Organizing for Quality
Developing an organizational structure to support your company's quality improvement efforts is an essential element for success. This structure should:
- Not be overly complicated or bureaucratic;
- Be tailored to the company's size, business and market;
- Look as much like (and eventually merge with) the company's formal organizational structure as possible;
- Facilitate the downward flow of quality goals, values, objectives and support;
- Facilitate the upward flow of improvement ideas, employee concerns and quality-related information; and
provide linkages among the Total Quality activities of employees throughout the company.
- The Total Quality implementation organization is often led by a quality council (or steering committee) of top managers. This council develops the organization's quality strategy, including objectives and implementation plans.
- Large organizations often use a two-tier system in which a second quality council focuses on tactical issues and reports directly to the Executive Steering Committee, which focuses on strategic issues. They may also have a separate quality council for different geographic regions and divisions.
The bulk of the Total Quality implementation effort involves quality improvement initiatives applied to individual business processes. These are carried out by teams whose members work at all levels and areas within the organization. These teams are formed to address specific quality issues and have finite lifetimes.
initiative are often organized. This is not a rigid model - the details will vary with the circumstances of individual companies.
Implementing the Total Quality plan in an orderly fashion requires coordination among the various groups involved in the effort. This can be facilitated by having members of the first and second tier quality councils act as leaders of quality improvement teams. The heads of the second-tier quality councils usually have membership on the senior quality council.
The quality councils should take care not to over-plan the initiative. Over-planning can lock people into methods and solutions which are less than optimum. Giving people more room to manoeuvre requires a conscious effort on the part of management who are often accustomed to giving explicit directions.
Another useful step is to appoint a Total Quality coordinator who is responsible for training, mobilizing and providing assistance to quality improvement teams. Depending on the size of the company, the following options could be considered:
The Total Quality coordinator may be a full-time or part- time position and may head up a Total Quality resource group. Members of this group act as team facilitators, teach Total Quality methods and operate the organizational infrastructure that supports Total Quality.
The Total Quality coordinator and Total Quality resource staff may or may not be separate from the Quality Assurance (QA) group. Companies should consider having the Total Quality group separate from the traditional QA group so that they do not get labelled as inspectors or auditors. If they are separate, the Total Quality coordinator should report to senior management, not the QA manager.
In large companies, there may be Total Quality coordinators for each division.
Total Quality does not eliminate the QA group. They will still have the primary responsibility for assuring compliance with quality standards. Their role as independent auditors can also be expanded, beyond compliance with quality standards, to include measuring progress in Total Quality implementation. As experienced Quality professionals, they are a source of personnel for the Total Quality resource group described above and are the "keepers of the tools" used by everyone else to measure and report on quality. They can also assist in developing partnerships with customers and suppliers and monitor any quality requirements established by customers.
More Quality Business Tips