Quality management: whose job is it anyway?
21 September 2018
You have probably all heard of the story of “Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody” so I thought I would give an example from the world of quality management which resulted in a company buying our software to ensure it didn’t happen again.
I started my association with the quality domain over 15 years ago whilst working with an EHSQ software company helping customers implement the application. As part of the role, I was lucky to get the opportunity to work with some of the world’s largest organisations from a wide range of sectors including food and drink, pharmaceuticals and mining.
During that time, I also worked for the British Standards Institution (BSI) and gained an in-depth knowledge of the issues that many companies face when trying to implement a quality management system (QMS). This enabled me to understand that most of the time the continual cycle of improvement (Plan, Do, Check, and Act process) ultimately relies on people to carry out tasks in a timely manner. However, tracking this was one of the biggest headaches for those responsible, usually the quality manager.
When Plan, Do, Check, Act falls apart
Our customer had an important compliance task to be completed before a re-visit from a regulatory body. The quality manager assumed that the director of regulatory affairs would do it, however, the assistant quality manager could have done it - in the end, nobody did it. The regulators, having given them six weeks to resolve the issue, suspended their licence to operate.
The director of regulatory affairs got very angry about this because they thought it was the quality manager’s job, but the quality manager thought the assistant quality manager would do it. In the end, nobody did what anybody could have, but if they had quality management software to support their processes, everybody would have known who was doing it and when they had done it (or not done it).
I think it’s important to distinguish between intention and action. In the end, we are all judged on the latter, but you need to ensure transparency across an organisation for the intentions that are mandatory and the actions that are vital.
You also need the ability to ensure that people are aware of their responsibilities, or rather ownership of their actions. Having a QMS such as Q-Pulse acts a little like the cardboard cut-out of a police officer in my local store - it reminds you that you are being watched.
Agility is another important factor in the struggle to stop things dropping through the gaps and being forgotten. Business is a dynamic process and when you need to look ahead and re-assign ownership of actions to others, whether someone has been moved department or has left the company, a window to see what they were responsible for and who you can re-assign to, is a comforting view to have.
A quality management software solution can help ensure that ‘Everybody’ doesn’t blame ‘Somebody’ when ‘Nobody’ did what ‘Anybody'. Request a free demo of Q-Pulse today.