Quality is not an accident. Quality is a habit. Think Quality!
"There is only one boss - The Customer. He can fire everybody in the company - from the chairman on down - simply by spending his money somewhere else." Sam Walton
Whether you are a parent, child, employed, unemployed, wealthy or poor, Quality Management affects your life and the lives around you. For this reason, I began sending Tweets and Facebook postings containing the latest product recall news. It seemed value-added at the time and from the email feedback, it has proven to be used by visitors on a daily basis. I have received emails asking if the increased number of product recalls is a direct result of an ineffective Quality Management System (QMS). It is a valid question, so here are my thoughts.
Quality management is often viewed by a company’s upper management as an expense and in reality, it is an expense. The personnel in the quality department do not sell any products or services produced by the company. They do not close deals with customers or bring in new customers. The quality department is an expense. The quality department actually creates more work for other departments through audits, inspections and evaluations. Performing these tasks takes time away from the department personnel being audited / inspected. In some cases, a considerable amount of time.
Resources are also used after the audit, especially if there are audit findings (non-conformances, non-compliances or suggestions for improvement). Time and resources are once again needed to close these findings by performing a root cause analysis and determining corrective / preventive actions. Once the actions are determined, the corrective / preventive actions must be put into place…consuming yet more time and resources. The quality department must then follow up to ensure the corrective / preventive actions are effective and working. If another defect occurs during this phase, the corrective / preventive actions are deemed ineffective and the department goes “back to the drawing board”, so to speak. An effective control measure must be created, implemented and evaluated. And so it goes…….
It is easy to see why upper management may be resistant or even become bitter when enforcing the quality philosophy from the top – down through an organization. These resources could be better used in other areas of the business; perhaps the Sales Department. After all, Sales brings the customers to the business and ultimately, they bring the customers’ money to the company bottom line. However, when a product fails, contains defects or is otherwise flawed, the negative exposure the company faces in our “media frenzy” culture can cripple, if not destroy a company.
Reputation is what sells products and services and once that reputation is damaged, it takes a huge amount of resources to correct. The fact is, some companies never recover from such external failures of their products or services. So is this a failure of the quality department when this happens?
When a product is designed, manufactured or produced, there should be many controls in place to prevent defects. The quality department uses statistical sampling (auditing a percentage of the products produced) relying strictly on the quality department to discover and segregate all of the defects is impossible. Even if 100% of the products produced are inspected, the costs incurred by the company are going to increase dramatically if there are too many defectives.
Companies with an effective QMS may still experience external failures. The Law of Averages will certainly play a part however, when an external failure does occur, the entire company fails at producing defect-free products for public use and consumption.
The moral of the story is quite simple: If you do not build quality into the product, every step of the way, no amount of inspection will compensate. I believe, in our example, this company will be scampering to meet their budget, laying off employees and sacrificing quality even more to meet their financial bottom line. Quality must be built into the product…period. An effective Quality Management System is not only the quality department, it is the entire company. In the end, I believe the company either will be out of business soon or will be the subject of one of my future product recall tweets!
ISO certification bodies have three years to migrate certificates to the new ISO 9001:2015 version. The new version of ISO 9001 follows a new, higher level structure to make it easier to use in conjunction with other management system standards, with increased importance given to risk. ISO 9000:2015, which defines the concepts and language used throughout the ISO 9000 family of standards, is also released.
You can access the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) newly revised ISO 9001:2015 standard through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI); the ISO U.S. member body.
Visit the ANSI Webstore