Craftsman's Cribsheet: The Quality Function--Value-Added Overhead
How can the quality function help an organization make more money? By serving the operations and sales groups. Recognize and embrace the fact that quality neither produces nor sells. Quality is a support function, and it can have a huge impact on the bottom line.
• Identify your role in reducing operational expenses by allowing professionals on the floor
to concentrate on what they do best.
• Simplify systems and processes so these functions can concentrate on producing.
• Ensure that work instructions are easily accessible through key postings and/or by electronic means.
• Define your document approval process without the bureaucratic need for literal “sign-offs.”
• Maintain and post key department measurables for the entire plant.
• Spearhead and manage your company’s problem-solving efforts for both internal and
• Act as a working member of the teams by documenting the planned actions. Assist with
the follow up of actions whenever possible.
• Communicate the successes, failures and improvements to both the participants of the group and to the balance of the plant personnel.
• Develop relationships with all floor personnel. Verbal confirmation of postings, customer visits, audits and other events will reaffirm the orga- nizational vision and provide a sense of ownership for each person you speak with.
• Quality can assist sales by keeping sales personnel abreast of the continual efforts and successes of the plant.
• Provide quick customer response to quality issues by giving a personal call to the customer within 24 hours of notification.
• The facts will play out as to where the “fault” lies with any problem, but it is the immediate contact and
verbal commitment to solve the problem that will have lasting impact.
• Provide documentation to the customer in electronic format, including statistical reporting mandates and product certifications.
• Embrace requests for PPAP by utilizing your ability to respond to these requests in an electronic format.
• Don’t shy away from new quality standards. If you see that a mandate to achieve a certain certification (for example, TS16949 or ISO-17025) is on the hori- zon, prepare your system to conform today.
• If your current system is logically defined, adding to it will not be as overwhelming as you might think. Your leadership will be rewarded.
The quality function, like all support functions, has a duty to identify what it is that they can do to support those who directly affect the bottom line, operations and sales. Communication is the key to successful quality support in manufacturing.