Today was a fun day at work. Basically our president had a “come to Jesus” meeting with all of us concerning customer complaints and corrective actions. Or lack thereof.
All precipitated by li’l ol me!
And what was my crime, you ask? I told our customer the truth as to why they received product that was outside their specification limits.
So, for many months now the quality department (of which I am a part) has been hammered because when we do root cause analysis on customer issues, we have been doing an ineffective job. We aren’t using 5-why analyses, getting to true root cause and then implementing solid corrective and preventive actions. Which then leads to repeat issues. And we’re sending half-assed responses to the customer just to placate them.
Sadly, all of this is true.
The reason for this is mainly a resource issue. Doing a good root cause analysis with a team involvement and coming up with good actions takes time. Lots of time. But our president has been driving lean initiatives, we just don’t have the people. And my boss (the plant manager) wont’t allocate supervisors or the additional time needed.
Which leaves the quality department (aka “me”) to perform the root cause analysis, write the reports, and implement the corrective actions on my own.
Hence the initial “you guys aren’t doing a good enough job!” Feedback.
Recently we had an issue with a customer where the product didn’t meet one of their requirements, but we shipped it anyway. “Why would we do that?” You ask.
Well, that was in my “root cause analysis”.
You see, this is an older item that we’ve been making for about 20 years. And in that time, we (i.e. The Company) has had several instances where material that didn’t meet specification was released for shipment. With no issues reported by the customer, btw.
But why? Well, someone way back decided “heck yeah, we can make it!” Only thing is, the customer has really tight requirements and our process has proven that it isn’t capable all the time.
So why didn’t we fix it?
Well, evidently it was just easier for my predecessors to turn a blind eye to the issue and just send the material.
And then add to all this, we decided to make a change to how we manufacture the material– without telling the customer of course. This was done merely as a way to save us money by saving processing steps and time.
Mind you, all of these changes and decisions were made behind my back without my knowledge. I mean, why would I need to know? I’m only the goddamn quality manager. Oh, and the corrective actions were all decided without me as well.
So, now I find myself faced with being responsible for writing the root cause analysis and corrective action report to the customer. Which I did.
And in the report I told the customer that we made an uncommunicated process change, made material that didn’t meet their spec (most likely as a result) and then consciously decided to ship said product based on our previous history of shipping similar out-of-specification material.
Before this corrective action went out, however, I gave my boss a copy of it for his approval. And when I gave it to him I said “You need to read this because sales doesn’t want me telling all this to the customer.”
My boss physically signed off on it (per procedure), after which I sent it to sales and said, “You need to read this and if you have any issues you need to get with my boss about it.”
They pow-wow’d and decided that the corrective action could go to the customer as-is.
So it was sent.
Then somehow our president found out and BOOM! Fireworks. Explosions. Much anger. Much concern about “opening us to liability” and “we’ve told them everything”.
Which is why we had a big ol’ group meeting about corrective action procedure today.
And then a private meeting with my two bosses, the president, and me, where I was called out for my role in the corrective action response. And drilled for AGAIN not doing an effective corrective action to get to the REAL root cause of this decades old issue.
Oddly enough I remained dead calm through everything. I took everything in stride and was amenable to the “constructive feedback”. It’s almost like I don’t care anymore.
Which, in all honesty, I pretty much don’t.
I keep thinking “As much as I like stability and the money, is it really worth it to stay employed with this company?” More often than not the answer comes back “No.”
I’m at my tenth anniversary here. We’ll see if I make it to Elevensies.