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Mark Hammar

How to document roles and responsibilities according to AS9100 Rev D

Roles and responsibilities are critical to the proper functioning of the aerospace Quality Management System (QMS), and they need to be defined by top management of the company. This is one of the key requirements of leadership in AS9100 Rev D; but, as with all requirements of the standard, there is no define way to do this for all companies.

So, here are my tips on how to document roles and responsibilities in your QMS – this article is an excerpt from chapter 5 of my book Applying AS9100 Rev D: The hassle-free approach to implementing an aerospace QMS for small business.

Purpose and decisions

Assigning and communicating roles and responsibilities is important, because that is how all employees in the company will know what is expected of them, what their impact is on quality management, and how they can contribute.

More precisely, top management must assign top-level responsibilities and authorities for two main aspects:

  • First are the responsibilities for ensuring that the QMS fulfills the requirements of AS9100.
  • Second are the responsibilities for monitoring the performance of the QMS, reporting to top management, and ensuring the integrity of the QMS is maintained when changes are made.

On the lower organizational level, quality roles and responsibilities will be assigned as regular tasks such as dealing with nonconforming products and services. These tasks should be given to the people who are probably already doing them, only now these roles and responsibilities will become more formal. Monitoring and reporting should also be done through regular channels. Typically, the direct superior of particular employees is in charge of monitoring them, and reporting results.

Options

The top-level responsibilities and authorities for the QMS must be given to one person in the company called the management representative, however, the responsibilities may be delegated. This management representative must have the organizational freedom to resolve quality management issues, including unrestricted access to top management in order to do so. This means your management representative must be able to go directly to your top management, including your CEO, if that’s what needs to happen in order to sort out a problem in the QMS.

Documentation

You can document the general quality management roles and responsibilities in job descriptions, or as part of the organizational chart, or in the Quality Policy. Of course, you should document specific quality roles and responsibilities in various policies, procedures, plans, and other documents that you will develop as part of the AS9100 implementation.

In other words, there is no need to have one document that would centrally define all detailed quality roles and responsibilities. Such document wouldn’t be practical because of the redundancy – any time you would change some role or responsibility in a particular procedure, you would have to change it also in this central document. Sooner or later, a discrepancy would occur, and believe me – such a situation is a big problem when dealing with the documentation.

The goal of documenting roles and responsibilities

There are many different ways, as you can see, to document the roles and responsibilities within your QMS. The key criterium to keep in mind is this: what is the best way for your organization to document the required roles and responsibilities of the QMS so that your employees know who needs to do what?

Remember, as with the entire QMS, how you document roles and responsibilities is a decision you need to make to benefit you and your employees; it is not something that needs to be done to satisfy an external auditor or to make the job of certification auditing easier. Do what is best for you to get the job done properly, because the reason you have a QMS in the first place is to provide a benefit to you.

This article is an excerpt from the book Applying AS9100 Rev D: The hassle-free approach to implementing an aerospace QMS for small business.

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