Quality Blog


Five Things a Quality Engineer Should Know

May 2, 2014

Quality Engineers are involved, among other things, with the monitoring, inspection and testing of products. Quality Engineers should know how to apply the best practices in their field so that they can provide the facilitation needed for implementation of an effective quality management system in their organization. Mastery of the following five skills helps Quality Engineers become an effective asset to their business.

1. Business Management System

 A business management system provides the structure for implementation of procedures and processes which result in the completion of tasks that are aligned to the enterprise’s mission. In addition to the effective execution of day-to-day activities, effective management systems integrate performance metrics, analytically and innovatively determined strategies and improvement efforts to benefit the enterprise as a whole.

Quality Engineers should also know how to create and use a business management system for the integration of business process management (BPM) and techniques with improvement efforts (e.g., Lean Six Sigma).

As part of this system, Quality Engineers should know how to facilitate the implementation of an organizational value chain that describes what functions do and how they measure functional performance relative to quality, cost and time. 

2. Time Series Tracking For Process Metrics

Within a business management system, metrics should have a ″time-series″ view and not just simple snapshots of separate activities at certain points in time. This form of tracking can help Quality Engineers identify trends as well as distinguish common and special cause variability within processes. Developing effective process metrics using a 30,000-foot-level time-series approach can provide a process predictive statement when the process is stable. With this tracking approach, organizations can identify if there are gaps in the capability of their products or processes that need to be resolved.

Through time-series tracking, along with capability statements, determining the degree of improvement that is needed and which initiatives shall be given priority can be very valuable. The classic saying proposes: "It is only possible to manage things that you are capable of measuring." This is especially true in quality improvement engineering.

 3. Process Documentation

Quality Engineers should be able to create proper documentation that describes how processes are executed and how problems are detected. Quality Engineers also should be able to effectively use a process flowcharting program and work with teams to create processes and associated documentation.

Additionally, Quality Engineers should be able to build a value chain that describes the integration of organizational procedures and their functional metrics. Organizations benefit when their up-to-date organizational value chain is available to everyone who has authorization and an Internet connection, via a click of the mouse. When good process documentation exists and is followed, no concern should prevail when external audits occur.

4. Data Analysis

Often organizations spend much of their time in firefighting mode, where emphasis is given to working on the problem of the day. Unfortunately, after much effort is expended resolving the current problem, the issue often recoccurs. For these situations, the root cause of the problem was not really resolved when it was initially encountered. 

Effective Quality Engineers transition organizations from an environment of firefighting to fire prevention. To accomplish this, Quality Engineers need to be able to conduct data analyses and statistical assessments so that the organization gains insight into what causes not only special-cause events, but common-cause capability issues as well. These analyses can provide much insight into process understanding for the purpose of reducing waste and defects.   

5. Organizational Metrics Improvement

As part of an organizational business management system, Quality Engineers should know how to make improvements that enhance the metrics of an organization. This goal is attainable by effectively utilizing metrics to encourage improvement efforts. Quality Engineers should be able to assess product performances in totality to allow the company to gauge their capabilities for product performance, as well as gauge their effectiveness in recognizing gaps in these measurements.

Moreover, Quality Engineers should help companies put their improvement initiatives in priority and evaluate alignment with the company’s established returns, strategies and requirements for investment. By knowing how to make improvements, organizations benefit and executives appreciate the benefit of the Quality Engineer’s efforts with their team. Quality Engineers also should be familiar with the execution of the Lean Six Sigma Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control (DMAIC) improvement project execution roadmap so that their enterprise benefits as whole.

 Summary

Quality Engineers can be a more valuable asset to their organizations when they expand a silo scoping of their work efforts to orchestrate the big picture and its associated processes. 

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