Quality managers, also known as quality assurance or quality control managers, are responsible for developing and implementing quality management systems (QMS) and procedures. They also monitor and report on performance of those systems. Quality managers work in a wide range of sectors, including manufacturing, engineering, food production, petrochemicals, transport and the public service sector.
Work may focus on a particular physical aspect, for example, looking at component quality on an assembly production line, or it may be dealing with cross-departmental administrative issues, such as reviewing working practices within an organisation. The specific duties will vary according to the sector but in all cases, the outcome is to achieve a standard of product or service which satisfies client requirements.
A quality manager employs a variety of methods to improve the product or service being offered. These include checks against national and international standards such as:
ISO 9000 - standard around which QMS can be developed; ISO 14001- standards against which a company can build an Environmental Management System (EMS) reflecting the environmental awareness and legislative compliance; BS 7799 - standards for implementing an Information Security Management System (ISMS) that protects the integrity of a company's data and information. For more information on quality standards and training providers, contact the British Standards Institution in Further Information.
An organisation's key performance indicators (KPIs) are another yardstick used to assess business performance and identify areas for improvement.
Managers also use methodologies such as Total Quality Management, involving the workforce at all levels to continually improve processes and procedures, and Business Process Management techniques and software to analyse and enhance performance.Generic duties carried out by quality managers include:
Quality managers normally have responsibility for quality control technicians and report to senior project, departmental or operations managers.
Quality managers usually work 37 to 40 hours a week. If working in manufacturing, shiftwork may be required.
Work settings depend on the sector the manager is employed in. Some of the duties are office based, some may be in a lab, and some will be linked to a production or processing line.
Travel between sites and clients is common, so a driving licence is useful.
To be a quality control manager you should:
Managers working in manufacturing, engineering, pharmaceuticals, food processing or construction will need strong technical skills relevant to those fields.
Opportunities are available in a wide range of public and private sector organisations. Quality control and assurance is playing an increasingly important role as a way of demonstrating a company's competitiveness.
Progression routes include moves into departmental management positions, coordination of quality projects, and strategic management and planning.
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