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Independence of QA / QC Personnel

Discussion in 'Supplier Quality, Audits & Other Supplier Issues' started by Hassaan, Dec 8, 2016.

  1. Hassaan

    Hassaan New Member

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    Hi

    Is there any standard that specifies the hierarchy of QA / QC Personnel (in general)?

    I have to submit report on a certain manufacturer (supplier) whose QA Engineer reports to the Production Manager! My management has asked me to provide reference of a standard through which I can prove that above hierarchy is wrong.

    The technical standards available with me do have sections on quality, but there is no mention on whether QA / QC need to be independent.
     
  2. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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    Not that I'm aware of. In fact I'm not even sure it says anywhere that you have to have QC/QA personnel...
     
  3. hogheavenfarm

    hogheavenfarm Well-Known Member

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    Not an unusual situation, I have worked in places where this was the case. It doesn't work out well generally, but there is no proscribed hierarchy. There ARE best practices though, maybe you could go that route, although I suspect you may run into a debate there as well.
     
  4. normzone

    normzone Active Member

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    " It doesn't work out well generally, but there is no proscribed hierarchy."

    That pretty much sums it up. It's not a law that QA should answer to somebody other than who they are the oversight group for, but that is a widespread expectation.

    Sometimes it otherwise works, sometimes it doesn't, usually depends on the people involved. I've seen some very functional units set in that manner, and some very disfunctional ones as well.
     
  5. Golfman25

    Golfman25 Well-Known Member

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    The problem as I see it is that at some point quality and production "come together" and report to one person. It may be the Director of Quality and Director of Production reporting to the CEO, but someone, somewhere in the organization mediates between the two. In smaller organizations it is not uncommon (or otherwise feasible) to have quality report to a production manager. It just pushes it down the chain. At the end of the day, regardless of who they report to everyone needs to act like adults and get issues resolved for the benefit of the company and customer.
     
  6. PaulJSmith

    PaulJSmith Well-Known Member

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    I've been in both situations. I've been an independent QM reporting only to the President/CEO, and I've had to report to a Production Manager. Both of these were at my last company; under the original owner I reported directly to him, but after his son took the reigns he rearranged the organizational chart to have me reporting to the Production Manager. It worked OK there only because the PM was one of those guys who "gets it." We got along very well, and he always deferred to my judgement regarding Quality matters.

    I've also worked under a QM who was promoted to Plant Manager and retained the QM title as well. That one didn't work well at all. For him, meeting production and shipping quotas almost always came first. The tightness of our quality standards depended almost entirely on how close we were to the end of the month. In his view, we could ship questionable product to our warehouse across town in order to meet the shipping goals, then return it the next day for rework. Made it very difficult to explain our ever-changing standards to the rank-n-file people on the floor. Despite the best efforts of most of the QA Department, Quality there was really not taken seriously.

    At my new company now, I report to the company President.

    It can work having Quality reporting to Production. We do exist to help them, after all. However, that person will have to decide which is more important to them at decision time, and more often than not they seem to lean in the Production direction ... at least in my experience. It really depends on the culture of the company, and the character of the individuals involved.
     
  7. ncwalker

    ncwalker Well-Known Member

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    I don't disagree with anything you said, Paul. But I would suspect that quality reporting to production and that system working is the special case, not the norm. I agree if the production guy "gets it." But to me, if a company made that choice, I would say it is highly likely that it is the beginning of the end.
     
  8. PaulJSmith

    PaulJSmith Well-Known Member

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    Absolutely, ncwalker. I certainly don't condone the practice. My old boss originally wanted it that way, too, and I convinced him before accepting the position that it was not the best idea. His son, unfortunately, had a different vision.

    I won't go so far as to say that signals "the beginning of the end," but it most certainly does seem to diminish the potential of a Quality Department.

    As to the original post query, while there is no standard I know of that prohibits it, common sense or "best practices" should undoubtedly steer you away from it.
     
  9. normzone

    normzone Active Member

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    This solution doesn't solve the challenge identified above, but it does help.

    I established a "stop shipment / shipment authorization " process. ANYBODY can initiate it - all they have to do is tell me that there's a issue with the shipment and they don't feel it should ship.

    I'm required then to document it and evaluate. If I'm comfortable authorizing it to ship, so be it, and the consequences, if any, are on my head.

    If I'm not comfortable, the decision goes to the top, and the consequences go there as a matter of record. The system works well - top management only has to get burned once at the most before they begin choosing not to ship if there's an issue.
     
  10. ncwalker

    ncwalker Well-Known Member

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    That's actually a good idea, norm.

    If it's a process, then you don't have to chase the boss around for an email saying "ship this crap ..."
     
  11. normzone

    normzone Active Member

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    Yeah, I maintain a log and reference the event by number and summary of the issue in my email broadcast, and specify who has to okay it via email.

    The language of the procedure simply says the person authorizing takes responsibility for the consequences. The intent of the process is obvious.

    " I currently hold Stop Shipment / Shipment Authorization # 13, re (customer name) (product name) (issue) " ...

    Sometimes this results in customer negotiations - " Yes I want it now, ship it ", or " No, keep it until it's solved ". Other times the person I designated as the potential authorizer kicks it up to his boss, etc. It works ...

    I've approved my share of shipments based on information I get in the process. I think we average one or two a year of these ...
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2016
  12. MCW8888

    MCW8888 Well-Known Member

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    Welcome aboard QFO!! I echo Andy that I am not aware of such standard. In our organization there is a compliance manager who reports to the QA Manager- the QA/QC Laboratory manager. That seems to work well.
     
  13. ncwalker

    ncwalker Well-Known Member

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    Do you use some sort of MRP system and flag these held shipments so that your schedulers don't think they have more compliant inventory than they do?

    I can see at my place the outgoing logistics folks looking in "the system" and seeing there's 3,000 units and shipping them. When in reality, there's 500 that are on hold, but not flagged ....

    How are you handling this?
     
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  14. normzone

    normzone Active Member

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    I figured somebody was going to spot that weak point in the process sooner or later ;-)

    In my previous lifetime I could go into the system and lock that part number so no transactions, including shipping, could be made against it.

    In this incarnation, I don't have such a tool yet. We build to order JIT/ATL, high mix, low volume, so there's rarely such thing as stock ready to ship for us. And we're small enough that communications are effectively real time.
     
  15. ncwalker

    ncwalker Well-Known Member

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    Got it. And ... you have to love JIT. Everyone has it in their heads the target is zero inventory. And it is, when you consider the logistics/inventory carrying costs. What everyone forgets is the cost avoidance of a quality spill. You have one of those and you are air freighting. (Since everyone capacitizes only exactly what they need and does not consider catch up capacity .....)

    Personally, I'd carry the cost of interest on a small pile of stock to avoid the air freighting. I've seen air freight bills you'd shudder at. And then riot, wondering why your cars cost so much money ....
     
  16. normzone

    normzone Active Member

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    Yeah, that would be nice, but we're effectively a sandwich shop for computers. We can keep some basics in stock, but all our customers want something different. Hence the JIT (just in time) / ATL ( almost too late)

    And I know what you mean about air freight costs...
     

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