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

Helmut Jilling

Auditor / Consultant
Re: What's in a name?

My recent posts have been to say if you get people within the organization looking after what they do then the "sweep up after" quality function is redundant and all the rest can easily be absorbed.


In theory, what you describe would be perfect. But, in the real world, the production manager is going to focus first on getting his work done...the purchasing mgr will focus first on getting his price or whatever...the accounting VP will focus on...God only knows what...

My point is while of course Quality should be everyone's job, they are already overburdened by their first or primary duty. Quality will be a secondary duty. It will not get it's full, rightful place at the table unless there is someone to champion it. I wish it were not so, but that is the general situation as I see it.

If it were not so, there would be no need for an assigned Mgt. Rep., nor a Customer Rep. Besides, automotive customers generally want to talk to the Q Mgr.

PS: "legal" in this context simply means it is complaint with the standard. Not intended to mean legal in the legal sense.:cool:
 
J

JaneB

Martijn,

Most of the organisations I now work with are in the medium/small size. Only a few have someone with the 'Quality Manager' title. (I agree with various posters that the title actually doesn't matter). In the most effective ones I see, the MD or CEO wears the mantle. S/he has a vital interest in making sure that quality is delivered or maintained.

I wonder if one reason for the strong difference of opinion is the preponderance of engineering and/or people from auto/manufacturing firms - which have some distinct differences from service-based ones. Including the need for the QM to know SPC for example.
(NB latest figures = 1/3 of certificates issued now are for services)

I believe it is every QM's responsibility to try and design a low maintenance QMS and deploy responsibilities to the most appropriate person in the organization.
Agree strongly.

One down side to having a 'quality' manager and/or a 'quality' department is that the titles alone suggest it isn't the responsibility of others. The Finance Dept don't see themselves as responible for 'Operations' for example.

I think the reason the Standard mandates a role with responsibility is to make sure that responsibility is recognised and appropriately owned.

I just love it when the executive/MD/CEO says, when I explain what the ISO requirements are in relation to that, 'oh, that's me/I'll be that'.

Maybe it's about conscience, and maybe it is simply a matter of being separate from the other departments and the forces that place their objectives in vital positions and quality as an outcome.

A good QM, on the other hand, has the doing all things well as his or her singular focus and is not measured with the production yardstick. Instead, ideally he/she would be measured with the effectiveness yardstick. I hope that makes sense.

True - I wonder what would be the result if the KPIs were better specified, to include not just production but production to meet defined quality standards as well? In a service business, it's frequently impossible to separate them. If your service stinks, then it stinks. I can't really wrap my head around 'we produced to meet our targets' and 'but not all we produced is up to standard'. Surely the metrics are off? Because if 'productivity' and 'quality' for example are seen as separate, then we have a problem, don't we?

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
I defer to your greater experience & knowledge. My experience & knowledge of hard-core manufacturing businesses is far less than with service ones.

I have not seen any companies of more than 5-10 employees without someone having that title.

And I have. I'm not saying that to disagree with you, merely to make the point that I think our experience often influences what we believe is possible or how things 'should' be.

One organisation I work with (about 30 people), the MD got heavily involved. Instead of having a dedicated QM (tried that & had an empire-builder, plus no responsibility across teams), he embarked on a process of culture change, education and devolving responsibility to a team comprised of the direct reports: a management team.

One year later, he's ecstatic about the difference it has made. Every manager is responsible for quality within their area, & jointly responsible for 'cross border' things. No longer do teams blame other areas/shift responsibility - they all see failures as something they own & must resolve.

The MD holds the torch up high. And their CAs/failures have dramatically declined. Improvements are up. He wants production, yes (they're manufacturing!) and he wants profit but he wants quality of product & service also & he doesn't want recurring, time & $-wasting & customer-annoying failures. He spent some time with the team devising ways of assessing & measuring for each.

As much as possible, they automated the boring/bureaucratic bits, like doc control, and NC/CAs, by using an electronic system (SharePointPortal) to manage & distribute docs, and included raising & alerting of NC/CAs via that as well. It would not have worked without being championed and driven by the MD. But oh, what a wonderful difference it has made.

Returning to the standard model-
I guess this is a generally well accepted approach to being a quality manager... 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..

Yup, I agree.

In theory, what you describe would be perfect. But, in the real world, the production manager is going to focus first on getting his work done...the purchasing mgr will focus first on getting his price or whatever...the accounting VP will focus on...God only knows what...
Hmm. The 'real world' is everyone's reality, including mine. It's not empty fluff and castles in the air. It can work. It does work. I say better align the KPIs, measure against them & hold people accountable for them. Where is the benefit of having 'quality' and 'production' separate?

My point is while of course Quality should be everyone's job, they are already overburdened by their first or primary duty. Quality will be a secondary duty. It will not get it's full, rightful place at the table unless there is someone to champion it.
Absolutely true. I'd like to see everyone owning and championing it, driven from the top.

Yes, I'm an idealist there, I guess. Yes, I accept it doesn't always happen. Doesn't mean I'm not going to keep striving to get there! After all, if we really believe in the value and importance of quality, what better aim to strive for?

Besides, automotive customers generally want to talk to the Q Mgr.
In which case, I might have one. :)
 
C

CliffK

Fascinating, to say the least. OK - next step: does anyone know of an organization who has chosen this path?
In fact I've encountered two. One is an engineering/document management firm that performed subcontract work for USAF; no person with the work "quality" in his job title.

The other is a plastics manufacturer. They have a "quality resource," though. He manages the ISO 17025 and ISO/TS 16949 programs and acts as an internal consultant. He is not responsible for product quality, testing or any production-related process.

[snip]
I particularly enjoyed the gentlemen's comment about production being the only function that typically requires internal oversight.
Not sure if that's true. Capital expenditures, for example, generally require internal oversight in the form of multiple signatures on the requisition. The hiring process gets oversight from HR. I'm sure there are others.
 

Jim Wynne

Leader
Admin
Not sure if that's true. Capital expenditures, for example, generally require internal oversight in the form of multiple signatures on the requisition. The hiring process gets oversight from HR. I'm sure there are others.

As I think I pointed out earlier, none of those types of functions is dedicated to inspection of the work of others. It's not a question of whether anyone else's work is checked or verified (other than production); it's the idea of having people dedicated to doing it. In larger companies there might be dedicated financial auditors, but in general the only work that's considered suspect enough to warrant dedicated inspection resources is that done in production.
 
C

CliffK

If, however, the QM "owns" the documented QMS then documentation is their problem - so if I change my process or responsibilities it is the QM's job to find out and fix the documentation. Similarly if the corrective action procedure is the QM's then I wait until CA is "done" to me rather than seeking out solutions.
This is a real problem by whatever name. The greater the separation between the "quality" function and the "production" function, the worse it issue becomes.
 
C

CliffK

As I think I pointed out earlier, none of those types of functions is dedicated to inspection of the work of others. It's not a question of whether anyone else's work is checked or verified (other than production); it's the idea of having people dedicated to doing it. In larger companies there might be dedicated financial auditors, but in general the only work that's considered suspect enough to warrant dedicated inspection resources is that done in production.
Ah, dedicated resources. Quite right. I missed that word in the post to which I was responding.:eek:
 
C

CliffK

Re: What's in a name?

In theory, what you describe would be perfect. But, in the real world, the production manager is going to focus first on getting his work done...the purchasing mgr will focus first on getting his price or whatever...the accounting VP will focus on...God only knows what...

My point is while of course Quality should be everyone's job, they are already overburdened by their first or primary duty. Quality will be a secondary duty. It will not get it's full, rightful place at the table unless there is someone to champion it. I wish it were not so, but that is the general situation as I see it.

A couple of small stories, if you will indulge me.

A gazillion years ago, when I was servicing Selectrics for a living, a colleague asked our manager, "Do you want me to take a lot of calls or do you want me to do a good job on each call?" (The colleague was suffering from the production-or-quality dilemma.)

Manager's reply? An unsympathetic, "yes," meaning, of course, "both."

And this manager meant it, unlike some managers who talk quality but never make their production subordinates feel the pain of poor quality, while inflicting serious pain over failures to produce in volume.

We knew that if we got behind in our work, there would be, um, let's call it counseling. We also knew there would be counseling if we were creating repeated service calls or complaints by sloppy work.

There was no quality manager in the branch office where I worked. There were about 50 service personnel, four first-line managers and one branch manager who ALL were measured on productivity and customer satisfaction. Falling down in either area would be reflected in our performance ratings and thus in our paychecks.

Who championed quality? We all did, though some did more than others. It was in our financial interests to do so.

Fast forward.

Today I am working with a client who reduced his quality staff by about 75 percent and cut his customer complaints by half, all in the same year. How? First-line supervisors are now part of the team that resolves customer complaints. They get to hear, and sometimes share, the customer's pain and ire first hand. They are also the ones to make the follow-up call, to be sure the problem is really gone.

Is the supervisor called on the carpet, yelled at, made into a scapegoat, sacrificed to appease the angry customer? No. He simply gets to share the experience, feel the heat along with his peers (and sometimes higher management), and make whatever commitments it takes to mollify the customer.

Oh, and there's no quality manager in this manufacturing company any more. There's a quality administrator, but his primary skills are organizational and people management.
 
J

JaneB

As I think I pointed out earlier, none of those types of functions is dedicated to inspection of the work of others. It's not a question of whether anyone else's work is checked or verified (other than production); it's the idea of having people dedicated to doing it. In larger companies there might be dedicated financial auditors, but in general the only work that's considered suspect enough to warrant dedicated inspection resources is that done in production.

Excellent point, Jim.
 
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