Setting Quality Objectives (for the first time)

#1
I recently took a job in Product/Quality Assurance for a small-ish engineering company after transitioning out of a Quality Assurance role in the non-profit sector. The QA role had been vacant for some time when I took on the position, and there were several quality initiatives that had halted or had been seriously altered from policy during the time when that role was vacant. There is only one Quality Assurance role within the company, and so I am trying to figure out many of my responsibilities on my own. I started out by completing a set of internal audits to assess how the company is performing, and I discovered that there were no quality objectives in place, and none had been set in recent memory.

I'm struggling to come up with recommendations for potential quality objectives the company might establish. Do quality objectives need to be set for each Standard Operating Procedure the company has in place? We are in the aerospace engineering industry, and our focus is on developing payloads and flight-level hardware for NASA. We don't do mass production--many of our projects are n=1. My background is not in engineering, and I'm not sure what the scope or content of a quality objective should be. Does anyone have suggestions for initial quality objectives? Thank you in advance for your assistance!
 
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Sidney Vianna

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#2
Welcome to the Cove. Quality objectives should address issues of significance to your customers and your organization's performance. From the little you described, I would suggest that you consider the following as examples:
  • Improvement of definition of unclear requirements during order review (one-off aero-engineering projects suffer from ill defined requirements; i.e., a lot of uncertainty when reviewing what customers really want)
  • On time delivery improvement (another typical problem for unique, highly engineered aero devices).
  • Establish compliance with NASA-STD-8739.6 Workmanship Standard.
Again, just examples of potential relevant quality objectives taking into account your context and customer(s).

Good luck.
 

Al Rosen

Holed-up in a Hotel in South Florida
Staff member
Super Moderator
#3
I recently took a job in Product/Quality Assurance for a small-ish engineering company after transitioning out of a Quality Assurance role in the non-profit sector. The QA role had been vacant for some time when I took on the position, and there were several quality initiatives that had halted or had been seriously altered from policy during the time when that role was vacant. There is only one Quality Assurance role within the company, and so I am trying to figure out many of my responsibilities on my own. I started out by completing a set of internal audits to assess how the company is performing, and I discovered that there were no quality objectives in place, and none had been set in recent memory.

I'm struggling to come up with recommendations for potential quality objectives the company might establish. Do quality objectives need to be set for each Standard Operating Procedure the company has in place? We are in the aerospace engineering industry, and our focus is on developing payloads and flight-level hardware for NASA. We don't do mass production--many of our projects are n=1. My background is not in engineering, and I'm not sure what the scope or content of a quality objective should be. Does anyone have suggestions for initial quality objectives? Thank you in advance for your assistance!
Time to complete engineering/design changes could be one.
 

John Broomfield

Staff member
Super Moderator
#4
Each of your system’s processes should have an objective so your colleagues can determine its effectiveness.

Are even the process objectives missing?

System objectives (aka quality objectives) focus more on improving customer service (may include product reliability) which should be fulfilled by the relevant processes in your organization working as a system.

The faded commitment to the old objectives may be a symptom of entropy (the natural tendency to disorder) or poor leadership in setting objectives that help everyone fulfill your company’s mission.

Discuss your organization’s mission with your top management and process owners so they may commit to contributory quality objectives while identifying the processes (or projects) needed to fulfill them.
 
#5
Thank you for your replies and advice! To my knowledge, the company doesn't have clearly-defined process objectives (or process owners) for many of its process areas. The QA role has been filled by at least five different people within the last ten years, and I think that the turnover rate has definitely contributed to some level of entropy--even though our processes appear on the surface to be functioning well, I know there is ample room for improvement (although sometimes it seems like a daunting task to be the one person tasked with identifying and remedying many of these instances).

I feel that reducing the amount of time spent on the design process could be a very worthwhile goal to start with, as well as setting the goal for on-time delivery of flight-level hardware. I'll do some more research, but I'm hoping that top-level management will help to guide the goal-setting process as much as possible.

Thanks again!
 
#6
Setting (quality) objectives comes from an understanding from top management to everyone else, that "Right First Time" and "on Time" are 2 fundamental principles which have to be grasped very well. From that, each process can be viewed and, as appropriate, goals set. Obviously, if a particular process doesn't have a good "Right First Time" capability, you may have to measure what it actually DOES give and set a higher goal to get improvement etc.
 

Sidney Vianna

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#7
I'll do some more research, but I'm hoping that top-level management will help to guide the goal-setting process as much as possible.
One of the biggest challenges dealing with top management of the organization when setting/deciding quality objectives is the fact that, many times, they want to focus on business objectives, which, some times, clash with quality objectives. This issue has been discussed numerous times here. One of the longest threads on the subject is the Quality Objectives - Is this an audit nonconformity? discussion.

Shared just for your "edification". ;)

Good luck.
PS. Remember this: All quality objectives are business objectives, but NOT all business objectives are quality objectives.
 

somashekar

Staff member
Super Moderator
#8
Thank you for your replies and advice! To my knowledge, the company doesn't have clearly-defined process objectives (or process owners) for many of its process areas. The QA role has been filled by at least five different people within the last ten years, and I think that the turnover rate has definitely contributed to some level of entropy--even though our processes appear on the surface to be functioning well, I know there is ample room for improvement (although sometimes it seems like a daunting task to be the one person tasked with identifying and remedying many of these instances).

I feel that reducing the amount of time spent on the design process could be a very worthwhile goal to start with, as well as setting the goal for on-time delivery of flight-level hardware. I'll do some more research, but I'm hoping that top-level management will help to guide the goal-setting process as much as possible.

Thanks again!
Hi... Welcome to your Forum. The "I feel" factor could be good or bad as far as the setting objective is concerned.
Lets first agree that every process or area does not need a quality objective to be set. So the number of objectives is not a concern.
Its best to discuss with the management (or who ever matter and have the authority) what they feel are the pinching thing for the organization. Your good management review will be of the best help, add on top of this the company financial performance feedback.
Then identify the process / area that primarily is causing the pinch. These could be many and you pick the top few (Pareto) ... you can pick the top three or five as you and your management determine
Work on it to define the concern such that you are able to get a measure.... Like
New orders are just 1-2 per month., Rejection in X product is 20%., Machine downtime in Y process is 25% of the available time for use ..........and so on.
You get the process / area of focus and you can have good discussions with the concerned managers and teams so that the understanding of the present situation is clear and .... decide what and possibly when you could possibly target.
Then:
To achieve 3-5 new orders per month, within the next 6 months from the present 1-2 orders per month (Objective for the concerned process / area)
Rejection in X product to be 10% or better from the present 20% level within next 12 months (Objective for the concerned process / area)
Machine downtime in Y process to be 10% or better of the available time for use within next 4 months (Objective for the concerned process / area)
Give the concerned process / area the task to apply the corrective actions (there are various methodology that can be used here, and its a different topic)
With the method to measure being already established, you continue to measure and monitor weekly / fortnightly / monthly as appropriate and see the trending.
Is the trending towards meeting the objective ? Good and way to go
No ? Revisit the actions being taken. If need be, revisit the objective selection itself.
 
Last edited:

Big Jim

Trusted Information Resource
#10
There are four topics that the standard mentions that make a good foundation. Customer satisfaction, product quality, on-time delivery, and supplier performance. To be appropriate objectives they need goals (that's part of the definition of an objective). You get to determine the goals. You may be able to determine based on history, but since there seems to be nothing in place at the moment that might be a bit difficult. You can mine data backward for a few months if your MRP system is developed well enough. There is nothing wrong with guessing an appropriate goal until you have some current data and then adjust the goals accordingly. Here is my suggestion:

1) Customer satisfaction of 80% or higher by annual survey (there are other ways to handle this if you don't like surveys, but they can work well with a bit of insight and diligence)​
2) First pass yield of 95% or higher (how may items make it through final inspection without rejection or rework) An alternative might be Warranty Returns of 2% or less (If you are just starting out you might find it easier to track warranty returns than first pass yield although first pass yield is usually a better indicator of product quality)​
3) On-time Delivery of 90% or higher (track when the order ships compared to the promise date - make sure it is the date committed to, not simply the customer's wish date)​
4) Supplier Performance of 95% or higher (track supplier rejects and their on-time delivery)​
 
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