QA and only QA, or Jack of all Duties? Crossing Departmental Boundaries

normzone

Trusted Information Resource
#1
In my early training in the Quality field, one of my instructors stressed that we should always do QA/QC, and only QA/QC, else we find ourselves going down a path that ends to failing in your Quality duties.

His theory was once you go down the road of doing something that another department rightfully owns, then there will never be an end to the non Q duties you will be assigned. Inevitably you will fail at something, and it's only a question of whether you fail at your Q duties or the non-Q duties.

I just crossed the line ( I was pushed! )and now have some non Q responsibility. Traditionally I'd view the tasks as the responsibilities of Design Engineering and Technical Writer.

I know we all work in a "many hats" world, but I'd be interested in your opinions regarding this outlook.
 
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Duke Okes

#2
Re: QA and only QA, or Jack of all duties?

I remember a workshop I attended one time where the instructor said "all boundaries are arbitrary.". For example, I've never seen those lines on the map when I was walking across the earth and went from one state to another.

So it all depends...does crossing the boundary create a conflict due to knowledge, independence, etc.? Certainly in a small organization there are many fewer narrow job functions.
 

Miner

Forum Moderator
Staff member
Admin
#3
Re: QA and only QA, or Jack of all duties?

You can be rigid, or you can be relevant to the needs of the business.

Quality is one of those functions that are usually perceived as a non-value added expense. As such, you are a target every time there are economic downturns.

On the other hand, you can look for ways to bring value to your organization beyond the QA/QC. Market the continual improvement aspect and bring actual value by permanently eliminating problems, preventing new problems.

You do want to avoid taking on garbage roles that no one else wants, but if you refuse to take on any new roles with your existing company, you may find yourself in a new role in a new company.

Always look for ways to remain relevant to your companies needs.
 

normzone

Trusted Information Resource
#4
Re: QA and only QA, or Jack of all duties?

[Duke Okes] - No conflicts of interest, just increased caseload. And we are a small organization.

[Miner] - You're spot on about the perception of Quality as non-value added expense. I've always said that my job is "problem prevention, problem solving, figuring out whose problem it really is".

And the two tasks are not garbage, or I would have balked. They reflect customer requests for technical documents that crop up periodically.

And they offered me additional money to do it, so my grounds for complaint are extremely limited. It just feels weird after avoiding crossing that "arbitrary boundary" for so many years. It's reassuring that you guys are not selecting the flowers for my memorial service yet.
 

howste

Thaumaturge
Super Moderator
#5
Re: QA and only QA, or Jack of all duties?

Well, look at ISO 9001:2015. It actually includes things like:
"The organization shall determine external and internal issues that are relevant to its purpose and its strategic direction..."
"...ensuring the integration of the quality management system requirements into the organization’s business processes..."
"...shall review the organization's quality management system, at planned intervals, to ensure... alignment with the strategic direction of the organization."

The quality system is (and always should have been) integrated with the business. The fact is that everyone in the company should have a quality hat that they wear while they do their regular duties.
 
P

PaulJSmith

#6
Re: QA and only QA, or Jack of all duties?

I completely understand your reservations, normzone. I've always tried to maintain that purity as well ... and in most cases eventually failed. Only when I worked for a huge aerospace company did I not have to cross that proverbial line in the sand. All of the other positions with small- to medium-size companies inevitably ended up getting blurred with non-quality-related duties. It's just a fact of life in small-ish organizations. It hasn't happened yet here at the new place, but I know it will.

Miner's post pretty much nails it.
 

Mark Meer

Trusted Information Resource
#7
Great topic of discussion!

Nerd alert: As someone who played a lot of role-playing games (RPGs) when I was younger, one thing I learned is that the best outcomes comes from specialization. Be it an individual focusing on mastering a particular discipline, or a team of specialists - things generally progress faster, and more efficiently.

That being said, the jack-of-all-trades approach is often more fun, and personally rewarding. :agree1:

As someone working for a small organization, I wear a lot of hats. But this, to me, is what makes the job interesting, and also allows me to feel more "connected" to the company, as my responsibilities span multiple processes at a level deeper than just quality.
I also find it personally fulfilling, as I can develop (albeit not specialize) several skill sets. This makes it an atmosphere of continual learning and personal development, which is always a good thing.

Bottom line (IMHO):
- What's best for the company: probably specialization
- What's best for individuals: continual broadening of skills

MM.
 

somashekar

Staff member
Super Moderator
#8
Re: QA and only QA, or Jack of all duties?

[Duke Okes] - No conflicts of interest, just increased caseload. And we are a small organization.

[Miner] - You're spot on about the perception of Quality as non-value added expense. I've always said that my job is "problem prevention, problem solving, figuring out whose problem it really is".

And the two tasks are not garbage, or I would have balked. They reflect customer requests for technical documents that crop up periodically.

And they offered me additional money to do it, so my grounds for complaint are extremely limited. It just feels weird after avoiding crossing that "arbitrary boundary" for so many years. It's reassuring that you guys are not selecting the flowers for my memorial service yet.
Just be a part of the solution under any given role. The solution provided must have the inbuilt quality aspect and here you will weigh more. Good Luck.
 

Mike S.

Happy to be Alive
Trusted Information Resource
#9
In my early training in the Quality field, one of my instructors stressed that we should always do QA/QC, and only QA/QC, else we find ourselves going down a path that ends to failing in your Quality duties.
I think your instructor was full of book knowledge, not practical experience.

Especially in small organizations, "wearing many hats" may be a business necessity. Would we want "non-QC/QA people to refuse to join our internal audit team based on the same excuses your instructor gave?

In my ~ 30 years working in organizations from startup size to a couple hundred folks, I often wore many hats and it furthered my career in doing so -- from what I learned and from showing I am willing to step in and help wherever I can, just like I would expect people to do if it were my own company.
 

RCH2016

Involved In Discussions
#10
Maybe if you looked at it this way:

If they didn't trust you and think you are incompetent, would they trust you to interact with technical people at your CUSTOMERS? I think not. Also, this is an opportunity to get your name known outside your current employer. Not a bad thing. My advice is to embrace this, and do your best. You may well have been just handed a huge gift.
 
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