There are times when a Quality practitioner may be called upon to support team members in ways that go beyond the strict interpretation of the role. These are described in a way that indicates the necessary situation, along with the constructive outcomes from such involvement.

Visible Participant:

Some company-wide initiatives have levels of urgency requiring most of the employees to augment their daily activities with additional tasks. One example I have encountered is a company-wide inventory reconciliation. This can be a quarterly or semi-annual exercise during which the stated inventory levels of raw materials, work in progress items, and finished goods are physically located and counted, and the variations are reported.

This is constructive to demonstrate the capabilities of the Quality practitioners, along with the importance of identifying and reducing the sources of deviations through process improvements. This also builds team cohesion across departments and promotes inclusion.

By starting the quarter with accurate baselines, the Quality function can operate more precisely and confidently with estimates, proposals, and solutions. The discipline of having multiple validations by physical counts, production references, and accounting values also promotes an ethic of company-wide alignment and corroboration, which can be leverages for other initiatives.


In cases when processes are unstable, leading to unpredictable results and urgent requests for correction, the Quality function can be engaged to impose more stringent controls as countermeasures to identified special causes. An example could be when product packaging does not sufficiently secure the product from being damaged during transportation. Additional controls could be applied in the shipping department to improve the durability of packaging. Product designs could also incorporate superior components and materials for greater reliability.

These types of assignments should be finite and limited to the point when regular operations can resume with the upgraded materials and revised processes. When the need for rework and corrections subsides, repeated successful process deliveries can provide objective evidence that the processes are sufficiently stable for the added monitoring and controls to be incrementally reduced.


This term is intended to convey the mindset of cleaning up and clearing out the damaged area or workplace following a series of critical incidents or defects. The Quality function is necessary to be fully immersed within these situations, not just as a passive observer but an active contributor to future mitigations. Since the cost of quality uses failure costs to determine and justify the breadth of preventive and appraisal costs, the quality function must be fully aware of the accurate costs and impacts of its critical failures. One example is when powder coating on a substrate does not have a consistent application on the surface but leaves visible gaps on the surface while having blistering and bubbling from excessive coating.

This should not be viewed as a penalty for quality misses, but as constructive opportunities for identifying lessons learned, product redesign innovations, and process enhancements. If the failures cannot be prevented, additional contingency measures could be applied. For example, if a water-based adhesion is subjected to low temperatures, the expected failure point could be anticipated and supported with secondary hardware fasteners to prevent the separation of components due to lost adhesion.


Organizations are driven by deadlines. If there was schedule slippage early in the project, efforts to meet a fixed date must be made to avoid penalties. The Quality function can support the rapid completion and “schedule crashing” of projects and process steps by identifying where and when value is added and working to remove the bottlenecks.

In some cases, the Quality function can be a mobile resource, travelling to vendors and partners to help expedite approvals and deliveries. Creative solutions (i.e. splitting shipments) can be coordinated and tracked by the Quality function to meet delivery deadlines and manage the additional logistical challenges. One example is when the Quality function travels to the vendor to perform a functional validation of components prior to delivery, so that upon receipt by the organization these components can be visually inspected and applied to the final shipment.

The constructive gains from these efforts lead to inter-departmental collaboration and cohesion, and a clear identification where value is added, and lengthy bottlenecks appear for resolution. These insights can support the repositioning, revised sequencing, and restructuring of material delivery, tasks, processes, and associated administration. Automation of communications (i.e. barcoding) can improve the accuracy of information communicated.

Process Enhancer:

The Quality function is accountable for compliance and customer satisfaction. These baselines are not constant nor static; ongoing innovation is required. For the Quality practitioner to manage and improve the processes, they must engage in it directly. This can validate that the process controls and working tools are suitable to consistently generate successful outcomes, or alternatively clearly identify process violations and defects. By actively completing the work of the processes, the Quality function can more accurately and effectively discern the essential tasks from the trivial and prioritize the support functions accordingly. For example, if a measuring instrument cannot correctly capture the data, its primary function is compromised. This measurement function is more essential than its aesthetic features and should be prioritized for reliability.

The Quality function can also track the exchanges between teams and the interfaces between human and automated functions. These exchanges and interfaces may provide additional sources of errors requiring resolution. However, if used positively, the same exchanges and interfaces can represent a type of process validation to secure and reaffirm the accuracy of the work performed.

Larger organizations have more team members and team, along with automated systems. These safeguards, reinforced by stringent handovers and settings, can be used to protect and sustain the physical, chemical, biological, and functional properties of the product. System improvements and process safeguards require immersive knowledge of the processes, which can only be obtained from significant durations of process exposure.


There are situations where the talents and capabilities of the Quality practitioner may be needed for other organizational priorities. One example is for public-facing opportunities like exhibitions and trade shows. The Quality function can support the business development and product management teams by providing their technical acumen and contextual guidance to discussions. It also raises the credibility of the organization when Quality resources are profiled and involved.

In turn, the Quality function can be strengthened through the enhancement of skills and exposure to different situations. This could be a countermeasure to the propensity of Quality practitioners to be too analytical and theoretical; direct contact with customers can help to refine messages that resonate throughout the organization. Cross-training can help to entrench the voice of the customer throughout the organization for alignment with goals, management systems, and processes.

Trusted Steward:

The Quality function will be exposed to a series of failures and breakthroughs. The impact and effect of different decisions and approaches will be captured and retained within a management system. If done correctly, the Quality leader will emerge as a trusted advisor and resource within the organization, and a promoter of optimal practices.

This virtuous involvement could enable the Quality resource to be viewed as a trusted leader within the organization, taking governance of additional responsibilities, broader teams with increased scope, and leading departments and significant organizational components. Examples of adjacent functions could include supply chain management, business analysis, order management, training, customer service, and maintenance.

Even if the leadership is not explicit, being a trusted steward within an organization could make one be seen as a tribal elder, to whom questions, and concurrence are directed prior to engaging in significant endeavors. This is particularly necessary if there are periods of instability or transformation which may be characterized by staffing changes, organizational restructuring, or mergers and acquisitions.

To summarize, a Quality leader within an organization must be willing to be engaged and involved in tasks and accountabilities that exceed and extend beyond the formal scope and descriptions of the Quality role. The greater needs and priorities of the organization drive both failures and opportunities, and the Quality role is not exempt from either circumstance. For an organization to be Quality-driven, the Quality function must be highly visible and ever-present.