When Quality Assurance Answers to Production

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#1
When Quality Assurance Answers to Production - Who should quality report to?

I liked this dialogue:

Subject: COMMENT: To Org Chart Or Not, To QC or Not /Naish
Date: Fri, 13 Aug 1999 10:07:45 -0600
From: PNaish

I frequently see this thread or the concept of Quality Control and who they should report to.

Once again I feel obligated to present a concept where there is either no QC or QC does report to production.

My first thought relates to quality Control versus Quality Assurance. I still hear control used alot. This seems strange since ISO focuses on prevention and not on catching it before it gets out. While catching bad product is also important to ensure customer satisfaction the most cost effective measures are prevention not capture.

A second thought is the need for QC or QA as a separate group. A number of my clients have no QC or QA function as such. They simply have another employee check the work being done. They usually do this as a part of the next process while they are performing that next process. This includes packaging checking for the right product codes and the like before putting it into the box. And then Shipping checks the label before putting on the weigh bill. This reduces non value added processing and still allows for verification.

The same thing holds true in manufacturing. One department verifies what they are using is correct before building it into the product or process they are at.

I know some think this is not real world but I can show you companies which practice this religiously. And they are the ones with error rates both internal and external at less than .1% routinely. They can make more profit off less cost by ensuring each step verifies it is correct before going on.

Now back to the idea of QC not reporting to production. If one practices prevention and criteria is clearly defined why is there a problem with QC working for production? This says you can't trust production. If you can't trust production what difference does it make who QC works for since production can always find a way to get it out.

I remember a number of years back when I worked at Intel. We had QC gates after each process including a post packaging audit. We found it funny when we got back three boxes from a customer one month that had been received with nothing in them. And another month the product had a candy bar in it. This was many years ago before ISO and I am sure this does not happen as regularly as it did then. But all the QC did not prevent bad product or in this case missing product from being shipped to the customer.

I also remember my years at RadiSys Corporation when I was the QA Manager. I reported directly to the Director of Manufacturing. At that time all production worked directly for him. I never once had to argue with him about sending out product that was bad quality or did not meet the customer's needs. In fact if there was ever a question and I wasn't around he always had the product reworked just in case. Some of the time I would have shipped it as it met the standards but the workers were being cautious and wanted it to look its best. (The issue was over a slightly tilted component that was not functionally affected by the tilt. It just didn't look as good as it could.) Here again it was a test technician who found it as he was doing his tests and wanted it to be the best it could be. We had no QC doing the inspections but chose to have the technician trained to check it as he went thus reducing non value added processing.

My next point relates to an organizational chart. I prefer having most of our clients have organizational charts as they are good visual aides for employees to see who reports to whom. However, all of the responsibilities and authorities are contained in the procedures, work instructions, and job descriptions. We have two clients who have only a few employees and have chosen in the past not to have an org chart.

The standard does not require an org chart. It simply states that the relationships and authorities need to be clearly defined and implies that those that need to know have access to determine what is required. An org chart is one way of doing it. But I have had a client where the org chart only confuses the issue because they have a great deal of matrix management and a large company with over 700 employees. The structure is complicated and I had suggested they were better off only doing immediate department charts if they do them at all. They are better served by clear procedures and instructions on who to go to for authorities and responsibilities for each of the processes contained in the procedure or instruction. Employees can't follow the org chart but they can follow the procedures and instructions.

My final point is there is no right or wrong answer to this question. It is simply what works for a given company and what doesn't. While the standards may be interpreted one way or another the bottom line to any of this is: does it work for your company? If the answer is no try another method or better yet find out why it doesn't work and develop a plan to either make it work or adjust it so it can work. If all employees are empowered and feel they are a part of the success of the company, they will do a good job and the need for QC is minimized.

Thought: How can you tell a company is successful? The boss can go on vacation for an extended period and the plant runs smoothly and profitably without him.

(That means the boss at any level of the company. If a company depends on the boss or on one person it is doomed to fail when that person leaves. Look at companies that have lasted through centuries and those that have died over night.)

Phyllis
 
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Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member
Admin
#2
Marc,

Good post. I haven't much more to add other than to say that unless there is a great disparity between how Production and Quality view Quality, the organizational chart matters little. Separation would only be needed when the traditional Quantity/Quality battle rages.

When an organization works together, it is in a collaborative effort (win-win). Separation (organizational chart) only serves to identify job responsibility and authority. Quality is everyone's responsiblity and each shares that and the authority to control it.

Just a thought. Back to the group....

Kevin
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#3
Phyllis has some good points. I generally like her posts. Just some insight.
 

Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member
Admin
#4
Marc,

Agreed. I found the point of organizational charts interesting. I like to see folks abandoning paradigms, such as org charts being the only way to establish organizational relationships. While admittedly the org chart is perhaps the easiest way to satisfy the ISO requirement, by illustrating these relationships, there are other solutions. I guess her alternate suggestion appeals to my creative interest, breaks away from the norm, and explores the fact that other methods may suit your organization better. Sorta' like putting on someone else's shoe. Might fit, might be too loose, or too tight. Better to find a shoe that fits (and the style you like)!

Regards,

Kevin
 
A

Andy Bassett

#5
Job Descriptions

On a similar theme to Organigrams is Job Descriptions. I hate the things, it is my firm beleive that people should only need to know what their targets are, and not try to define hwo they should reach them.

However my paradign took a bit of a knock recently, when i started to work with an organisation that unbelievably has zero structure. In this instance an organigram along with Job Descriptions (albeit ones that focus more heavily on targets as on the daily duties themselves) has proven to be a god-send, and very popular with the employees to bring a little method into the madness.

On this point one other item i have found that helps is to put very clearly who is responsible for a process at the top of the chart, this helps to reduce the 'gaps' between departments, but may raise some eyebrows about 'crossed responsibilities' in a company that is structured by department in a 'functional' way.

Regards


------------------
Andy B
 
T

TheOtherMe

#6
Comments on this reply?
-----snippo-----
Subject: Re: To Org Chart Or Not, To QC or Not /Naish/Hunter
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 1999 13:16:10 -0600
From: ASUisNo1

Naish writes:
<Snip>
--> << I frequently see this thread or the concept of Quality Control
--> and who they should report to. Once again I feel obligated to
--> present a concept where there is either no QC or QC does report to
--> production.
-->
--> Now back to the idea of QC not reporting to production. If one
--> practices prevention and criteria is clearly defined why is there a
--> problem with QC working for production? This says you can't trust
--> production. If you can't trust production what difference does it
--> make who QC works for since production can always find a way to get
--> it out.
-->
--> My next point relates to an organizational chart. I prefer having
--> most of our clients have organizational charts as they are good
--> visual aides for employees to see who reports to whom. However, all
--> of the responsibilities and authorities are contained in the
--> procedures, work instructions, and job descriptions. We have two
--> clients who have only a few employees and have chosen in the past
--> not to have an org chart.
-->
--> My final point is there is no right or wrong answer to this
--> question. It is simply what works for a given company and what
--> doesn't. While the standards may be interpreted one way or another
--> the bottom line to any of this is: does it work for your company?
--> >>...

My first thought is one of semantics. Because the inspection is done by
production personnel doesn't mean they are not performing a QC function. As
a QM/QE - I often empower the personnel on the floor to conduct inspection
functions. What my Inspectors do or as we refer to them, the auditors,
verify that the inspections are being conducted as per written instructions
and also perform the training of personnel involved with product
verification. The head of QC should not answer to production as that creates
a conflict of interest. Production is focused on getting the maximum amount
of product out the door that they can. The quality control/assurance group
provides a little counterbalance and if they are doing their job correctly
they should be finding ways to enhance production while providing some brakes
to marginal practices. It is a blessing if the Production Manager is in sync
with your views but is not uncommon for differences of opinions to occur
because of conflicting interests.

Generally speaking I have found that if I am doing my job and finding ways to
get timely information back to the production group we work very
harmoniously. The key is to be seen as a tool that will overall be a benefit
to manufacturing.

I am a big believer in organization and flow charting. In complex matrixes
what I have done is simplify some of the views by combining several boxes
into one. I then provide a more detailed view of that section on an
additional chart that can viewed if more detail is needed. If the chart can
provide the overall concept of an organization it is doing its job and
additional charts can be used if someone needs the ability to "drill down"
for more detail.

In review I guess I am saying that the idea behind the QC department is to
empower as many people as it can in respect to quality issues, provide some
counterbalance to the production departments pressures, and to enhance
production in reaching or surpassing their goals by analyzing processes and
procedures.

Kim
 
T

TheOtherMe

#7
Subject: Re: To Org Chart Or Not, To QC or Not /Naish/Hernandez/Naish
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 1999 14:44:21 -0600
From: PNaish

Carlos,

It is interesting that you feel that production is a fox and quality is a bunch of hens. We have numerous clients who think that production is quality and quality is a part of production. They do an excellent job of producing high quality without the separate quality person since their top management IS and DRIVES quality.

If the goal is high quality and continuous improvement I can show you these clients who have less than 3 returns a month in thousands of products produced. Their internal rate is equally as good. They put their time and money into prevention not detection. And they have the proof in the quality results. Two deliver with 100% on time delivery. I see no value in creating a separate job for a quality person but then I guess they don't either since they are very successful.

Once before I told the story of quality as a separate organization and how it can be more detrimental than good. In another company I worked for years ago, I was called to manufacturing by the manufacturing manager who wanted me to "buy off" some product that QC had rejected. This was just prior to QC being turned over to manufacturing. I asked the Supervisor how he would address this the next month when he had to make the initial decision. He said he wouldn't ship it. So I asked why he thought I should let him. He said because then I took responsibility and he didn't have to.

Time and again I have seen the attitude that its quality's fault when it ships because they didn't catch it. It is never productions fault who made it wrong. I firmly believe that any company whose first question on a return is to quality and why did you let it get out is a prime example of why a separate organization doesn't work. And it makes no difference who they report to. It still got out because the focus is placed on detection not prevention.

I think each company should structure themselves for the best process that works for them and need not include a separate quality orgranization or even a "quality professional". It can do very well with inspired management who believe quality comes first and holds all of its people responsible for its success. I also agree that some companies need quality to keep watch on the flock since the flock is really a bunch of foxes in sheeps clothing. But I hate to think the worse in people and that they prefer to send poor work out of a company or have poor processes rather than good ones.

Phyllis
 
G

Greg Maggard

#8
This company I have just come to is really unorganized. I see lots of this going on about who does what and what is done to whom. I sat down to talk with the MFG Manager and the Quality Manager to help understand their positions. Well, they both understand what to do but......they are both reacting(lack of experience on both parts.
:D The good thing is that both Managers are willing to start working together. They are both from different cultures and see the benifit of not only a visula but a written system like ISO/QS to help learn and grow with Company. Long road ahead. Are there basic job descriptions that I can pull from to form a foundation other than element breakdownsI actualy broke down a listing of responsibility if you would like to view and feed back on.:bonk:
 

SteelMaiden

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
#9
IMHO...For the most part, I actually like QC being performed through production. In our case, it helps to empower employees. I am sure that the lack of a QA or QC dept. could be a bad thing in some companies. Our new division does not have a QA dept. We have quality teams made up from technical people from across departmental lines and these teams assess the quality control issues, work on corrective and preventive measures and set goals and objectives. These teams assess quality issues but the employees on the floor seem to be very happy to "own the process" and be able to perform those typically QC functions.

I definitely think that it is a corporate culture kind of thing. It will either work or not, or take a lot of restructuring the thinking of all employees including management.
 
G

Greg Maggard

#10
I agree with you it is a corperate culture thing. That is the problem the managers and supervisors here are not thinkers. They are all doers. Nobody trains or has been train formally. They all just get fimilar with the processes and graduate up the food chain. hehehe :rolleyes:
I love the ideas of empowerment (Kaizen activities) groups with the Team members. They should take ownership and responsibility of their work. They, (the goose that lays the golden eggs) are making it happen for the production schedules.
If their is a problem (any) what to do Who what where when how and how many. Is there a standard, is the standard understood, and is the standard being followed
:smokin: great topic thankx
 
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