Since becoming involved in the field of quality some 10 or so years ago I have been exposed to a variety of situations. For those of you who have read my previous articles you may have noticed a theme. For those that haven’t (why ever not?) then the theme has been one of frustration as to how little time and resources quality seems to be given and, when it is given some, it is mostly because of a need to rather than a wanting to (contractual requirement, NCR etc.). Every once in a while though, just when we think all hope is lost, something comes along that makes us sit up, take notice and generally get that ‘warm fuzzy feeling’ that everything is going to be alright, for a while at least. If you follow my LinkedIn posts you will know that I was recently back in Europe on leave. My trip to Europe was then extended a few days as I visited a potential Vendor to perform a capability assessment. Short of a full audit, this assessment was being conducted based on some of our lessons learned and was, to all intents and purposes, to verify if the Vendor could mitigate the risks our product requirements bring to the table in a controlled and realistic manner.
My Colleagues (from welding and engineering) and I approached the 2 day assessment with a degree of optimism but also dread, not knowing what we might find behind the doors of the fabrication facility. Armed with our lessons learned we set-to the task. For most of the first day I was a spectator as quality had been scheduled for day 2. I sat back and listened, trying to get a feel for the Vendors representatives (ie were they actually able to address our concerns or just giving us the sales patter) and I was becoming more and more enthused as the day progressed. From a technical perspective, not only were they able to mitigate the risk of those tasks with the highest risk profile but they were able to clearly demonstrate that mitigation plans had been in place for many years and were fundamental to the success of their product delivery. The site tour also yielded some very positive observations. So far, so good.
Day 2 and onto my favourite topic. The purpose of my exercise was to test the quality management system a little (just a reminder that this wasn’t a full audit) so I started by discussing 2 NCRs which had been found during an audit by my organisation back in 2011, the trap was set and I was waiting for the inevitable fumbling around the files, excuses about personnel involved no longer being with the company etc etc but to my shock, amazement, dis-belief and, ermmm, surprise the organisation was able to produce evidence that the NCRs had been investigated, agreed corrections had been put in place, tested and verified and then the NCRs had been closed out. Furthermore, all 3 of the personnel from the organisation involved in that audit in 2011 were still working at the company and the most senior was made available to discuss those NCRs in detail. This was just the first of many examples of how this organisation is taking quality seriously. I continued to test the system and time and again I was left more than satisfied that this organisation is serious about quality. It is clear, from the resources in place to the involvement of Senior Management in the quality process, that this organisation really does understand the risk of not having a robust and adequate quality function in place.
I’d like to refer you back to one of my earlier articles where I talk about the ‘because we want to’ and the ‘because we have to’ attitude towards quality and, I do believe, this organisation ‘wants’ to do quality and for that, I can only doff my cap in recognition of their efforts.
As always, happy to engage, would like to hear if you’ve had similar experiences. Please also feel free to like, share, comment or otherwise.!