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Establishing good working relationships between QC and Production

Production communication HACCP SQF

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#1 Ronald/H/Bibbins

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Posted 25 April 2016 - 08:08 PM

Hi All!

 

Apologies if this is posted in an unrelated topic forum. I was hoping if anyone would be able to offer any resources or advice on how to build good working relationships between on site Quality Control/Assurance and Production management. In my previous employment, it was sometimes difficult to enforce changes in HACCP/SQF protocols when production felt that it hindered their ability to function. It put strain on quality control technicians having to maintain the FSMS when production did not put their full support behind the changes that occurred. I will be happy to provide details but in summation both departments could have worked together more effectively to increase product safety and quality.

 

Currently I am fielding for a position at a company whose new facility would be undergoing major FSMS changes in order to achieve the standard of it's parent organization. If I get the position, I would have the opportunity to work within the organization to build the sights safety plan and help maintain it for future expansion. I want to utilize every possible tool to create a robust FSMS with high accountability and integrity. A key factor in accomplishing this, I believe, is to establish a solid working relationship with the head of production to minimize communication issues and foster a great working relationship between our departments.

 

If anyone can offer tips, or resources on how to foster interdepartmental teamwork, I would greatly appreciate it.

 

Best regards,

 

Ronald


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#2 GMO

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Posted 25 April 2016 - 09:21 PM

I have to admit I'm currently having issues but here's what I've (successfully) used in the past and what I've fallen down on.

 

1.  Get senior management commitment.  I have to admit until very recently I thought this was a BS term but actually it's not.  Having seen sites now which don't have it, any sustained change fails without it.  So get the big bosses on board if you can and if you can't, keep trying!

 

2.  Make sure you communicate, communicate, communicate.  Get middle management on board with the "why".  Offer to help them.  Don't be one of those "this is what I advise you, my work here is done" people.  It's difficult to strike a balance though because some of these things will be their responsibility and should stay their responsibility.  You can't do everything but you can help.

 

3.  Communicate face to face if you can.  Ops people are busy.  I've been one and it was one of the most hellish jobs I had even though I was successful in it.  If you mail someone, it won't get seen.  Better to speak face to face, phone is a second place option.  A "3rd place" is a good idea to choose to have an informal meet up, if you have a nice canteen or coffee area, this can be good so you get to all have a break while working on how to improve and focussing on the team.

 

4.  Ideally, and I know this is the British solution to everything (apart from nice cups of tea), go out together for a drink.  Nothing brings a team together like a night out.

 

5.  Don't forget the positive.  At the end of an audit, whether it's internal or external, always tell people the positive stuff.  Every time an external auditor comes in, I ask them to give us some positive feedback as well as negative (because they normally forget to do so).  I record this and communicate to the factory staff before they get to see the non conformances.  Ideally if you can, celebrate the successes you do have as a team (see number 4!)

 

But all that said?  I'm not in a great place right now with ops buy in to Technical.  Relations aren't bad but their bosses aren't bought in so everything falls down.  So this is where I come to number 6...

 

6.  Occasionally lose your temper.  If you are normally mild mannered and have tried all the "soft, coaching" ways to exact change, sometimes a "you really need to ****ing do this" goes down well because sometimes in a factory, it's the one who shouts the loudest.  But use this sparingly.

 

7.  Apologise.  If you do make a mistake in your approach (or using number 6 too often!)  Show your fallible side as nothing goes down better with people than "hey, I mess up too!  Now let's work together."

I'd be interested in all the other opinions though!


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#3 Watanka

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Posted 25 April 2016 - 10:47 PM

Ronald,

 

GMO gave you some good advice.  I would add a bit more on the senior management buy-in.  The biggest sell is getting them to share your vision.  If your vision and supporting goals are SQF driven use the code to your best advantage.  "There is this code out there and we've got to be in compliance..."  Once they have your back then department managers will see eventually the light. 

 

Department managers are going to be your champions.  You need to be able to work through them to be successful.  I use education on the SQF code, one-on-one coach/counseling, documentation and taking lots of pictures.  I put the pictures into presentations that I send to the department managers (no senior managers - this is not beat up time) along with little captions that very briefly identify the issue.  Along with the pictures is a brief trend analysis - no graphs or charts, just bullets describing the low-hanging fruit yet to be picked.  I congratulate and flatter where needed; use passion and direction as required.  It is important that when you speak you speak with the senior management's voice. 

 

And they also know you could share it with senior management if needed.  Whenever I visit one of our facilities I want the department managers to know hat I am on their side and have a code to implement and maintain with their help, or without it.  If all else fails you've got the documentation and evidence in the form of pictures - and the department managers know it.

 

Good luck!


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#4 Charles.C

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Posted 26 April 2016 - 02:44 AM

Hi Ronald,

 

I admire the philosophy in previous posts.  I particularly agree with GMO's first 2 requirements.

 

No wish to be a pessimist but I suggest that the best of intentions may need a fertile environment to flower in. IMO there are a few more, so far unspecified, variables which may  influence the chances of compatible progress as far as your own situation is concerned  -

 

(1) Size of Company.

(2) Product/Process.

(3) Company Politics.

(4) Company Philosopy/Support/Resources regarding "Quality".

(5) Company's own financial situation/significance within the Group.

(6) Specific internal set-up vis-a-vis QA/Production/TopManagement.

(7) Your own Technical Qualifications

The above are obviously interdependent. I would have added "Location" in a generic list.

 

As one negative example you can see numerous threads on this forum where small-sized companies have become battlegrounds. There are also a few threads in which  QA people state to be consistently  "happy" with their internal working arrangements. Maybe the criteria vary also although lack of money is pretty much universal afai can see.

 

There are 2 oft-heard phrases in the Manufacturing Business (and others) -

 

Production is King.

Quality is Everybody's Business.

IMEX it has rarely been a simple fusion. = "Checks and Balances" ?

 

The rise and demands of Private FSMS System audits on top of Regulatory necessities has simply highlighted/expanded the difficulties. I predict that most Top Managements regard achieving a successful audit as the "responsibility" of the QA Department whatever the Company Policy may say.


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Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#5 GMO

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Posted 26 April 2016 - 05:42 AM

Ronald,

 

GMO gave you some good advice.  I would add a bit more on the senior management buy-in.  The biggest sell is getting them to share your vision.  If your vision and supporting goals are SQF driven use the code to your best advantage.  "There is this code out there and we've got to be in compliance..."  Once they have your back then department managers will see eventually the light. 

 

Department managers are going to be your champions.  You need to be able to work through them to be successful.  I use education on the SQF code, one-on-one coach/counseling, documentation and taking lots of pictures.  I put the pictures into presentations that I send to the department managers (no senior managers - this is not beat up time) along with little captions that very briefly identify the issue.  Along with the pictures is a brief trend analysis - no graphs or charts, just bullets describing the low-hanging fruit yet to be picked.  I congratulate and flatter where needed; use passion and direction as required.  It is important that when you speak you speak with the senior management's voice. 

 

And they also know you could share it with senior management if needed.  Whenever I visit one of our facilities I want the department managers to know hat I am on their side and have a code to implement and maintain with their help, or without it.  If all else fails you've got the documentation and evidence in the form of pictures - and the department managers know it.

 

Good luck!

 

Yes absolutely!  Using pictures for communication is really important, especially if you have a work place with multiple languages.  Thinking about how you communicate is key as well and urging others to keep talking about food safety.


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#6 GMO

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Posted 26 April 2016 - 05:43 AM

Hi Ronald,

 

I admire the philosophy in previous posts.  I particularly agree with GMO's first 2 requirements.

 

No wish to be a pessimist but I suggest that the best of intentions may need a fertile environment to flower in. IMO there are a few more, so far unspecified, variables which may  influence the chances of compatible progress as far as your own situation is concerned  -

 

(1) Size of Company.

(2) Product/Process.

(3) Company Politics.

(4) Company Philosopy/Support/Resources regarding "Quality".

(5) Company's own financial situation/significance within the Group.

(6) Specific internal set-up vis-a-vis QA/Production/TopManagement.

(7) Your own Technical Qualifications

The above are obviously interdependent. I would have added "Location" in a generic list.

 

As one negative example you can see numerous threads on this forum where small-sized companies have become battlegrounds. There are also a few threads in which  QA people state to be consistently  "happy" with their internal working arrangements. Maybe the criteria vary also although lack of money is pretty much universal afai can see.

 

There are 2 oft-heard phrases in the Manufacturing Business (and others) -

 

Production is King.

Quality is Everybody's Business.

IMEX it has rarely been a simple fusion. = "Checks and Balances" ?

 

The rise and demands of Private FSMS System audits on top of Regulatory necessities has simply highlighted/expanded the difficulties. I predict that most Top Managements regard achieving a successful audit as the "responsibility" of the QA Department whatever the Company Policy may say.

 

Yes, I admit that my checklist was more ideal than reality at the moment which is why I've had to resort to number 6 last week.  


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#7 Simon

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Posted 26 April 2016 - 07:28 AM

Welcome Ronald, great question and lots of fantastic advice from members.

On the face of it the demands of food safety and quality conflict with production. Historically the key goal of production was getting product out on time and in full, if possible at the required quality level.  Cleaning, good organisation, measuring, auditing, checking, testing etc. "get in the way" and "suck time and people".  In actual fact the disciplines of FSQMS not only support output and efficiency they provide a firm foundation for continual improvement. IF implemented in a sensible, efficient and non-bureaucratic way, with an eye on maximising productivity and efficiency.  That’s the key. This can only be done in partnership with and the active involvement of production staff in the FSQMS with cleaning, auditing, teams, meetings, projects, reporting etc.

If production management are unwilling to be involved and to allow their staff to be involved then that’s where senior management must ensure it happens. 

If you are meeting with the senior management as part of this new role you should share your vision of how it can work and what is required from all parties.

Good luck.

Regards,
Simon


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Best Regards,

Simon Timperley
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#8 Ronald/H/Bibbins

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Posted 26 April 2016 - 12:07 PM

Thank you all so much for taking the time in giving such detailed and thoughtful responses.

 

I understand that each company will have it's own specific problems regarding food safety, and I will keep all of this in mind to help make my position as effective as possible.

 

I look forward to coming to this forum for support in the future.


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#9 Simon

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Posted 26 April 2016 - 12:10 PM

You're welcome Ronald.

 

Best of luck and hope to see you around.

 

Regards,

Simon


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Best Regards,

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Need food safety advice?
Relax, you've come to the right place…

The IFSQN is a helpful network of volunteers providing answers and support. Check out the forums and get free advice from the experts on food safety management systems and a wide range of food safety topics.

 
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#10 elengidaka

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Posted 28 April 2016 - 04:22 PM

Let me add to what Charles said that  there are  two common phrases used in the manufacturing business.  That is production is king while QA is for everybody.

 

Have  it at the back of your mind that production is target driven that is the most reason they don't seems to listen to QA for advice. But for you to win them to your side you must involve  management at all time. Then from time to time  hold meetings with your staff and  production  staff for people to air out their views on issues bothering on both side. From here you will be able to pick out some silent  points that will  enable you to succeed. When everything is good production takes the glory but  if there are complaints the hammer falls on QA.

Watch out for petty  office politics inside the work environment. Don't always play it cool at all times so that you may not be taken for granted. Stick to your word in the area of assuring what is being produce .Take time to go round the factory  and discuss with the operatives for  them to open up to you. Advice people to own up their mistakes for corrective actions to be taken which in turn will create room for continuous improvement.

Thank you

Eleng


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