Choosing the best person for the job of quality management representative

While ISO 9001:2015 does not formally require a quality management representative, many companies have kept this position in place, as it can help with managing the Quality Management System. As I previously mentioned in the article What is the job of the quality management representative?, it is important to choose the best person for this job. This is imperative to make sure you can utilize your quality management rep as the leader of the QMS, and to ensure that the Quality Management System is effective, efficient, and improves over time. The manager may hold another position in the company, but viewing the role of management representative as having its own job description can help you to make sure that the person chosen is the best fit. Like any other management position in the company, choosing the wrong person could mean that your QMS implementation is, at best, sub-optimal and, at worst, a complete failure and waste of resources.

What to look for when choosing your quality management representative

Below, I look at the four parts of the job description of the quality management representative that are outlined in the ISO 9001 standard, and point out some of the characteristics that are key to performing this function.

Process maintenance of the QMS. In your company, you will have many different processes that are required to work together as a function of your Quality Management System. Each of these processes will have an owner, either formally or informally identified, who will know and understand the process and how it functions. These process owners will know what is needed to make the process run (the inputs) and what the process produces (the outputs), but being attentive to one process can cause a narrow focus, which does not allow you to look at the overall interaction of the processes. This is the skill and attribute that the management representative needs to bring to the table. While a process owner may understand their process in such a way that they can best drive improvement in their process and bring optimization within that process, the management rep is the one who needs to see how that optimization affects other processes.

In fact, it is not always in the best interest of the overall chain of processes to have one process optimized more than the others. This inequality can lead to process bottlenecks and unnecessary in-process inventory. The management representative needs to look at things such as whether all the outputs of one process are used in other processes; and, if not, they need to question if that output is actually needed in the overall scheme of the bigger process. This sort of high-level overview, yet in-depth questioning, are the cornerstones of the management representative’s role in process maintenance.

Reporting on the performance of the QMS. Collection and review of data is done in order for top management to make decisions with respect to the QMS. For this job requirement, you need to have someone who can not only dig into the data, but distill it down into a usable format for making decisions. Being able to know this balance of enough information to make a good decision, but not so much as to make the decision complicated, is a critical ability required for effective and efficient decision making during the management review. The quality management representative is given stewardship over this process and needs to be the one to master it.

Customer requirements promotion. In order to promote the customer requirements to the employees within the company, the quality management representative needs to not only know the requirements, but understand why they are there. If the requirements are known, but not understood, then defending them when questioned is difficult. It is not enough to just say, “It needs to be done because the customer wants it that way.” To promote the requirements, the management rep might need to explain them in a different way (a task that requires understanding), and here is the real skill that you need to look for in your appointment for quality management representative. Can the person explain the requirements so that different individuals can understand them? Making complicated ideas simple is a skill that a management rep should possess.

Liaison with external parties. Although acting as a liaison with external parties is an optional responsibility in the ISO 9001 standard, it is often required of a quality management rep. The management rep will need to meet with people, discuss their needs, understand their positions, defend the company when needed, reply to complaints and corrective actions in a well-thought-out and timely fashion, and, above all, work for the benefit of the company in all of these dealings. Having a manager who possesses the people skills required to maintain all of these relationships is crucial for the success of the QMS and the company.

Bring it all together

While it may be impossible to find the perfect manager for the job in your company, finding the person best suited for all the job responsibilities is one of the best things that can be done to ensure that the implementation and maintenance of the Quality Management System becomes a success. If you choose someone who can fulfill these requirements, you will be well on your way to having someone who can understand and promote the QMS both internally and externally. Although it is not a stated requirement of the job, having the right person as the champion of the QMS is the best way to make it prosper.

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Advisera Mark Hammar
Mark Hammar
Mark Hammar is a Certified Manager of Quality / Organizational Excellence through the American Society for Quality and has been a Quality Professional since 1994. Mark has experience in auditing, improving processes, and writing procedures for Quality, Environmental, and Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems, and is certified as a Lead Auditor for ISO 9001, AS9100, and ISO 14001.