Quality's Role In Achieving The Goal
Eliyahu M. Goldratt's books, "The Goal" and "The Race" provide a clear approach on how to improve a manufacturing process.
Eliyahu M. Goldratt’s books, “The Goal” and “The Race” provide a clear approach on how to improve a manufacturing process. While quality was not an area specifically targeted in the book, Mr. Goldratt’s “Theory of Constraints” lesson and “Process thinking” is applicable to any industry and to any practice. A core lesson of the books was the need for employees to be able to follow through on their ideas to “overcome barriers to making money.”
Although this lesson of fiscal duty could be perceived only as a direct urging to those responsible for production and sales, it really is a challenge to all functions within an organization. Before you can provide optimum value for your organization, you must first recognize your true role with that company. This role goes beyond being merely a good steward of the responsibilities that you were hired to perform.
So how can the quality function help an organization overcome barriers to making more money? First and foremost, serve your operations and sales groups. Recognize and embrace the fact that you neither produce nor sell. You are a support function and you can have a huge impact on the bottom line.
Serve Operations. Identify your role in reducing operational expense by allowing those professionals on the floor to concentrate on what they do best. If you haven’t already done so, say goodbye to the archaic “us versus them” struggle between quality and production.
Simplify systems and processes so that those 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 external issues. Act as a working member of the teams by documenting the planned actions. Assist in following up on the 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 organizational vision and provide a sense of ownership for each employee.
Serve Sales. 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 using 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 ISO17025) is over the horizon, 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.
It’s About The Bottom Line. Sometimes, we get so steeped in our day-to-day activities that we fail to reaffirm to ourselves the purpose or goal of our positions. 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 departments.
The opportunities listed here are a few of many chances to provide value-added support. Stand up and provide the support to operations and sales that it is needed to differentiate your business. Then watch your efforts translate into better production, increased sales and improvement in long-term relationships with both internal and external customers.