality system runs well, then they don't see the problems. How can they commit to continuous improvement?

Your problems:

1. Failure to communicate in commercial terms. If you don't do x, it will cost you y. If you do z, it will save you a. Our competition has implemented b, and we will lose c of orders. If we implement d, we will be more competitive and capture e of market share. Marketing has said the customer wants specification f, in order to deliver that we need to do g.
2. Failure to prevent them from donning the IT blinders. At least IT gets resources for fire and forget projects, but for you they may just tune out when you speak and not want to put costs.
3. Always being the bearer of bad news and worrywart. You want management to be happy to see you. Try delivering some good news once in a while. X improved by Y, and if we do Z, we can achieve A.
4. Being perceived as a cost center not a value adder. Tie yourself closely to sales and marketing, not production. You need to be close with production but sales/marketing will always get more attention. New products means new process and a chance to slip some improvement in.
5. Trying to talk to them about things they don't care about and probably don't understand. Find a communication channel that works or some analogies that are attuned to personal interests.
6. Don't you get audited by your customers? This would be the worst/best way - how powerful is this statement: The customer audited us and they won't by x from us unless we do y.
7. Trying to say too much. You may be exasperated by the situation and you have so much you want to say and so few opportunities to say it that once you get started, you may just blurt out too much. Aim small, miss small. Find a cost saving improvement you can make that you can completely pitch in 5 minutes. Then ask for 5 minutes - if you're a "hey boss do you have a minute?" guy who walks out of the office ten minutes later, you need to curb that.
8. Take initiative. I don't know why you say you cannot tell management what their policy should be - isn't that part of your job? Draft up some policy and recommend it for adoption. Don't expect them to generate ideas. Alternatively, ask them very specific, bite-sized questions.

You created this system, it is your baby. You are deep inside of it so it may be difficult for you to communicate effectively because you assume some level of knowledge that is just not there among them.
 
A

andrev

#3
Thank you for your time and reply.

There is no board, management are 2 members of the organization and one is in Australia, other one here in South Africa.

In 10 years no suppliers audit done on us, boss says they waste our time.
. Take initiative. I don't know why you say you cannot tell management what their policy should be - isn't that part of your job? Draft up some policy and recommend it for adoption. Don't expect them to generate ideas. Alternatively, ask them very specific, bite-sized questions.

This I have done for 10 years, they sign every thing I give them, but never read anything I wrote

I go onto factory floor to discuss something with bossman and he says you have a minute ?? He is simply to busy working like a labourer to listen to any of my idea's for the QMS.
 

JoshuaFroud

Involved In Discussions
#6
I have been in a similar situation, where the production and site management were not willing or interested to implement any Quality Related changes as their metrics were products out the door on time. They were indifferent to if this had to be recalled later or failed QC release because all they were monitored on was batches leaving production on time.

It eventually took an audit by our Notified Body giving us a major non-conformance against "Top Management failing to fully resource and support the Quality Management System" before it opened their eyes to the fact that things needed to change. After this, there were rapid and wide-reaching changes made.

I realise this does not help you overly much, but make sure you have documented your concerns, issues and that these have been raised appropriately then if the situation above does occur you have objective evidence that the roadblock in your QMS is management.

Also; you say you have no authority but as the Responsible Party for Quality you should have some form of responsibility to enforce the requirements of any standards you conform to on the business.

How is internal audit going for you? This is usually an excellent way to flag up issues to management. If all Notified Body and Internal audits are returning with no findings and all being well then it can be very difficult to justify an increase in spending on Quality when it may be perceived by management as not required.
 

Golfman25

Trusted Information Resource
#7
IMO, you are doing it backwards. You shouldn't be creating a process (or whatever) and then taking it to the factory floor. You should be creating your procedure from the factory floor. Start at the worker level -- ask what do you do -- and document that. Flowchart your processes -- x to y to z. Then compare with the standard and fill in any gaps -- but make sure your doing so with input form the workers. For example, the standard says "we need documented information of abc, where can we find that?" Figure out if you already have it and/or where it would best fit your process.

Step into the owners/manager shoes. If you come in and start throwing paper at me, I am going to shut down pretty quick. Nobody wants to do something because some standard written by a bunch of know nothings says so. I want to do it because it makes good business sense. Good luck.
 

Eredhel

Quality Manager
#9
Have you all been passing registrar audits? And yes always go to the workers and make procedures from what's actually being done, then make adjustments. Let them be a part of the process and give them plenty of chances for input and feedback.
 
A

andrev

#10
IMO, you are doing it backwards. You shouldn't be creating a process (or whatever) and then taking it to the factory floor. You should be creating your procedure from the factory floor. Start at the worker level -- ask what do you do -- and document that. Flowchart your processes -- x to y to z. Then compare with the standard and fill in any gaps -- but make sure your doing so with input form the workers. For example, the standard says "we need documented information of abc, where can we find that?" Figure out if you already have it and/or where it would best fit your process.

Step into the owners/manager shoes. If you come in and start throwing paper at me, I am going to shut down pretty quick. Nobody wants to do something because some standard written by a bunch of know nothings says so. I want to do it because it makes good business sense. Good luck.
Thank you Golfman, this is some sound advise, I am going to do what you suggest, wheater management wants me keeping production staff out of work or not. Good suggestion.
 
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