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How to Become an Effective Director of Quality Assurance & Quality Control

by Deb Dupree

Successful quality assurance and quality control programs ensure products and services conform to customer requirements. Companies providing a product or service enlist skilled personnel, such as quality assurance and quality control directors, to plan and implement systems to keep quality in check. Directors are responsible for overseeing these systems and processes that make up total quality management best practices. They need in-depth knowledge and work experience to do an effective job.

Quality Assurance Plus Quality Control

Effective directors can distinguish between quality assurance and quality control. Quality assurance involves quality management through systems and process. Quality control involves routine tests, measurements and corrective actions. Both of these quality measures are put in place to detect, contain, control and eliminate defects or errors in production or service operations. Successful quality assurance and quality control directors understand the importance of both and have the skills and knowledge to integrate the two for on-going quality management.

Seeing the Big Picture

The ability to focus on the big picture is another successful trait of effective quality assurance and control directors. They know that customers drive quality and base quality solutions on customer needs and specifications. Directors are aware of external and internal factors that affect the ability to deliver quality products or services and are skilled in addressing these factors. For instance, managing and monitoring external factors such as supplier quality and internal factors such as production processes and human resources are a continual priority.

Having an Executable Plan

Quality assurance and control directors find value in planning quality management systems. They evaluate the technical and practical merits of quality solutions before implementation. This results in executable quality plans with actionable steps and checkpoints. Even though action items are delegated to direct reports, effective directors have a working knowledge of major plan elements and the ability to recognize when actions veer off course. Major quality plan elements include systems and tools needed for raw materials and inventory management, quality control monitoring procedures, documentation protocols and employee training and development.

Education and Hands-on Experience

Extensive experience and a deep working knowledge of quality management principles are crucial for effective quality directors. Many employers give preference to directors who have years of operations or management experience in quality systems, coupled with an undergraduate degree in a related field of study. Preference is also given to directors who have first-hand experience with quality tools such as statistical process control, Six Sigma and other globally recognized programs such as ISO 9000 series quality management and auditing systems.

People Skills and Personal Attributes

Directors of quality assurance and quality control oversee the implementation of new methods or procedures, or the revision of existing methods or procedures. Effective change management is a must for success. Attributes such as the ability to lead, coach and mentor employees through these changes are important. Because of multiple and competing priorities, effective directors are self-motivated and able to work and thrive in a fast-paced environment.

About the Author

Deb Dupree has been an active writer throughout her career in the corporate world and in public service since 1982. She has written numerous corporate and educational documents including project reports, procedures and employee training programs. She has a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the University of Tennessee.

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