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Where does Quality Authority come from?



Hi All,
Recently I have been challenged to make a recommendation on where Quality authority comes from. We are a manufacturing company that prescribes to NSF 51 (food product contact) for our machinery (think soda fountain machines). When I came on board a year ago, we reported in through our Technical group that included R&D, and product development. The thought was the we would be the arm of Technical that ensure production manufactured products that met the original customer requirements as interpreted by Engineering. The group has morphed into a standalone department that works primarily with Supply Chain and Production to ensure product quality per requirements and internal processes. We interact with our Customer Facing groups to ensure that field issues are handles efficiently and effectively. My leaning currently is to be the internal voice of the customer and our mandate comes from assuring our product meets customer expectations. What are your thoughts? I would love to hear your opinions on this topic to give me a better insight into where Quality obtains it's authority.
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In most organizations I know, quality internal quality and outgoing quality are typically the same group. And the org chart path leads right to the big boss. Meaning there are no other "groups" in between quality and the big boss that quality reports to. In other words, it's not an arm of the production group or the design group, it is its own group.

Typically, if it DOES fall under the production group, it leads to bad decisions.

On the incoming side, I have seen supplier quality be a sub arm of quality and also a sub arm of purchasing. There's pros and cons to this both ways. But again, whenever it is a subset of production, bad decisions happen.

The production over quality problem is typically one of metrics. Productions metrics are often at odds with quality's metrics. And if quality reports to production, things go towards "we will take care of quality metrics once production metrics are met."

The problem with having it part of design engineering is - they have different goals. The quality arm is more akin to production. If it is under the design group, it gets the scraps of the design group for resources and it becomes the "necessary evil" in an organization. Or "those guys who keep us certified."

The problem with it being part of manufacturing engineering is the gear shift problem. Manufacturing engineers want to launch new lines and repair existing ones. So they are oriented towards "one off" mentality and way of thinking, not statistical thinking.

That said, quality needs influence in ALL these groups.

You need quality whispering into designs ear so they don't design something difficult to control in manufacturing.

You need quality whispering in manufacturing engineerings ear so they run off their new equipment right with proper statistical tests and don't accept things ad hoc, realizing in production that a machine doesn't work well enough.

You need quality whispering in productions ear. Nevermind. You need quality SHOUTING at production that only good parts count against production goals. And training them how to tell.

All of this is easier if quality is stand alone and reports to the big boss.


Super Moderator
Hi All,
Recently I have been challenged to make a recommendation on where Quality authority comes from.
ALL authority comes from top management. It is delegated throughout the organization by leaders.

I think the question you're really asking is "what function should the quality group report to?" In my opinion, the leader of the quality group should report directly to top management.

ISO 9001:2015 states:
Top management shall demonstrate leadership and commitment with respect to the quality management system by: a) taking accountability for the effectiveness of the quality management system...
AS9100:2016 states:
The management representative shall have the organizational freedom and unrestricted access to top management to resolve quality management issues.
I know that these standards probably don't apply to you, but it shows the thoughts of quality standards organizations.

Sidney Vianna

Post Responsibly
Staff member
In my opinion, the leader of the quality group should report directly to top management.
While I don't disagree with the statement and wished many more organizations had appointed CQO's, I still believe that having a quality group is destined to create a misunderstanding of quality management.

In my opinion, most organizations should not have a quality group, but, and instead, a quality function, and the purpose of this function would be to make sure quality (i.e. product conformity + customer satisfaction + efficient and excellent processes) are embedded seamlessly into the business/operational processes of the organization.

Only then, quality truly becomes everyone's responsibility. Not the responsibility of the "quality group".


Thank you all for your feed back everyone. We are a separate group which has its advantages (no conflicts of interest, top management oversight) and disadvantages (quality is Quality's job, inspect in quality mindset). +

I think the questions that the president is asking is where does my authority to correct other areas of the business come from? Is it the customer, Design, Compliance, etc.?

My opinion is that it comes from the customer. Engineering/R&D designs based on customer requirements, production builds based on customer requirements (SKUs, etc.), Supply Chain purchases based on forecast and build plan, Sales sales to customer requirements.

The job of Quality (management, supplier, production and customer) is to ensure that the customer requirements are met through control of incoming parts, production process, and customer complaints/field failures.

IMO, I am more than happy with Quality being its own entity, but if it rolls into Sales or Technical, it wont change my mandate to ensure the customers expectations are met and we produce a product that meets their requirements.
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