Who Owns Quality Control? Eight Recommendations

Situation: The CEO of a company has a problem. Quality control is an essential part of the company’s success, but ownership of quality control issues is proving difficult. When more than one department is involved, each blames the other for issues or deficiencies. Who owns quality control?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • At the end of the day the project owner must own this responsibility. This individual can delegate work but not accountability.
  • QC must be embedded within the company’s systems. In addition, someone has to walk in daily to ask what is wrong with this project? What can be done better? A skeptic.
  • Put a skeptic in the QC role – the job is to find what’s wrong, not what’s right – a tactical skeptic.
    • Skeptics are ideal for design reviews.
    • It isn’t necessary to hire someone for this role if there’s already a productive skeptic on staff.
    • This person needs to be vocal and will irritate some of the other staff. Coach staff to tolerate this, because the individual is performing an essential role.
  • It’s impossible to check everything. However, as issues are identified, everything can be documented.
    • As systems are reviewed, look for patterns of problems.
    • Develop solutions as problems are identified.
    • Log issues and solutions on a shared server to facilitate access by project managers.
  • Institute cross-functional design reviews – representatives from different functions offer different perspectives. Formalize design reviews in the early and start-up stages of projects.
  • Work on company culture – build anticipation of challenges into the culture.
  • Build a heuristic of the output of each program. Use this to make sure that inputs, filters and system checks will produce the desired output and the desired level of quality.
  • Ask: where is QC currently working within the company? Why is it working?
    • Operations and testers catch the errors.
    • The issue is distributing the knowledge gained. In complex systems nobody understands the full picture or the impact on the customer.
    • This becomes the responsibility of the project owner.

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