All departments within a company are interrelated. In many cases, the quality management team plays a central role that affects all other departments’ metrics and impacts a business’ bottom line.
For example, if a product does not meet the standard quality levels, then sales are impacted and customer satisfaction goes down. Any rework, recalls, and returns can cause changes in the planning department. Not to mention the fact that you may have to break a production line schedule to make up the deficit, which, in turn, affects manufacturing.
The question now is: How do you make sure you have a robust quality team that helps your business flow smoothly?
Quality Control Starts with Key Quality Assurance Skills
Everything starts with a strong quality team. To be successful in an industry where technology and practices are constantly evolving, you need to focus your efforts on developing and deploying the correct set of quality assurance skills for your team. The most effective quality assurance teams possess a combination of both technical and interpersonal expertise. What skillsets should you then look for in new hires and also aim to cultivate in your existing team to achieve this balance of abilities?
The essential skills that any member of a quality team should possess are:
- Understanding of variation introduced by measurement devices: Devices have inherent variability, as does human involvement. An understanding of measurement limitations in accuracy and repeatability is vital to collecting and accurately representing your data.
- Effective use of data analysis tools (e.g., root cause analysis, Pareto charts, and box and whiskers charts): Your quality team members need a foundation of basic statistical process control tools to grow upon.
- Problem solving: General intelligence alone is not enough. Involve your team in formal training to learn strategic problem solving approaches to enhance quality assurance.
- Analytical and research skills: The quality of information is more important than quantity. When looking at huge volumes of data, your team needs to determine which information is most valuable and usable.
- Effective interaction with other departments/suppliers: For your organization to run smoothly, the quality team needs to foster positive interactions with other internal departments, external customers, and suppliers.
- Leadership: Every team needs a member to step up, give the department direction and lead by example. Encourage team members to take ownership of their projects—a vested interest inevitably produces greater results.
- Willingness to learn new methods and systems: With technology rapidly evolving in today’s world, your quality management team must have a positive attitude when it comes to embracing new tools, ideas, and processes.
- Ability to manage multiple priorities: Many companies are operating with more automation and fewer people. Your team members should be able to balance and effectively manage multiple responsibilities and goals.
- Teamwork: With individuals shouldering more priorities and responsibilities, working together to distribute the workload will ensure all your company needs are met.
- Communication skills: Effective communication and active listening is essential to teamwork. Don’t just hear the words; find the meaning behind them. An open dialogue creates mutual understanding.
- Sound judgment and decision making: Data is meaningless if your quality department cannot interpret and use the information to make logical choices and changes to optimize your products and processes.
While the hard, analytical skills of numbers one through four are essential to the data collection and statistical aspects of a quality assurance team, they need to work in conjunction with the remaining soft, interpersonal skillsets to fully enhance the efficiency of your team. Hard, technical skills will not yield results if you do not have a team that can work together and communicate effectively.
Leaders on Your Team Can Get the Ball Rolling
Most important, it is critical to have a great leader that can keep people motivated and continuously coach employees to meet the highest quality standards. It is also important to remember that any person in a management position becomes a role model for his or her subordinates.
Therefore, a great quality manager must also be a great communicator who can express the importance of meeting the metrics and goals within the quality department. He or she must fully grasp and explain these concepts:
- What is the purpose of what we are doing?
- What is our contribution within the company?
- How do we impact other departments?
The next question: Where do you start?
To begin developing these essential skills within your quality team, start with the following steps:
- Create a team skills matrix to map out what you need and who has the correct abilities to fill that need.
- Perform quality systems gap analyses, both internally and externally, to pinpoint issues in your systems.
- Explore the newest technologies and training opportunities.
- Make a commitment to training yourself and your team.
- Develop a plan and share it with your department and supervisors.
Having the right set of skills in your quality team is the foundation for building a strong quality assurance department that will allow you to develop robust quality control processes. Since quality is one of the key departments within a company, you will be paving the way to improve your organization. Plus, you can rest assured that you will be creating a better working environment while fostering a “culture of quality” that will expand beyond the quality team into your enterprise as a whole!
To learn more about the 11 skills your quality team needs, watch our free webinar hosted by InfinityQS’ Chief Operating Officer, Doug Fair.
Watch our webinar "11 Skills Your Quality Team Needs to Have. "
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