Continuous Improvement

Why quality people need a quality system

A common interview question you can expect when applying for any quality role is “Who is responsible for quality”? It may sound cliché, but the only acceptable answer is “Everyone”. A common misconception is that a designated quality department would bear this responsibility but that is a dated and rarely adopted approach in modern manufacturing.

Quality Assurance vs Quality Control

Another common misconception is that a company must choose between a Quality Assurance (QA) approach and a Quality Control (QC) approach. Although the terms might suggest mutual exclusivity they are actually complimentary elements of the same quality system. The essential difference is that QA is proactive whereas QC is more reactive.

In an ideal world an effective QA program should render a QC program redundant but realistically the best approach is to have a knitted and collaborative relationship between QA and QC. Both are working towards the same customer focused goals and when deployed effectively can have a symbiotic relationship.

QC activities not only screen for quality defects but in most instances also measure propensity and characteristics of defects. It’s this data which when fed back through the quality system can prove invaluable to the QA approach. QA can make changes to documentation, procedures or training tailored to the finding of analysis based on the data received from QC which should in turn see defects reducing and quality improving.

Quality People or Quality Systems

Returning to the premise of a job interview, when recruiting for a quality role approximately 9 out of 10 interviewees will either infer or directly state that they have “An eye of detail”. This is much less relevant than they would expect as an eye for detail is a learned skill rather than a soft skill. Indeed, it can even work to their detriment as it could infer issues around efficiency or productivity.

Working in a quality environment is a lot more about being able to adapt to the system you’re working in rather than the idea of finding defects using intuition or instinct. Guidelines and training which have matured from the QA and QC processes are tailored to each job function and will always serve to maintain quality more than an ambiguous idea of “an eye for detail”. In a sense, if you are relying on an eye for detail then the Quality System has already failed.

Find The Solution

There are many ways to build a robust quality system and it starts with a connected workforce solution and a centralised paperless platform for all SOPs, work instructions and training documents.