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Author: Jack Jager

When it comes to problems with quality in your operation, there are the obvious red flags—unhappy clients, defective products, poor reputation, delays, and exorbitant costs, to name a few. But there are other more subtle signs that your quality control department has room for improvement.

Your QC Department Looks Like a Firehouse

Those of us who work in quality control can easily fall into the pattern of fire fighting—running from one issue to the next, solving each problem in the near-term as it crops up. This can work okay for a time, but it’s not a great long-term strategy. When you only focus on solutions and never get down to the root causes that are creating your issues, you will find that the same types of issues keep occurring. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” should be the mantra of every QC department. It’s worth the extra time up front to get at the root causes of an issue.

Your Quality Folks Aren’t Talking Cents

The universal language of business is dollars and cents, so if your quality control department isn’t translating your issues into actual cost to the business, they might not be heard. For example, you might calculate the cost of the time it takes to close different types of exceptions and add that information to your efficiency evaluations.

There Is a Veil Over the QC Department

Sometimes the quality department is treated differently than manufacturing, engineering, or facilities when it comes to accountability. But it’s very important that QC personnel and their equipment are held to certain standards, too. While QC is often responsible for finding solutions, they also need to be held responsible for their share of the causes—for instance, the impact to the supply chain if raw materials or final product testing is not completed effectively. If there has never been an evaluation of your QC department’s process, it’s definitely time to QC your QC.

Your QC Department Sits in an Ivory Tower

Quality folks can do a much better job if they receive training in other areas, including manufacturing, validation, and project management. When a quality person is too specialized, it can prevent them from seeing the whole picture and finding more comprehensive solutions. If your QC department tends to be resistant to change, that might be a sign that it’s time to expand their horizons with some additional training outside their primary field of expertise.

Anything Short of Total Failure Is Considered Success

Let’s say you work for a chemical plant that manufactures plastic bags. You make a polymer that requires water, but the water you’re using has a bad bacteria in it. There is a corporate requirement that the water be clean, so the bacteria is a problem. However, the finished material passes the test even though there was a deviation earlier in the manufacturing process. So is it really a problem after all? If your client sees a pattern of failure within your process, they will begin to believe that you aren’t truly concerned with quality, even if the final product technically meets the specifications. Make sure that you’re taking all issues seriously, even if they don’t seem to affect the final outcome at first glance.

If any of these scenarios sound familiar, download our eBook “11 Problems With Your RCA Process and How to Fix Them” in which we provide best practice advice on using Apollo Root Cause Analysis to help eliminate problems in your QC process and beyond.