You might hear people at work talking about the management system, quality management system or simply the quality system. All three terms refer to the same thing: A series of interlinking processes that must work together effectively to supply whatever it is your company is in business to supply. Beyond profitability, every company’s goal is to keep operating costs as low as possible while supplying products or services that meet customers’ expectations; a good quality system achieves that goal. Most people in the company focus on one or more specific links in the chain of processes. A quality system coordinator, however, keeps an eye on the entire chain. According to the American Society for Quality, the average salary for a quality system coordinator in 2012 was $57,718 with a median of $51,000.
Knowledge and Skills
Most companies require a quality system coordinator to have a bachelor’s degree with a science or technical focus. The coordinator should have basic knowledge of process mapping or flow-charting to help her recognize process steps, inputs and outputs, and also to see how processes interconnect to form the overall quality system. Organizational skills will help her to recognize and meet internal document control specifications. She should also understand statistics enough to be able to recognize upward or downward trends in process performance and customer satisfaction. Good communication and computer skills will enable her to interact with process owners and operators, and to provide reports and recommendations to management.
Quality Systems Standards
Most companies today have quality management systems that meet the requirements of a global standard, such as ISO-9001. Developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), ISO-9001 describes what companies must do to make sure worker competencies and process capabilities can produce and deliver what the customer needs every time. ISO-9001 also defines management responsibilities to those workers and processes. One responsibility is to assign a management representative who will keep executives informed and involved in making sure the system is robust enough to remain competitive. A quality system coordinator typically reports to that management representative, and will need to understand both the company’s quality system and the requirements of ISO-9001.
A quality system coordinator helps to make sure every key process has a meaningful metric assigned to it. She also collects, organizes and distributes information to management describing trends in process performance. Process metrics are statistical measures that show how effectively a process is performing. Key processes are those that can result in quality defects if they are not effectively controlled. Meaningful metrics are measures that have some statistical value. Measuring the number of defects produced by a process that has not produced a single defect in five years provides no value. A quality system coordinator should be able to recognize value-adding and non-value adding metrics.
A quality system coordinator coordinates internal and external audits of the quality system. Audits are regularly performed by internal auditors to make sure the quality system remains effective, capable and compliant with customer requirements and standards such as ISO-9001. External audits confirm compliance and allow the company to maintain certification to prove to customers its quality system is sound. The coordinator typically works with auditors and process owners to schedule these audits, to make sure the audits occur as planned, and to bring the audit to closure. Audit closure includes coordinating any corrective actions required based on audit findings. The coordinator might also be expected to perform internal audits.
A careers content writer, Debra Kraft is a former English teacher whose 25-plus year corporate career includes training and mentoring. She holds a senior management position with a global automotive supplier and is a senior member of the American Society for Quality. Her areas of expertise include quality auditing, corporate compliance, Lean, ERP and IT business analysis.