Archive for the ‘Independent audit’ Category

Who is responsible for quality?

June 17, 2012

The top manager is responsible for quality. He or she cannot effectively delegate this responsibility. Quality (good and bad) is the result of the organization working as a system.

The organizational management system exists to help the organization’s employees (and suppliers) to determine and fulfill requirements in creating more successful customers.

Some of the leader’s authority can be delegated to a competent manager who reports direct to them. This person can then:

– Ensure the processes necessary to fulfill requirements are in place

– Respond to suggested improvements to the system

– Ensure the system makes the team aware of customer requirements

– Facilitate actions to improve the system

– Run the internal audit programme to fulfill top management’s objectives

– Recommend system improvements to the leaders

– Report on the performance of the organizational management system

Making this person report to someone other than the top manager may remove the strategic focus on emerging and future customer needs.

Process improvement remains the primary responsibility of each process owner (or their boss). These process level improvements would be coordinated via this person who, instead of being called VP Quality, is the VP Management System.

Without this person the top manager has to do all this herself or himself.

This approach enables all of us to remain responsible for the quality of our work.

Some systems are overly dependent on auditors

March 12, 2010

The management system should be helping its users to do good work. System auditors evaluate evidence and report how well the system is fulfilling its objectives (effectiveness) and other audit criteria.

Auditor questions and the ensuing discussions quite often enable the auditees to determine where the system needs to be improved before the auditor has to declare the ineffectiveness or other nonconformity.

Improvements should first flow from planning and monitoring by operators, their supervisors and managers. Auditors, therefore are at least the fourth entity to look at process effectiveness and perhaps among the first (behind the project manager?) to bring a system view to the project and its processes.

In a mature system no more that 20% of the improvement actions should come from audit.

Systems that depend on their auditors for improvement are dysfunctional. Trouble is too many auditors just issue the oft too common OFI (opportunity for improvement) and do not investigate the reasons for the users not being informed by their system of the need to improve their system. Instead, the system weakness (failure to inform its users of needed improvements) remains in the system.

How do auditors avoid propping up a weak system that depends on them?