Useful Tips what to look for as new Leader of Quality Department


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I am starting a new job as a Leader of Quality Department.

I was thinking what would be the most important things to look at in the first weeks to understand how is the company working as a whole and in particular the quality department and of course from where to start first in improving the overall quality performance.

I would first want to see and check the following:

Internal Audit Plan + Findings and corresponding action plan
Department KPI's vs. actual performance
Pareto Charts with top defects in the production + action plan
Cost of Poor Quality and some root-cause analysis
PDCA files and their status, including management reviews
Quality improvement plans (if any)
History of external customer complaints
Customer scorecard (feedback)
Suppliers Performance (best and worse)
Analysis of customer and customer-specific requirements and how this input is transferred in working standards and operating procedures
Inspection check-lists , Control Plan adequacy, FMEA
Upcoming Design Change and relevant risk analysis
Perhaps I am missing something, but I think points above are a good starting point. What do you think?

What are you addressing first when starting job in a new company as part of the Quality and not only? All input and tips are welcomed! I think this can be a great and informative thread.

Thanks all for participating.
Last edited:

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Congratulations on the new job!

I like your list but suggest you move customer complaints higher on the list. But don't stop there, look at the process:
1. How the parts or material was handled: who did what, what happened with the information.
2. Look at the interaction of the processes to see if needed things happened: for example, was it a sub tier supplier issue? Did the actions stop with MRB or did the Supplier Control process get engaged? Was a SCAR issued? If yes, was the SCAR appropriate or just a surface swipe?

Look at metrics, yes but also ask:
1. What do they mean?
2. Do the people whose activities result in these metrics understand the impact they have have?
3. Are the metrics SMART?
4. What happens if they aren't met? Check Management Review for thoughtful response to system indicators, not just calling for the beatings to commence.

I hope you see what I am trying to say. Look at these things, but ask yourself "Are they well designed, effective, well understood and well supported?"

Ed Panek

QA RA Small Med Dev Company
Super Moderator
Check recent CAPA or audit results for duplicate problems. Typically those are deep issues that are not easy to resolve so they tend to resurface.


Super Moderator
Forget all that garbage above! You're a new leader with a herd (anywhere from 2 to 100 or more) of people that you need to do stuff. You need them, they don't need you!

1st, find out who really runs the show, as a new Infantry Lieutenant this would more often than not be your Platoon Sergeant and plainly and clearly ask "How do things work and what do I need to know?" (In the absence of a defined structure there will be that 1 person that everyone considers "the guy" and that's who you get with. All the rest is fluff and gee whiz. (I busted more than 1 lieutenant from the git go and let them crash out of the gate because they came aboard with their college degree and pretty gold bar pointing, demanding and blah, blah. The smart ones made it to Colonel and I've 4 of those to me credit. The last one commanded a combat brigade in Iraq and brought everyone home, he called me in 2010 and thanked me because he had continued to ask questions)


Forum Moderator
Good advice @Randy ! In addition, get out of the office and onto the floor every day to talk to the people. I made it a practice to spend an hour every morning and another hour every afternoon walking the shop floor and talking to the people about their issues. They know what's going on and after you listen and act on what they tell you it builds trust. It will be slow starting off, but if you keep it up and act they will come around.


Involved In Discussions
4. What happens if they aren't met? Check Management Review for thoughtful response to system indicators, not just calling for the beatings to commence.

Auditor: I see that you have identified a nonconformity against process XYZ. What did your root cause analysis show, and what is your corrective action?
Manager: The root cause was that the worker did not follow the procedure, and our corrective action is to beat all workers until they follow the procedure. Daily beatings are also made available to workers who follow procedures but may feel the need for additional motivation!


I've been in this situation a few times. I would lean more toward Randy's advice and really liked Miner's. I have found it good practice to start an Excel file with some high level goals such as your list. Then develop a daily, weekly chores list similar to Miner's advice. Then follow that religiously while you find your footing. Meanwhile listen to Randy. And don't forget to listen to the people who work for you.


Super Moderator
New Lt's that thought they knew everything from the git go and had a pretty yellow bar on their collar and didn't ask questions were the ones that had their tours shortened either during the 1st few contacts or while in the pooper. One very good friend of mine (and very good lawyer) said he came out and home OK by giving the 1st Sgt a few hundred $$$ during a formation and announcing the money goes to the guy who gets the guy who gets me. (Ya always gotta have a plan when confronted with a lack of cooperation).

Ed Panek

QA RA Small Med Dev Company
Super Moderator
Butter Bars! The senior officers would give the rookie ensigns a tough time (In good spirited way though) Although senior officers ran things if you wanted ground truth find the highest ranking enlisted person working on the project. Thats who actually had to make it work.
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