QMS Responsiblity and Authority vs. Responsibility but No Authority

B

bdetchevery

Guest
#1
Suppose a company wants to set a goal such that:

All requests to change a procedure are "turned around" within 2 business days. (By turned around I mean, issued, reviewed, approved, and released to the QMS)

Further Suppose that:

1) The "Quality Manager" is "assigned" responsibility for making this happen.
2) The owners and approvers of most procedures are higher up in the company that the QA Manager.
3) There is a massive 'backlog' of change requests that the QA Mgr has approved but they are sitting on the desks of other owners to approve before then can be released.
4) The QA Mgr sends are weekly report and meets once per week with his boss to talk about what change requests are still sitting on his, his boss, and other executive desks for approval.

Time passes and passes and on average it is taking about 3 weeks for a change request to be implemented. The QA Mgr's boss is not happy with this and feels that the QA Mgr is not meeting his/her expectation and should fix this problem.

My Questions:

1) To what extent do you believe the QA Mgr is responsible for ensuring that "higher-ups" complete their approvals.

2) More specifically, to what extent is the QA Mgr responsible for ensuring that his boss completes his/her approvals.

3) The QA Mgr attititude is such that he feels great responsibility for ensuring that those that report to him directly (or indirectly) but not for ensuring that those that are above him perform to their own expectations. In the end, will this attitude harm the QA Manager?..the company ?

I have my own thoughts on this scenario but am seeking others opinions before I commit to my idea. Any input is appreciated.

Thanks.
 

RoxaneB

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
#2
Welcome to the Cove, bdetchevery. :bigwave:

It sounds like the QA Manager has all of the responsibility but none of the authority...in other words, he has the "To Do" list but not the means in which to successfully accomplish the items on it. In order for the goal to be met, he needs both.

Have these goals been communicated to the approvers? Has the QA Manager's boss contacted the approvers to say "Hey...here's what you guys are responsible for when a document lands on your desk or in your inbox"? And if the QA Manager's boss is one of the guilty parties...then there is not much the QA Manager can do. It sounds like management committment is sorely lacking.
 

Jim Wynne

Forum Moderator
Moderator
#3
bdetchevery said:
Suppose a company wants to set a goal such that:

All requests to change a procedure are "turned around" within 2 business days. (By turned around I mean, issued, reviewed, approved, and released to the QMS)

Further Suppose that:

1) The "Quality Manager" is "assigned" responsibility for making this happen.
2) The owners and approvers of most procedures are higher up in the company that the QA Manager.
3) There is a massive 'backlog' of change requests that the QA Mgr has approved but they are sitting on the desks of other owners to approve before then can be released.
4) The QA Mgr sends are weekly report and meets once per week with his boss to talk about what change requests are still sitting on his, his boss, and other executive desks for approval.

Time passes and passes and on average it is taking about 3 weeks for a change request to be implemented. The QA Mgr's boss is not happy with this and feels that the QA Mgr is not meeting his/her expectation and should fix this problem.

My Questions:

1) To what extent do you believe the QA Mgr is responsible for ensuring that "higher-ups" complete their approvals.

2) More specifically, to what extent is the QA Mgr responsible for ensuring that his boss completes his/her approvals.

3) The QA Mgr attititude is such that he feels great responsibility for ensuring that those that report to him directly (or indirectly) but not for ensuring that those that are above him perform to their own expectations. In the end, will this attitude harm the QA Manager?..the company ?

I have my own thoughts on this scenario but am seeking others opinions before I commit to my idea. Any input is appreciated.

Thanks.
Does the three-week turnaround cause problems other than violating the requirement? If so, then evidence should be compiled that shows that things that need to happen aren't happening due to the inattention of the higher-ups. If no harm is being done, change the requirement.
 

Celtic Warrior

Involved In Discussions
#4
Couldn't it be that at least some of the responsibility lays with the QA manager for having accepted sucha target in the first place!
Anyhow given that he is in this position, one option could be to use the approval by default method to acheive his targets.
What I mean is instead of sending out the documents for approval and watching the 2 day window sailon by, then attach a message to the documents which states that the changes proposed will be implemented unless a challenge or altertnative proposal is registered within 48 hrs.
This way he gets to meet his target of 48Hrs or at the very least gets a response to bring about the change.
Take care when using this approach however as it tends to generate a sharp increase in the volume and intensity of the discussion!!:biglaugh:
 

Coury Ferguson

Moderator here to help
Staff member
Super Moderator
#5
bdetchevery said:
Suppose a company wants to set a goal such that:



My Questions:

1) To what extent do you believe the QA Mgr is responsible for ensuring that "higher-ups" complete their approvals.

2) More specifically, to what extent is the QA Mgr responsible for ensuring that his boss completes his/her approvals.

3) The QA Mgr attititude is such that he feels great responsibility for ensuring that those that report to him directly (or indirectly) but not for ensuring that those that are above him perform to their own expectations. In the end, will this attitude harm the QA Manager?..the company ?

I have my own thoughts on this scenario but am seeking others opinions before I commit to my idea. Any input is appreciated.

Thanks.

This sounds like these issues need to be discussed during Management Review Meetings, and documented as action items. In my opinion.
 
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ralphsulser

Inactive Registered Visitor
#6
Also if you have regular MRB meetings, this is a good place to discuss and resolve these issues. I have done this and also used the "default" method posted above. But, look at the look at the 2 day limit as Jim pointed out, and determine if that is a goal or just what is actually required in you system.
If it has been working, then change the specified time limit to fit the practice.
 
B

bdetchevery

Guest
#7
Thanks Everyone ! A bit more info

Thank-you everyone for your ideas and suggestions:

A bit more of the story may be in order:

1) The requirement for the 2 day turn around comes from the QA Mgr's boss
which he got from the President.

2) Upon a discussion of this issue it was determined that the President considered '2 day turn around' to mean the time it takes the QA Manager to submit for approval to owners NOT the time for the entire change to be turned around. The QA Mgr's boss interpreted this requirement differently.

However, the "unresolved" question remains, to what extend is the QA Mgr responsible for ensuring that those that are 'above' him preform their responsibilities.

As for the idea of - "default approval if no response" I did not suggest this to the QA Manager. I have tried this at a company personally in the past and have gotten into trouble on external audits because I could not show that the documents were reviewed and approved by the appropriate personnel prior to issue which generated a non-conformance. In my case I did not have the authority to approve a document by myself, it took the approval of others as well. But I suppose if the "threat" of doing this worked, though it might not work out well for the company.

A bit on "Management Responsibility". In my opinion management is committed to maintaining the QMS that is in place but have reached a "conflict".

Suppose, for example, that I am the Director of Sales for the company that I am talking about. I am also the owner of all process documentation related to the companies sales process. My goals and objectives are to make x number of sales calls / visits per day/month etc, to obtain x contracts, and to ensure that those that report to me are meeting their similar objectives. If you have been in sales, it is not hard to see that this takes up all of my day. Reviewing and signing off on procedural changes is not in my immediate view. If I had to choose between preforming a follow-up call to a potential client or reviewing a procedure and sending my approval, the follow-up call takes precedence. This is my view and the view of the company. So unless someone is "in my face" to review/approve the procedure it will go to the bottom of my list. I know that these approvals are important they just have less importance then making the sale.

You can imagine this for almost any job position. The individuals are hired with certain goals/expectations of the job having more priority then others. If at the end of the day I am rewarded for my actions, even if I left a procedure go for weeks, months, without being updated then everyone believes I am doing my job correctly. If our procedures become 'out of date', I can always claim that the QA Manager did not get after me enough to do the updates.

Top Management can be committed to maintaining a quality management system. Part of that commitment is to lead by example and policies on how individuals should prioritize tasks to 'benefit' the company. In the end the evidence may show this prioritization has unwanted consequences but top management can still choose to interpret the evidence differently and continue down the same path regardless.

Thoughts?
 

Jim Wynne

Forum Moderator
Moderator
#8
bdetchevery said:
1) The requirement for the 2 day turn around comes from the QA Mgr's boss
which he got from the President.

2) Upon a discussion of this issue it was determined that the President considered '2 day turn around' to mean the time it takes the QA Manager to submit for approval to owners NOT the time for the entire change to be turned around. The QA Mgr's boss interpreted this requirement differently.

However, the "unresolved" question remains, to what extend is the QA Mgr responsible for ensuring that those that are 'above' him preform their responsibilities.
I don't see how the question is unresolved. What other responsibilities do upper managers have that the QA manager is blamed for if they don't get done? If the QA manager gets the information to his superiors within the two-day limit, how can he be considered responsible for what happens after that?

bdetchevery said:
As for the idea of - "default approval if no response" I did not suggest this to the QA Manager. I have tried this at a company personally in the past and have gotten into trouble on external audits because I could not show that the documents were reviewed and approved by the appropriate personnel prior to issue which generated a non-conformance. In my case I did not have the authority to approve a document by myself, it took the approval of others as well. But I suppose if the "threat" of doing this worked, though it might not work out well for the company.
In order for the approval-by-default strategy to work, the documentation must be written such that delegation of authority is officially passed down if the assigned approver hasn't acted within a specified period of time. The documentation isn't automatically approved; the authority for approval is tacitly delegated.

bdetchevery said:
A bit on "Management Responsibility". In my opinion management is committed to maintaining the QMS that is in place but have reached a "conflict".
The conflict is created because the top guy hasn't followed Deming's advice and established "constancy of purpose." This is, unfortunately, something you can't do much about outside of pointing out the conflicts and suggesting a better way. Unless nonconflicting, clear priorities have been established, management is not committed to maintaining the quality system, and shouldn't act surprised when it fails.
 
B

bdetchevery

Guest
#9
Interesting Insights - Thank-you.

The questions remains unresolved only from a hypothetical point of view. In my consulting business I want to be a good leader. The reason for this thread is that I was seeking other points of view to the question:

To what extent are employees responsible for the tasks of others whom they have no authority over?

My personal belief is that employees are responsible for the tasks they are assigned, and if they are in a management position they are responsible for the tasks of those that report to them.

Similarly, if you are leading any team activity, whether it be a short term project manager or a quality circle. The leader is responsible for the leadership of the group and each member is responsible for his/her own deliverable. A certain amount of diligence and follow-up is assumed by the leader to ensure the group is on schedule and meeting objectives.

HOWEVER, an employee without specific authority over the team, group or department cannot be responsible IN ANY WAY for the deliverables of the members of the group and should not be told different. Any employee could choose to help the group or other members of the group and provide support as needed, if time permits and such activities would be 'ABOVE and BEYOND' activities and (s)he would b accountable to delivering his/her own results as promised.

Although this is my opinion, I sometimes feel others think differently and I make it a point to always try and remain open to other points of view, hence the questions raised in this thread.

Sometimes, it's best to get back to the basics, and your comment on "constancy of purpose" led me to re-read the universal 14. Perhaps, I am misinterpreting the concept of "constancy of purpose." The organization has setup and published a statement of organization aims and purpose. In addition to the long term strategic plan, evidence exists that each year the company establishes specific measurable objectives to meet the goal. Objectives are broken out not just at top level but are communicated to all departments and finally into specific workplans for employees. Top management believes that they cannot accomplish the goal or the objectives without effective processes in place and continual improvement of these processes. Changes to a process that bring them closer to the goal are productive and evidence of ongoing improvement.

However, upon re-reading the universal 14, I think I might be starting to understand. Perhaps the problem lies within the emphasis on short-term gains. This is leading to a catch-22 because the company MUST meet the short term financial obligations to stay in business. They may not be able to swallow the bitter pill. There may not be room enough to choose a long-term solution if it means the company can no longer stay in business. This seems to suggest though that a QMS is inappropriate for a small business just starting up and that doesn't seem quite right.

Thank-you again for the input though I really appreciate it.
 

Jim Wynne

Forum Moderator
Moderator
#10
bdetchevery said:
Sometimes, it's best to get back to the basics, and your comment on "constancy of purpose" led me to re-read the universal 14. Perhaps, I am misinterpreting the concept of "constancy of purpose." The organization has setup and published a statement of organization aims and purpose. In addition to the long term strategic plan, evidence exists that each year the company establishes specific measurable objectives to meet the goal. Objectives are broken out not just at top level but are communicated to all departments and finally into specific workplans for employees. Top management believes that they cannot accomplish the goal or the objectives without effective processes in place and continual improvement of these processes. Changes to a process that bring them closer to the goal are productive and evidence of ongoing improvement.
"Constancy of purpose" means that there are no conflicting goals or expectations. If top management establishes a requirement for corrective actions to be closed out within x days, but individual managers are given different requirements that conflict with closing out corrective actions on time, then management has made a plan for failure, and the plan will work.
 

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