Quality Responsible to Production



I need help in understanding how recent organizational and reporting structure changes at our company will comply with ISO requirements on maintaining independence for quality verification activities and internal auditing.

Last week, our President announced that the Quality Managers will now dually report to the Plant Manager and also to the Quality Director. He also stated that if the Quality Manager and the Plant Manager don't agree on issues (product acceptance, disciplinary actions, vacations, etc), the Plant Manager and the Quality Director then will have to reach a decision. The major concern is, of course, product acceptance through QA functions. I might also state that the Plant Managers at each facility are fully hands on and are responsible for ensuring product delivery. They are at a level immediately above the Production Foor Supervisor/Mold Techs.

What does ISO state in regard to a reporting structure where the Quality Director doesn't have the final call on acceptable product and does not have full responsibility for the Quality Dept.? And also with the Quality Department reporting to Production, how does that obviously affect internal auditing? In looking at the 1994 standard, it appears that there is a conflict in on organization freedom and authority and also in verification resources. I need guidance on whether we can be complaint.

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I had a simlar experience when due to company reorganization I, as Quality Manager, was made responsible to the Operations Manager.
Let me tell you this line of responsibility most definately does not work.
If my inspectors find rejects then the Operations Manager, in many cases, signs them off as acceptable against my recomendations. Our customer returns have increased significantly and I am repeatedly told it is a business risk, even though we have had returns for repeat issues.
We are a QS9000 registered company and I dread the next surveilance visit in case we are found by the assessor to be knowingly shipping nonconforming parts to our customer.
I would be most interested to hear, from an assessors perspective, how the standard relates to Quality being responsible to Production!!

M Greenaway

With regard to your management representative the 1994 standard (QS9000) stated that they should have defined authority for ensuring that a quality system is established, implemented and maintained, and report on the performance of the QMS to top management.

This doenst necessarily mean that they should have responsibility and authority for product conformance issues, although in my opinion it would be a little alarming if they did not.

Clause is more specific when it states that personnel need organisational freedom to detect and prevent product nonconformities (etc...). QS9000 explicitly adds to this requirement that personnel responsible for quality should have the authority to stop production if necessary to correct quality problems.

I think you face a tough time at your assessments, not based on your org structure alone, but more on your organisational freedoms.


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Once again, I'm probably gonna step in it, but YES, it can work. My last position was at a small division where I reported to the operations manager. (directly over the dept. managers and/or supervisors). While he was not necessarily a big proponent of ISO or QS per se, he understood why we were seeking registration and did everything in his power to assist the process. i.e. he was open minded and fair.

At my current division, quality techs report directly to the production supervisors as far as the day-to-day stuff goes. Anything big, out-of-the ordinary, or nonconforming gets coordinated through the technical (quality) staff.

So, enough of the rambling, it works here because we all have accepted the culture that allows it to work. Nobody wants to send nonconforming product out. Our quality group spends more time by far assuring the production guys that the piece is really OK, than it does finding bad stuff that got through. We'll keep training folks so they feel more confident in their decisions.

So, only you can know if your company has the culture to work this way. It either will or not, and if not, do you have the support you need to change the paradigm?


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how we do it

Just my 2 nickels on how we do it....

I truly don't report to any one but the owner of the company. But on a daily basis I take directions from the plant manager. There have been occasions where he overrode a rejection of ours, but to quote him directly "I will take the heat if I am wrong". In other words, the PM knows he is ultimately responsible for the quality of the product sent to our customers.

My point is, it really doesn't matter who makes the final decision, but how the company runs it's business.




Fully vaccinated are you?
I've seen such a relationship work well. If it doesn't there's too much political / power in-fighting in a company which will lead to problems no matter what one does.


I agree as long as everyone works together that any organizational set up will work.
As a quality manager I have a few policies in place such as: If you are going to ship product that is nonconforming: Give me a root casue and a corrective action to go with it. I dont care if they ship the plant manager, I just need to know why it was done and a permanent fix to the problem or a preventive measure in place so that it does not happen again.

Most all of us want to ship good quality product but Life happens.
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