The ABCs of Quality Program Development

So many organizations view compliance as a necessary evil that is only followed to get a contract. Sadly, that mentality results in substantial rejections and rework required. However, when ownership shifts from “do only what we must” to continuous compliance, rejections and reworks often drop by as much as 25%. For any business, that savings adds up fast! So, how do you make the shift to continuous compliance? Your organization needs to implement an effective Quality Program. Developing a Quality Program is a time-consuming and labor-intensive effort, which is why so many organizations shy away from doing it. But much like the adage, “sharpening the saw,” the overall output will far exceed the input.

There are six crucial steps to creating a quality program that will favor continuous compliance. Let’s dive in and review the ABCs of Quality Program Development.

Step One: Identify Needs Based on Conformance Requirements

To plan a route on a map, you need to know your intended destination. The same goes for any program development. The first step is to identify what standard your organization is trying to conform to. For example, do your contracts/industry require conformance to ASME, AWS, ISO, NADCAP, or AISC standards? Once you have identified the necessary standard, you have a foundation to move forward.

Step Two: Complete an Audit/Assessment

To identify areas of improvement, conduct an audit or assessment. Look at your current quality program and compare it to the standard you are trying to meet. Map out all the gaps between the two. The identified program deficits will give you the direction you need for the next step.

Step Three: Build Program Modules

Now that you have identified where you want to go and what steps you need to take to get there, it is time to build your program modules and the accompanying written practices. Program modules will need to contain safety, contract document review (to obtain the project requirements), material purchasing, receiving inspections, cutting, forming, fitting, the special process (welding), post-weld treatments, and inspection.

Step Four: Implementation

Successful implementation of your new Quality Program begins with training. From welders, formers, and cutters to the quality assurance inspection staff and management and all the way up the chain, all parties need to thoroughly understand the program and why each step is relevant to the process. If you do not have buy-in from the bottom up and the top down, people tend to naturally fall back into the way things have always been done.
The second part of implementation is to have the welders and the quality assurance inspectors become certified per conformance to the applicable standard. The required certifications should be clearly documented in the company Quality Program, written Practice, and Procedures.

Step Five: Exit Audit

Performing the Exit Audit facilitates bridging the gap between the production and quality departments. As the quality department puts each program step into action with the production staff, they gain a sense of ownership. This combination of big-picture thinking and ownership will ensure that the program survives.

Step Six: Six-Month Program Check-in

Once the Quality Program has been in force for six months, perform a check-in. Look for roadblocks, gaps, or other issues causing unnecessary delays, rejections, or reworks. Complete a root-cause analysis for all flaws with the program, develop a plan of action for course correction, and then implement it.

ETMS Can Help!

Developing a Quality Program often requires a fundamental culture shift with lots of hand-holding and accountability. The process generally takes between 7 and 8 months to complete if you have a Quality Manager with expertise in the requisite conformance standard(s). Many organizations do not have the payroll budget for this. That is where ETMS comes in.

ETMS offers a full complement of training and consulting services, including Quality Program Development. Our team of experienced consultants has helped many companies reach their full potential through our in-depth program development. We have found that even small holes in business operations and logistics can hold an otherwise functional company back.

ETMS will develop a structured plan, resolving the problems from the inside out. We work with you to help reestablish your organization’s perspective and, through detailed examination, empower you to run your business more efficiently and effectively.

Want to decrease your weld rejections and rework from 25-30% down to 5-10%?

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