In our series on the arenas of digitalization, we deal with the requirements and tasks that arise for the quality manager as a result of digital change. In this article we deal with the requirements imposed by standards and laws – certainly the most important field of action for the quality manager and an integral part of his or her daily quality work.
The Automotive Core Tools – the first arena that was discussed in our BloQ – are of immense importance because they address the fundamental requirements of the automotive customers/industry. In addition to customer-specific requirements, the focus is always on the compliant implementation of requirements from standards and laws, e.g. from ISO 9001 and in particular IATF 16949. These and other standards pose challenges for companies: for quality management, they mean bringing the sometimes ambitious requirements of the standards, legal texts and individual customer requirements in line with sometimes conflicting organizational structures or expectations in the own company. This is made more difficult by ever smaller batch sizes and the increasing individualization of products.
QM in an Ivory Tower?
Customer requirements, standards and laws continue to gain in importance and it is not to be expected that this will decrease again in the coming years. On the contrary, the introduction of a uniform chapter structure (High Level Structure) in all management system standards is expected to result in additional effort, at least initially, to achieve and maintain conformity with the standards. For quality management and the companies concerned, this second arena remains a permanent topic; for some it may even be a controversial topic.
The challenges often go hand in hand with a criticism of quality management: the discussion about constantly new and generally higher requirements is thus linked to an increasingly coded language of certifiers, auditors (internal/external) and quality managers. This group of people would build an ivory tower for themselves, consisting of incomprehensible requirements, obstacles for outsiders, unnecessary bureaucracy and too little benefit for their own company.
Courage to Participate
From this criticism, however, a request could be derived – perhaps even to the displeasure of some quality managers. Quality managers should not only take care of “their” quality, but also actively shape the company structures and processes with their know-how. The prerequisite for this is that quality managers bring themselves into play, approach their colleagues, help shape them and discover what makes organizations what they are: the people behind them, who want to do and achieve good with passion and conviction. Only when quality processes find their way into the various corporate structures can requirements be completely fulfilled and quality become an important parameter.