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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Quality Assurance

Most companies say they are committed to quality and continuous improvements but the truth lies in their actions.  Are they changing? Are things different now compared to a year ago?  If the answer is no, then they are not committed. 
I have attempted to document Ebsco's journey in continuous improvement in this Blog.  At the beginning of our journey we created a new mission statement defining who Ebsco is.  It is all about quality and our commitment to continuous improvement.
We recently completed a project that improved the entire process in our Quality Control Department.  To say I'm proud of everyone's  accomplishments would be an understatement.  We have drastically reduced Que time in the department and completely modernized the physical surroundings.  What better way to drive quality than to improve the quality control department.  We accomplished our objectives in QC.  I was ready to check that project off and move to something new when I was asked a simple question. "Is it Quality Control or Quality Assurance?"  Who is really responsible for quality?
When Toyota created TQM the responsibility for quality was instilled in everyone.  Everyone was empowered to shut down the assembly line if they discovered a quality issue.  Quality was at the root of everyone's job. 
Everyone at Ebsco have always been committed to quality.  Individuals in all departments have provided input into the quality system and taken responsibility for the quality of their work.  If they had not we would not have the reputation for quality we have today.  The question was where was my responsibility in the process. 
Ebsco had NCRs, Work Order Exceptions, CARs, PARs and the entire collection of quality improvement alphabet forms.  Previously these forms went to the Quality Systems Manager who investigated, reported and logged the document. One person handling the entire system.  It was difficult to manage the information much less report changes to the team. 
Now the forms go to the responsible Vice President.  Liz and I are responsible for sharing this information with everyone involved and coordinating their corrective actions. We have the responsibility to drive the team to the root cause.  Now that everyone sees a commitment from management people are encouraged and are submitting problems.  The team creates solutions and everyone sees the benefit of their efforts.
With these changes, we are changing the name from Quality Control to Quality Assurance.  Quality control is everyone's job.  The Quality Assurance department is responsible to oversee and verify their efforts.  We are also reviewing all job descriptions and adding quality control to the basic job requirements for every employee.  We are developing training for our Team Leads in root cause analysis.  Quality control lies with each individual and management is behind them 100%. 
As I have mentioned in previous Blogs, the key to Ebsco's success is leadership.  Not management leadership but the teams leadership in driving change. The simple action of showing management's support for their ideas drives them to take Ebsco to our ultimate goal of becoming a World Class Manufacturer".

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