The Perfect QMS: One without a Quality Manager? (your opinion wanted!)

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
I think it is not so much the sheer size of the organization as the scope of operations. I can easily envision a thousand employee assembly operation (one product, all components outsourced and brought to one location for final assembly) getting along with some non-professional (no certifications, no specific training in SPC, etc.) executive ALSO having some of the duties of a quality manager while farming out supplier quality oversight to a third party group or team. Easier still to envision a supermarket chain or insurance company with hundreds or thousands of employees with no trained professional as the guy overseeing quality, most likely without "quality" anywhere in his job title.

I find it less credible that a hard-core manufacturing facility would not have a full or part-time quality professional (with or without "quality" anywhere in his job title) to oversee operations with an on-going program of continual improvement, regardless whether the facility had ISO or other registration or whether they ever used the specific term "continual improvement" because it just makes good business sense. In fact I have seen several small to medium sized operations (up to 300 employees) where the "quality manager" function was a subset of the "plant manager" job title and the person did have formal training in various quality engineer tools.
 

Helmut Jilling

Auditor / Consultant
As with so many other things, I think whether a 'Quality Manager' is required or not depends enormously on a number of factors, including the size of the organisation, the context, its degree of maturity in quality and management systems and the culture and leadership of the organisation.

I have seen, and continue to see, many highly effective organisations who do not have any role recognised as 'Quality Manager'. In almost every one of them, the Director, MD or CEO includes the key functions of that role in their role, sometimes delegating out some of the more clerical tasks to subordinate roles. In each case, they expect and hold everyone accountable for quality, and have particular expectiations of their executives/management team. Many, but not most are at the smaller and medium end of the size spectrum.

I have not seen any companies of more than 5-10 employees without someone having that title. I have seen some smaller companies where the QM wears a couple hats.

I think if the company wants to drive innovation and improvement, there needs to be someone in upper management levels who possesses the technical knowledge and responsibility to see it is applied. Managers in other positions, even if they have these skills, have other areas to focus on, and it won't get the attention it deserves. I thnk it could work, theoretically, but don't think this model would be very effective in more than a few unique situations.
 

Paul Simpson

Trusted Information Resource
What's in a name?

I have not seen any companies of more than 5-10 employees without someone having that title. I have seen some smaller companies where the QM wears a couple hats.
I agree it is "normal" for Quality Managers to hold that title but I know of many organizations where it is not the case - a whole host of titles relating to standards, systems, compliance etc.

Let's not forget that the OP was about devolving quality aspects (as they relate to core and support processes) to the people with responsibility for the process / area. Leaving just a rump of "ISO stuff" that could be handled by an administrator as part of his / her duties.

I think if the company wants to drive innovation and improvement, there needs to be someone in upper management levels who possesses the technical knowledge and responsibility to see it is applied. Managers in other positions, even if they have these skills, have other areas to focus on, and it won't get the attention it deserves. I thnk it could work, theoretically, but don't think this model would be very effective in more than a few unique situations.
Agreed with all the good stuff above - but do they have to be called a quality manager and does all the expertise have to reside in one head / pair of hands.

Just as one example - ISO says you have to have a management representative (and they have a series of duties to fulfil) - is it better that is a quality manager or the CEO?
 
B

Benjamin28

I don't really find the idea of having a QMS without a Quality Manager a good one. Some have pointed out that in a perfect world quality is just good business practice and should be inherent in our business and thus not require a quality manager...

The thing that gets me here is how I define the role of the Quality Manager. I think most of us can agree that the Quality discipline applies some pretty unique and sophisticated processes, and therefore requires someone who is intimately familiar with the implementation, application, and management of those tools and systems. I define the quality manager as the brain and the qms the body, it's no use having arms and legs if you don't have the knowledge or coordination to use them.

I do believe you can spend some money and train all your other managers on quality systems etc...but I fail to see the benefit behind reducing one department into a segmented system of non-specialized managers.

I did like the analogy of business ethics...but then again business ethics doesn't require specialized or complex tools and systems. Quality systems, however, do require well trained, intelligent, professional individuals.
 
Q

qualityboi

This is a good point, imo. I've often asked why it is that production is the only business function where inspectors are considered necessary. Why are there no inspectors in Accounts Payable, or sales/marketing? The answer is that everywhere in a company except production, people are expected to know what they're doing and do it correctly the first time, and there just aren't enough errors to justify having a dedicated inspector on hand--the idea is rightly considered ludicrous. A well-led organization shouldn't need a QM, and also shouldn't need a quality department.


Actually I used to work at Boston Financial Data Systems, after I process wires for direct mutual fund payments for Merrill Lynch and Shearson Leaman, we had an entire other row of folks double checking our work. :D That was back in 1986 hopefully things have changed.
 
Q

qualityboi

The role of a quality manager is one that reaches crossfunctionally or horizontally in traditionally vertically managed organizations. I think if a business carefully maps outs its processes and clearly defines process owners and their roles and responsibilities not having a quality manager can happen. I think its as rare as flipping a coin and having it land straight up.
Most companies don't have the maturity or realize the difference between a process owner and a functional area department head. But then again most people have a problem distinguishing a Quality System manager from a QA manager.
One company I worked in supposedly integrated quality into production, all they did is have the QA manager report into manufacturing and changed his title to Test manager. His reponsibilities never changed although the integration did dilute his authority quite a bit.
Of course it could be a great time killer for a second or third party audit, you can spend a good hour explaining the organization structure and all the divvied up duties you have given to different managers in the organization. :D
 
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M

Martijn

I define the quality manager as the brain and the qms the body, it's no use having arms and legs if you don't have the knowledge or coordination to use them.

I guess this is a generally well accepted approach to being a quality manager, I'm in that position myself now at the moment.

I do feel though that this approach has the problem that you will always be mr. Quality, and they are your procedures and your audits and your non conformances. It's these types of "responsibilities issues" that you can prevent by not having a quality manager. now all the problems belong to the process owner, where they should have been in the first place.

I'm still not convinced it's not a good idea :lol:. It might be too difficult for any organization to succesfully implement perhaps, due to a lack of uber-quality-culture, but I do believe it's pros are stronger than it cons.
 

Sidney Vianna

Post Responsibly
Leader
Admin
As long as the Quality Manager is perceived as the manager of quality, instead of a Manager for Quality, we will have a problem.
 

Paul Simpson

Trusted Information Resource
The thing that gets me here is how I define the role of the Quality Manager. I think most of us can agree that the Quality discipline applies some pretty unique and sophisticated processes, and therefore requires someone who is intimately familiar with the implementation, application, and management of those tools and systems.
Hmm. What sophisticated processes are we talking about here? As far as I am aware Quality (as a synthetic discipline) has picked up on processes developed by a range of other functions and applies them. I can't think of any process that I do that couldn't be done by someone else.

Obviously not as well as me, of course. :lol:

I define the quality manager as the brain and the qms the body, it's no use having arms and legs if you don't have the knowledge or coordination to use them.
But the OP is saying if you get others involved and give them ownership you will probably end up with a better system than if the QM sits at the centre and "owns" the QMS and tells others what they have to do.

I do believe you can spend some money and train all your other managers on quality systems etc...but I fail to see the benefit behind reducing one department into a segmented system of non-specialized managers.
Again it comes down to ownership. If the process is mine I will make sure it works - if it is the QM's I will let him / her deal with the cr*p if it goes wrong. The point about cost of training is OK if you believe training is a cost without adding value. If by "spreading the word" you get ownership and people applying even the 7 basic quality tools in their areas then that is investment well made.
 
W

Watchwait

Fascinating, to say the least. OK - next step: does anyone know of an organization who has chosen this path? Or another angle: if you are a very small organization, and are regulated, either by FDA or through an ISO standard, do you have a QM who also performs other functions? Frankly, the more I think about this approach, the more enlightened it becomes. I particularly enjoyed the gentlemen's comment about production being the only function that typically requires internal oversight. Hmmmm...I may just have found a new "consulting opportunity"!!
 
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