There is a tendency in the quality management field to confuse the root cause of a problem with the problem’s real cause. A root cause is objective evidence of a quality problem. The real cause of a quality problem, however, is the actual finding or nonconformance.
Uncovering real causes of quality issues and problems requires different, deeper scrutiny than identifying root causes. Mistaking one for the other can lead to the perpetuation of cycles such as this one:
If you’re a quality professional who has been with the same organization for multiple years, this recursive pattern is likely to sound familiar. When multiple change-related root causes arise, it soon becomes evident that they are symptomatic of a deeper-seated cause.
In his foundational book on management audits, Allan Sayle concluded that there are just six real causes of all quality problems.(1) For each of the six causes, Sayle outlined specific sub-cause indicators, the identification of which can enable an auditor to properly assign a real cause for a quality problem. Attributing a quality problem to one or more of the sub-causes listed below can help your company identify the real cause and devise a change to mitigate or eliminate it.
Now that you know what problems to look for, the next step is ensuring your personnel have the right tools and skillsets to identify and rectify them.
Quality practices can vary widely across different industries and countries. That being the case, there is not a blanket quality problem identification certification that applies globally to all business sectors. However, there are a variety of specialized certifications, such as those offered by the American Society for Quality (ASQ), that formally recognize an individual’s proficiency within, and comprehension of, specific quality knowledge.
ASQ offers professional certifications in the following areas:
For professionals seeking quality problem identification programs, ASQ offers Certified Quality Inspector (CQI) training. CQI certification ensures an inspector has learned proven techniques for inspecting products, measuring process performance, recording data, evaluating hardware documentation, performing laboratory procedures, and preparing formal reports.
Unearthing and correcting real causes can dramatically reduce the occurrence and severity of quality problems. Determining real causes also helps diminish the dysfunctions caused by CAPA overload. But you need the right set of tools to identify real causes efficiently and effectively.
A digital, fully integrated quality management system (QMS) simplifies real cause discovery. It’s much easier to identify the real causes of problems when you can rely on a unified platform that connects quality data across your products’ life cycles and within a common architecture. A connected QMS platform gives you greater real-time visibility into quality data, which pushes real problems to the fore.
To learn how your organization can identify real causes with greater speed and accuracy, visit MasterControl’s product life cycle managementplatform page.
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