Ensuring that responsibilities and authorities are defined has always been a mandate of the automotive quality standards. The latest version of ISO (9001:2000) has included the requirement to "ensure that responsibilities and authorities are defined and communicated within the organization."
Individual progress and performance cannot be properly judged without clearly defined expectations. People must understand what it is they are expected to achieve in order to succeed. A Responsibility and Authority document will define and document both the responsibilities and authorities as well as the interrelation of personnel managing, performing and verifying work that affects quality. The document should reflect the expectations of those that manage the process.
Creating a document for each job function can be a great tool for an organization. The document can define the expectations you have for your people. It can be reviewed to ensure that you have the proper supporting documentation. It can also be used when training employees as well as when assessing an employee’s performance.
Get started. Identify the functions within the department on an organization chart. Be sure the people are identified by functions and job titles. Never use names. When responsibilities and authorities are broken down by location or department (such as Shipping/Receiving, Operations, Purchasing, Administration), it makes it easier to control the document. More importantly, it provides a framework that can be used to help manage.
Identify the core responsibilities for each function listed on the organization chart. The information should contain the activities necessary to perform the job, including the quality, productivity and safety considerations of the position.
These activities should be measurable where objective evidence of compliance can be demonstrated. The document should not include organization requirements such as attending meetings, participation in problem solving or completing projects. After you have completed the document, use it to ensure that other requirements of your system are maintained.
Determine the need for work instructions. Review each listed responsibility and determine if a supporting work instruction is needed. This is a great tool to use in start-up systems. It can also be a tool for managers to review to ensure they have defined the necessary instructions to support the function. When determining if the work instruction is needed, ask yourself if it is possible that quality could be affected if the instruction did not exist. Once you have decided on the need for a work instruction, be sure it is defined with the function performing these activities.
Use it as a training tool. Use the document as the basis for your training activities. Take each of the defined responsibilities for a function and see that the people in those positions are proficient in their required activities. Create a training record for each employee with the responsibilities listed as their core proficiency needs. Make sure both the employee and the trainer are noted on the record. Include a comments section so that observations can be noted.
Use the document as a way to evaluate performance of your people. Use it as a means to confirm that you have the appropriate person in place to perform each of the defined responsibilities. It is important that people are slotted in the correct position. The person may be doing some portion of their job well, but his or her strengths might be better suited for a different function within the organization.
It is important to both the organization and the employee that positional expectations are clearly defined. A Responsibility and Authorities document is a powerful quality system tool that can drive this definition process as well as a number of other activities mandated by the standard.
If you have not yet developed such a document, do so. If you already have one, review it for adequacy. The document is the foundation to establishing and improving your quality system, yet it is often the most overlooked and underused.