Process Owner role in Problem Investigation/Corrective Action

S

Sardokar

#1
Hello

I work as a quality coordinator for an IT company ( provides IT solutions and services to customers)

Recently we have decided to modify the way we work on problem investigation and corrective actions ,and i would like your opinions and advice

The old way was that when a problem occurs the quality coordinator investigated with all involved departments on the causes of the problem , then a meeting would happen when the "full picture" (root causes) of the problem was clear and we would try to find corrective actions .

Several Serious Problems appeared:

* Departments/department managers started thinking that investigation of a problem was the quality team job ( even if the poroblem affected their department/process)

* No real effort was made by department managers to find corrective actions during the meeting ...so the quality team ended most of the time proposing corrective actions , and the department managers just "noded"

* Corrective actions taken were not always remembered( after a while) or even known by some of the employees of relevant departments


To this end we want to change the way we work as thus :

- Quality team analyses the problem and if serious enough transmits it to the department manager( or department managers if more than one)

- department manager appoints employees or inevstigates himself root cause of problem. After this they submit proposed corrective actions to quality team

-quality team assesses proposed corrective actions and agrees with departments on deadline to judge effectiveness

...


That's the summary of the new method ,,,but a few objections were raised :

* if we have a complaint about Late delivery of a product , who should be the process owner /who should investigate ? Is it the sales manager ? the Logistics team ?

* if more than one process involved in the problem , how should things go? Who should coordinate the investigation and solution finding


Please any opinion/comment is appreciated ... we are trying to improve the Corrective action process :)
 
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K

kgott

#2
In my opinion, if you want to solve the problem you describe get out of the way. The problems you have described are the results of getting in between the process owner and the problem fix.

Problems belong to the person who is accountable to the main person for the processes that produces the goods and services (and the problems.)

Your role is to make sure the approved way of dealing with such problems is followed, to provide whatever help and assistance to the process owner and their people you can. This may be suggesting solutions, course of action, training etc but that is all.

If the process owners wont take responsibility for problems its a management leadership issue and not your responsibility.

Your job job is to support them only, that's all.

Some line management people love to shove their problems off on to someone else and quality and safety people are usually common targets.
 

Sidney Vianna

Post Responsibly
Staff member
Admin
#3
If the process owners wont take responsibility for problems its a management leadership issue and not your responsibility.

Your job job is to support them only, that's all.
The thing is: sometimes a problem might have multiple contributors and most "sophisticated root cause analysis methodologies (i.e. those that take more than 60 seconds to reach a conclusion) call for multi-disciplinary teams, what obviously is unrealistic for many corrective actions.

For example, when the OP mentioned
if we have a complaint about Late delivery of a product , who should be the process owner /who should investigate ? Is it the sales manager ? the Logistics team ?

if more than one process involved in the problem , how should things go? Who should coordinate the investigation and solution finding
Late deliveries might be due to many reasons, such as:
  1. sales people misleading a customer to make a sale
  2. purchasing being late in procuring raw materials for a job
  3. equipment downtime, due to poor maintenance
  4. poor production planning/scheduling
  5. supplier long lead times
  6. poor inventory accuracy
  7. shortages
  8. blackouts/strikes etc.
  9. transportation snafu

So, sometimes, someone has to coordinate the whole effort.
 

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
#4
That someone really needs to have some real authority (derived or deputized from a top line boss) to compel folks to contribute input into the multi-disciplinary approach (engineers, purchasing agents, maintenance folk, production folk, shipping clerks, etc.) as well as have a comprehensive view of the entire operation to
be able to envision the interactions between processes and develop workarounds when one link in the chain gets kinked.

Organizations which incorporate Deming's System of Profound Knowledge (SoPK) are lucky in that they usually don't have one department shirking their share of the task, nor, conversely, trying to take all the glory. The best part of SoPK is there will be many who are "able to envision the interactions between processes and develop workarounds when one link in the chain gets kinked."
 
S

Sardokar

#5
thank you

so if for example the problem is a late delivery and the causes are multi-departmental , (sales delivery terms, purchasing sent supplier PO late, supplier delivered to us with delays,internal goods clearing problem...)

who would be the process owner? who would be in charge of investigation and finding the right corrective actions ?

is the process owner one person ? if not what would prevent people from laying blame on each others and refusing to change the way they work ?

thanks for the help
 

somashekar

Staff member
Super Moderator
#7
thank you

so if for example the problem is a late delivery and the causes are multi-departmental , (sales delivery terms, purchasing sent supplier PO late, supplier delivered to us with delays,internal goods clearing problem...)

who would be the process owner? who would be in charge of investigation and finding the right corrective actions ?

is the process owner one person ? if not what would prevent people from laying blame on each others and refusing to change the way they work ?

thanks for the help
Your company is the bigger process owner, and someone who steers the company gets the prick (if escalated) and begins to demand action.
Before the escalation happens, some responsible manager's chair will begin to prick most in your example problem.
Who will it be ?
 
P

PaulJSmith

#8
...what would prevent people from laying blame on each others and refusing to change the way they work ?
One of the greatest benefits you can provide to your organization would be to steer them in a more positive direction by redirecting those thoughts of blaming someone into thoughts of "How can we prevent this from happening again?" Blame is only effective as a punitive tool. The goal should be to eliminate errors, not punish for them.

Try approaching them from that angle, and I think you might see a very different response.
 
K

kgott

#9
Hello

I work as a quality coordinator for an IT company ( provides IT solutions and services to customers)

Recently we have decided to modify the way we work on problem investigation and corrective actions ,and i would like your opinions and advice

The old way was that when a problem occurs the quality coordinator investigated with all involved departments on the causes of the problem , then a meeting would happen when the "full picture" (root causes) of the problem was clear and we would try to find corrective actions .

Several Serious Problems appeared:

* Departments/department managers started thinking that investigation of a problem was the quality team job ( even if the poroblem affected their department/process)

* No real effort was made by department managers to find corrective actions during the meeting ...so the quality team ended most of the time proposing corrective actions , and the department managers just "noded"

* Corrective actions taken were not always remembered( after a while) or even known by some of the employees of relevant departments


To this end we want to change the way we work as thus :

- Quality team analyses the problem and if serious enough transmits it to the department manager( or department managers if more than one)

- department manager appoints employees or inevstigates himself root cause of problem. After this they submit proposed corrective actions to quality team

-quality team assesses proposed corrective actions and agrees with departments on deadline to judge effectiveness

...


That's the summary of the new method ,,,but a few objections were raised :

* if we have a complaint about Late delivery of a product , who should be the process owner /who should investigate ? Is it the sales manager ? the Logistics team ?

* if more than one process involved in the problem , how should things go? Who should coordinate the investigation and solution finding


Please any opinion/comment is appreciated ... we are trying to improve the Corrective action process :)
Issues like this can be dealt with by esculating and explaining the nature of the problem to the powers that be as it requires their intervention and participation in resolving these sorts of matters.

These are the people who will define the actions required and who is to the do them.

IMO, Quality Function people are helpers and facilitators and they should stay out the 'get-the-work, do-the-work, get-paid' processes.
 
S

SmallBizDave

#10
You've swung the pendulum from the QA group being the owner of all problems to the QA group being the police approving (or not) what others are doing. Perhaps management can designate a process owner for the cross-departmental issues. That would be a way to get some participation from the higher-ups. Then QA can participate as a peer member of the group.

As some posters have suggested, it sounds like you have a culture that focuses on blame rather than solving the problem. This is most easily solved by top management working to create a team atmosphere by not punishing problems and encouraging solutions. This can also be accomplished by a mid-level manager but it's much tougher.

In my experience, in a blame culture you have many more problems than you know about because everyone (especially managers) hide the problems rather than bringing them to light so they can be addressed.
 
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