New to QMS Coordinator Position... Am I in over my head?

J

JaimeB

#1
First of all, I would like to thank all who answer questions at the Cove, I have found this forum to be invaluable as I acclimate myself to my new position as the QMS coordinator at a small aerospace engineering firm.

A little background...I started this position a week ago. I was hired more for my writing and organizational abilities than for my knowledge of QMS or AS9100. Prior to this position, my experience was mainly in the field of mid-size call center management for an ISO9000 certified medical device manufacturer. As such, I have participated in several internal audits and was responsible for ensuring those who reported to me were adhering to the SOPs that applied to our group.

That said, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. Before I arrived, my new employer hired a consulting firm who basically churned out a canned QM and 17 canned procedures. In additon, the procedures they created seem to cover more of what the consulting firm thought should be done, rather than what we actually are doing.

I guess the reason for my post is two fold - In your opinions, is it possible for someone with a limited background in QMS to be successful in a role such as mine? What advice can you offer me on how to tackle this? Any suggestions of free online training that would be helpful?

I know this is kind of a lame post, but I really could use some reassurance and/or advice.

Thank you in advance for your consideration.
 
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Sidney Vianna

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Leader
Admin
#2
Re: Help! New to QMS Coordinator Position...am I in over my head?

I guess the reason for my post is two fold - In your opinions, is it possible for someone with a limited background in QMS to be successful in a role such as mine?
Welcome to The Cove.

The answer to your question depends pretty much on the definition of "success". For MANY people out there, in similar roles as yours, their measure of success is to endure undergo third-party audits without a lot of nonconformities and, maintain certification to a standard, such as ISO 9001 and AS9100. As such, many people less qualified than you (your written communication skills are very good) are tremendously successful. So, you can do it, too.

If being successful mean, on the other hand, increase in operational efficiency, embedding quality into business processes, enhancing customer satisfaction, etc...I doubt you can succeed. Not because of you, but of your employer. Any organization that hires a consulting outfit that crams canned procedures as a feeble attempt to develop a QMS is destined to fail. It shows lack of knowledge, vision, competence and true leadership. I doubt you will find fulfillment and professional satisfaction where you are.

As for places to learn freely from, you are in it. Just fire your questions and beware of crossfire...
 
C

CGarveyX

#3
Re: Help! New to QMS Coordinator Position...am I in over my head?

I agree a lot with what Sidney Vianna has said. I do believe you can succeed in helping the company develop its QMS. Your previous experience with the ISO9000 series of standards will give you a good base for learning AS9100. A definite first step would be to familiarize yourself with the AS9100 standard. This will not only be important for drafting effective procedures and building a solid QMS, but will also aid in understanding where the 3rd party auditors are coming from and help you deal with any nonconformances they may find.

This is definitely the place to get your questions answered. I have had many a question answered by browsing through the enormous wealth of knowledge contained in the Cove. Your communication and organizing skills will greatly benefit you in transforming the canned SOPs into ones that work for you. Spend time to learn what your procedures truly are and where any gaps are between that and the AS9100 standard. I think once you understand where you are and where you want/need to be, the procedures will be easy to (re)write! You’ll find plenty of examples of procedures, work instructions and forms here (if you haven’t already!).

Taking the next step towards fine tuning the QMS and really working towards continuous improvement may be tough if there is not great buy-in from top management, but one step at a time. There is plenty of information on that as well.

Good luck!
 

yodon

Leader
Super Moderator
#4
Re: Help! New to QMS Coordinator Position...am I in over my head?

I agree with both what Sidney and CGarveyX had to say but wanted to toss another angle out at you. "Success" as Sidney pointed out can be defined multiple ways. If, though, you try to rigidly enforce a system that doesn't fit the company culture, clearly nobody will succeed - no mater what definition.

I would suggest that the first thing to do is to get familiar with those procedures the consultants defined. Then, start TALKING to folks. Understand what they do, why they are doing it, who they do it for, what keeps them from doing things most efficiently, etc. Don't start out as "process cop." Identify the individuals that can be process champions and solicit their help in evolving the QMS.

Given your background, you biggest challenge is likely to be understanding how all the pieces fit together. That's where the Cove can maybe help. If someone says they can only do things one way and your procedures say to do it another, you can post the dilemma here and get good feedback on the issue. You will be challenged balancing whatever drives your organization (regulations, standards, etc.) against how your folks actually do the work. Good luck!
 

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Leader
Admin
#5
Good day jbithell,

Having experience in ISO 9001 is good preparation for more specialized standards like AS9100, depending on your role.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, it may be that you are being asked to deal with things you are not feeling familiar with. It might help to study materials like handbooks like this one.

An organization that goes for "canned" quality management systems and procedures often does so out of a lack of willingness to internally develop the systems, then write them down. Registration becomes a commodity, something they want to buy. I can't say for sure this is the case with your new employer, but if it is the dynamic may prove more challenging than your not feeling familiar with the standard and how it applies to you and your associates.
:2cents:
 
J

JaneB

#6
I was hired more for my writing and organizational abilities than for my knowledge of QMS or AS9100.
That's fine. If I was looking for someone to produce clear and good documentation for a system, I'd choose someone with your abilities over someone who lacked them, even if they had ever so much experience/knowledge of those Standards. You can acquire the knowledge (eg, via research and asking questions) but a lack of ability to organise and write well is much more difficult to compensate for.

Forget the canned stuff - I'd dump it. You say it doesn't cover what you're actually doing - it should. If it doesn't, it's useless. (I hope that it was the failure of that which taught management a lesson and resulted in your hiring).
Put it this way: whatever you produce couldn't possibly be worse, could it? So how can you fail to succeed?

Start with what people actually do, and how. Look for good models. There's a trillion bad ones out there and far fewer good ones (you'll find both represented in the Cove attachments). Or, produce your own. We all have to start somewhere.

When I wrote my first QM and procedures, I was unfamiliar with the world of ISO 9001. But I did have a great background in technical writing and communications, process and procedure analysis, and the ability to analyse, think logically and yes, be organised. I was also lucky enough to have an auditor from Lloyds Register be willing to take an hour or two out of his day and explain what I was supposed to be doing, for which I remain grateful. Go for it.

(Oh, and by the way, the certification auditor was highly impressed by said first QM and procedures).
 
J
#7
1) Welcome to the Cove!!! You've hit the jackpot of information and help here. :agree1:

2) Yes Absolutely you CAN succeed. Much of what you will be doing is little more than common sense. Years ago all of this "documentation stuff" was summarized as "Say what you do and then do what you say"....

3) Already a ton of good advice from really good people above.

Since you have some experience in doing internal audits, I would suggest that the very first thing you do is to perform a system wide audit to the AS standard and (secondarily) to the "canned" procedures you currently have.
This will provide you with some very good benefits.
You will:
1) Have the opportunity to meet the players, key and otherwise, who keep the system running (or not)
2) Learn how the current operation flows.
3) Be able to pick up on strengths and weaknesses in the current system
4) You will be able to quickly discern the needed changes to the canned documents (or perhaps the need to trash them altogether)

Once you've done the audit you will have a lot of good info to build on and frankly the results will likely "tell you" what to do next...

Peace
James
 
#8
Re: Help! New to QMS Coordinator Position...am I in over my head?

I agree a lot with what Sidney Vianna has said. I do believe you can succeed in helping the company develop its QMS. Your previous experience with the ISO9000 series of standards will give you a good base for learning AS9100. A definite first step would be to familiarize yourself with the AS9100 standard. This will not only be important for drafting effective procedures and building a solid QMS, but will also aid in understanding where the 3rd party auditors are coming from and help you deal with any nonconformances they may find.

This is definitely the place to get your questions answered. I have had many a question answered by browsing through the enormous wealth of knowledge contained in the Cove. Your communication and organizing skills will greatly benefit you in transforming the canned SOPs into ones that work for you. Spend time to learn what your procedures truly are and where any gaps are between that and the AS9100 standard. I think once you understand where you are and where you want/need to be, the procedures will be easy to (re)write! You’ll find plenty of examples of procedures, work instructions and forms here (if you haven’t already!).

Taking the next step towards fine tuning the QMS and really working towards continuous improvement may be tough if there is not great buy-in from top management, but one step at a time. There is plenty of information on that as well.

Good luck!
In my opinion this is the best advice within all the good advice here. Start by learning the AS9100C standard. Read the standard. Take a class (a two day or three day internal auditor class would be a wonderful start, as what is stressed is knowledge of the standard).

Somewhere along the line, you would benefit to become familiar with AS9101D, the standard that drives 3rd party auditing for AS9100C. You should find it very beneficial to get a glimpse of how you will be audited. Certainly do this before you undergo your first audit, but probably after you have started with the other great suggestions here (after learning about AS9100C).
 

somashekar

Leader
Admin
#9
Re: Help! New to QMS Coordinator Position...am I in over my head?

That said, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed.
Never feel that you own the QMS. Never ever create the impression amongst others in the organization that you are the QMS owner.
Let everyone know well that QMS is a shared ownership and everyone have their due authority and responsibility in it.
Train, facilitate, Encourage, Do not attempt drastic changes, Look for small improvements and simple correction of the QMS track by a tap here and a nudge there. Pay attention towards internal communications and interactions for healthy progress.
 
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Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Leader
Admin
#10
Such good input so far. :applause:

I second the remark that your not being an expert in QMS could be a gift. Let me explain.

Those of us with much experience are often tempted to write in how we think things should be, vs what they are. We feel more natural using jargon that the true process owners may not understand or feel ownership of - it goes beyond connection.

So as a technical writer you can go around and interview people and write down how they describe what goes on into the process documents. Using a common sense approach, you can notice if different people describe the same thing in different ways, and you can spot when those differences involve how critical tasks are performed. When you flag those, someone will need to facilitate getting those people's minds together and arrive at a common, correct approach.

Once you have got this put down - and I encourage you to use flow charts and avoid thick, encyclopedic procedures when possible - you will be familiar with what is going on. You can then refer to one or more of these references, plus the standard your organization is to adhere to, and compare what happens against what is required to see if anything is missing. Ideally you will not be alone in doing this. Process owners should get involved, I agree this is not your QMS. It is theirs, all of theirs.
:2cents:
 
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