Senior Executives need to be very sure of the commitment, responsibility, authority and extra work loads before they begin developing a formal quality system.
Many hours of patient explanation may have to go into preparing senior executives for the application of ISO9001, for example. My first meeting with senior executives can be very revealing.
I ask: “Have you chosen the standard?”
The answer is usually yes, even if they’ve chosen the wrong one for their business.
Next question: “Have you read the standard, and do you have a good idea of what it means in commitment?” (Sometimes they haven’t read it at all).
Answer: “Well, we’ve just looked through it briefly. We were hoping to get some guidance from you”
Me: “Well, that’s what I’m here for. Can you tell me why you have decided to initiate an ISO9001 quality system’?”
Answer: “Our customers are pressing for it” (or we are losing a share of the market, or we want a share of the market where ISO9001 is mandatory).
Me: Have you appointed anyone to be the management representative for the quality system?”
Answer: “Yes, we thought that John Bright, who is Manager of Purchasing. Shipping, Marketing, Packaging, and fills in for Operations could fit this in with his other duties”. (You think I am making this up?)
I reply something along the lines of: “I’m afraid that it would not be wise to have the quality manager do anything else but concentrate on the quality system, at least until registration. He/she will be working full time on learning the responsibilities and the processes. I shall be training him/her to come up to speed with writing and verifying procedures, (although I prepare the first drafts) straightening out the current documentation, conducting internal audits, and training employees in the company quality policy and the meaning of ISO.” At this point I can see my prospective client (with eyeballs glazing over) having second thoughts, or is still convinced that developing the quality system is only a part time job with a bit of word processing thrown in.
Careful consideration of available resources (time, skills) will save a lot of aggravation in the long run.