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January 2010

Articles In this Issue

The 10 Biggest Quality MistakesPart II

GMs Michael Down !"I"G is the Place to #a$e an Intelligent

"I"G Quality Training&irst Quarter '((ortunities
The 10 Biggest Quality MistakesPart II
These preventable errors violate common sense.
By Craig Cochran
One of the most effective ways to improve is to learn from other peoples mistakes,
and experience demonstrates that there are plenty of mistakes out there to learn
from. The trick is to recognize them and understand what to do instead.
Unfortunately, the same mistakes seem to appear over and over. And yet, they arent
mistakes ecause they violate a standard such as !"O #$$%& theyre mistakes
ecause they violate good sense. 'ets examine the %$ most common (uality
mistakes and see how they can e corrected.
(Editors note: Part one of this article appeared in the December 2009 edition of
AIAGs Quality ene!sletter and focused on mista"es one throu#h fi$e% &art II belo!
pic"s up !here !e left off !ith mista"es si' throu#h ten%(
Mistake )* "((lying +ocu,ent control only to o--icial +ocu,ents.
)ost organizations do a decent *o of controlling +official, documents, such as the
procedures and work instructions that form the core of the (uality management
system -.)"/. These are often written, approved, and issued according to very
specific guidelines. 0owever, what organizations dont do very well is control
unofficial documents, many of which are more important than the official ones. "ome
production1area examples often include2
3ost1it notes with special re(uirements written on them.
)emos that include procedural steps.
41mails with customer specifications.
3hotographs showing what a product should look like.
5rawings indicating how product components fit together.
"amples of product showing defect limits.
These informal resources ecome documents when theyre shared for people to use,
and theyre some of the most important documents within an organization. Theyre
distriuted and posted in a hurry6usually without control6ecause the information
they communicate is considered critical. 7oody can (uile with the speed of
distriution, ut the lack of control guarantees prolems later. !ve seen %$1year1old
memos posted in organizations that exhorted personnel to perform osolete *o
steps. 8hen documents arent controlled, mistakes and nonconformities are
inevitale. "crutinize your document control process to keep it streamlined and
Mistake )/&ocusing au+its on (etty0 nonstrategic +etails.
Auditing is the process of comparing actual operations against commitments the
organization has made. !ts a simple, fact1driven process that can generate huge
improvements. 0owever, these can occur only if auditors focus on the right things.
Too often, internal auditors ecome preoccupied with petty details and neglect the
ig issues. Organizations rarely provide enough training and skill1uilding to their
internal auditors, so its no wonder that they arent prepared to carry out their duties
to the fullest.
A roust internal auditing process examines make1or1reak issues. 0ere are *ust a
few of the items that internal auditors should proe in detail2
%usto,er satis-action. !s the organization capturing and analyzing
customer satisfaction data9 0ow is it acting on the data9 5o trends show
improvements in customer satisfaction9
Manage,ent re$iew. 5oes management review happen as planned9 8hat
actions result9
%orrecti$e action. !s corrective action applied to existing nonconformities9
!s it timely9 5oes evidence indicate that causes are removed to prevent
Pre$enti$e action. 5oes the organization take preventive, effective action
ased on data and information9
Internal au+its. Are audits carried out ased on status, importance, and
prior audit results9 5o audit nonconformities ecome corrective actions9 !s
the entire scope of the management system audited9
'12ecti$es. Are o*ectives estalished and communicated clearly to
%ontrol o- noncon-or,ing (ro+ucts. Are all nonconformities positively
identified9 Are dispositions carried out as re(uired9 Are trends analyzed for
There are, of course, many other important issues an audit process could examine.
The point is that internal auditors should go after the items that really affect the
organizations success. :ocusing on petty details serves no purpose ut to confuse
everyone aout the purpose of audits.
Mistake )3Training so,e (ersonnel 1ut not all.
)ost organizations provide significant training to hourly production personnel.
0owever, salaried and managerial personnel are often neglected. 8hy9 ;ecause
theres a perception that salaried workers dont affect product conformity. This is a
serious error.
All personnel must e included in the training process. "alaried and managerial
personnel need more11not less11training ecause their decisions and actions have
more lasting effects. 8hen an hourly employee makes a mistake, it could cost
money. 8hen a top manager makes a mistake, it could put you out of usiness.
Train your managers early and often.
Mistake )4Doing anything 2ust 1ecause an e5ternal au+itor tol+ you to.
4xternal auditors wield great influence. Their *udgments can have a lasting effect on
the way an organization conducts usiness. This can e good or ad, and in my
experience, usually, its ad.
)ost external auditors working for a registrar are removed from the realities of
running a usiness. They travel from organization to organization, gradually
collecting paradigms aout the way a .)" should e implemented, maintained, and
improved. These paradigms are sometimes reflected ack to the organization as
recommendations or nonconformities.
!n my travels to companies, ! often ask people why theyre carrying out a process in
a certain way. !n a surprising numer of cases, the answer will e, +;ecause the
external auditor said we should do it that way., 8hat a waste.
5o a reality check on the auditors recommendations. 7ever do anything *ust
ecause an auditor would like it done that way. A certificate on the wall isnt worth it.
Mistake )106,(loying so,eone who only o$ersees the QM7.
0aving a person who does nothing ut oversee the !"O #$$% -or any other/ .)" is
one of the worst ideas in the history of (uality. 8hy9 ;ecause it guarantees two
&irst0 the QM7 coor+inator will 1eco,e isolate+ -ro, the rest o- the
organi8ation. ;ecause the person does nothing ut serve the .)", he or
she loses touch with why the organization exists in the first place. The
system ecomes paramount over the organizations usiness concerns.
7econ+0 the QM7 will 1eco,e 1loate+ an+ 1ureaucratic 1ecause it
,ust e5(an+ to co,(letely -ill so,eones ti,e. 3rocedures ecome
more complicated, methods more cumersome and the enefits more
A .)" is nothing more than a guiding structure of methods, and it shouldnt take a
huge dedication of time and effort to maintain. <es, someone should keep the system
on track, ut that person should have other responsiilities as well. 3air the !"O
#$$% coordinator *o with other responsiilities that focus on understanding what the
organization does, especially responsiilities related to the product, customers and
!f the .)" is so ureaucratic that it re(uires the time of an entire person -or heaven
forid, an entire staff/, then the system must e streamlined. An effective .)"
should make an organization more competitive, not weigh it down.
)rai# )ochran is the north metro Atlanta re#ion mana#er !ith Geor#ia *echs
Enterprise Inno$ation Institute% +es a ,A-Q.Acertified Q/. lead auditor and the
author of =ustomer "atisfaction2 Tools, Techni(ues and :ormulas for "uccess& The
=ontinual !mprovement 3rocess2 :rom "trategy to the ;ottom 'ine& and ;ecoming a
=ustomer1:ocused Organization, all a$ailable from Paton Press.
0or more information on AIAGs 1uality initiati$es2 $isit the AIAG Web site or contact
Karen Whitmore%

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