Deeper in Organization Structure for Quality Assurance – A Perspective
Posted in Human Resources Articles, Total Reads: 1440
, Published on 03 November 2014
With increased competition from imports and India itself becoming an export house, quality is gaining a never before importance in manufacturing industry. Earlier not much focused and only a part under production team in the form of final inspection, quality now demands its own team, with establishment of quality systems throughout the organization.
As there is a need of a team, there is need of human resource manager to provide the basic structure and job roles to quality teams so that a quality manager does not find himself in puddle being assigned to new assignment.
Image Courtesy: freedigitalphotos.net, digitalart
This article sights what quality organization structure can HRM design and the perspective has been shared after studying quality structures at different manufacturing industries in India.
Before we go further, let me share some of the observations I made during my time in the industry:
a) An employee may not bring about his or her slacks in duty and we need other employees to do that.
b) If you approve of something the ownership transfers to you and thus approval should be given very judiciously.
c) Though the Quality is everybody’s responsibility it is nobody’s target but Quality manager.
Now let me bring the about the suggested structure and understand how it will work.
The product development in any company starts from design stage. Though design team will try its level best to provide the quality but a design team may or may not be well aware of the customer expectations and as said it is also not their target so there could be the chances of compromise. So to have the acceptable quality in the eyes of customers we should have approvals from the customer quality teams as per their rigorous tests and as per the customer feedback they have.
There are only two causes for any quality problem. One is poor design and the other is poor process controls. And once the design is passed with the help of rigorous tests and according to the market conditions, the other part for quality assurance is process.
To assure the plugging of any loopholes in process should be done by development team. A development team here is the one which takes the responsibility of getting the product made as per drawing assuring the process loopholes are plugged and all the quality systems like incoming inspection and final inspection, work instructions, operator’s skill matrix, first and last piece approval, rejection systems etc are established. Once the development team completes its work the approval should be taken from Supplier Quality Assurance (SQA) team. Once the approval is given the product shall be ready to be launched in market.
As the suppliers may deviate from established systems anytime, it is important that SQA assures the quality with the help of regular audits and system verification audits.
A good quality manager would still like to get final assurance before dispatch and hence we have final inspection team. The final inspection team should not only identify the problems but also make sure that the problem is reported to senior management so that the performance of SQA can be analyzed. At the same time if the defect is reported from customer, the final inspection team should be answerable for their performance.
The main characteristic in this organization structure is to bring about transparency. Imagine a situation of a problem appearing in development stage which was solved using some temporary countermeasure. As the product flows in the market and problem reappears, and the customer quality team unknowing the problem spent days in analyzing and solving the problem while the product in the market multiplies each day. And thus we have a common reporting officer for all the teams so that the Quality manager is aware of all the quality problems from design to development stage, which is very important for quick resolution of market quality problems.
As shown in the structure customer quality has been given a position next to the quality manager. It is to emphasize the importance of the quality when the products are with the customers.
The customer quality should also handle the warranty systems and should analyze the warranty data for generating various actionable insights. One the market quality problem arises it is their responsibility to handle the customer and finding the cause of problem. They should also be responsible for assuring quality in market through market action judgments like recall.
While in the industries some or the other form is used of this structure. The structure is absent in many small and medium scale industries leaving things unmanageable for Quality manager. Most of the tier -2 industries have either one quality manager working under plant head, thus having no power over production or some have just one customer representative in the name of quality who manages all the customer related issues from development to market problems. The problem in these industries is their reactive approach to the quality rather than a proactive approach. The reason for which had been not so quality conscious minds of the Indians. But the things have started to change and the CEOs have to provide the autonomous power Quality demands.
I believe a Quality organization structure like this and job roles as defined will lead to effective product quality but as the structure can be conflicting at times, HRM should make sure that there are enough team building exercises and outbound trainings to synergize the different teams.
This article has been authored by Mohit Kumar from IIM Shillong
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