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MONASH UNIVERSITY

FACULTY OF BUSINESS & ECONOMICS

/ %'^,;

THE ROLE AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF


QUALITY MANAGERS
Dianne Waddell
23.mi?.i998'

Working Paper 20/98


January 1998

ABSTRACT
This project was an attempt to identify the roles and responsibilities of Quality Managers in
Australia. It has been presumed that they are a homogeneous group with identical goals,
objectives and methods. This study investigated if this was the case and challenges the
assumptions of this perception. Such an exercise had not been attempted in this country nor
overseas. Using a questionnaire, the research aim was to investigate whether their
perceptions and experience vary and if it is possible to create a profile of the typical Quality
Manager.
The research study assessed the education, career progression, job content and reward
perceptions of Quality Managers in 1,000 Australian organisations which are registered with
the Quality Assurance Services. This was a similar approach as in the study by D'Netto,
Sohal and Trevillyan (1996) regarding Production Managers and the results may also be used
to compare and contrast the experience of quality managers with those of
production/operations managers as identified in their report. The data has been collated and
analysed and a managerial role responsibilities framework has been suggested which may
represent the complex activities of Quality Managers and which may be used as a valuable
database by Human Resources Managers in their strategic planning for continuous
improvement.
Such a study is conspicuous by its absence. It is an area that has been overlooked in the push
for a competitive advantage but a thorough understanding of the roles and responsibilities of
Quality Managers is crucial for successful implementation of quality management.

THE ROLE AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF QUALITY MANAGERS


INTRODUCTION
Although the quality movement has been prominent in Australia for the past decade, no
research into the perceptions of Quality Managers, and their role and responsibilities, has
been conducted. It has been assumed that Quality Mangers are a homogenous group with
identical goals, objectives and methods (Jeffrey, 1992). This investigation challenges this
assumption and presents evidence that suggests there is no 'typical' profile of a Quality
Manager.
The aim of this research is to assess the education, career progression, job content and
responsibilities, and reward perceptions of Quality Managers in Australian organisations
which appear in the JAS-ANZ Register of Accredited and Certified Organisations (Standards
Australia 1996). One thousand companies were chosen randomly from approximately
15,000 which are listed in the register. Individuals who were designated by their companies
as 'Quality Managers' were directly addressed and asked to complete a survey designed to
test the investigative parameters. The survey was based on existing literature on the topic,
and as an original attempt to elicit a portrait of the roles and responsibilities of Quality
Managers from survey responses. A pilot study often companies was initially completed to
refine the survey.
The questionnaire included both quantitative and qualitative components, and focused on
three main topics. First, the managers' background and career history, including educational
qualifications and additional training. Second, their current position and role, including
communication, employee management and quality tools employed (Glassop, 1995). Third,
their perception of rewards and status when compared with other functional managers within
their organisation (Brelin et al. 1994). The managers were also invited to make comments
about the future of the company, quality management and their careers.
Eight per cent of surveys were returned unopened with the comment that the addressee was
no longer with the company. Two hundred and ninety responses were received and collated
which gave a response rate of approximately 31.5%. This is a good response rate given the
large sample size and complexity of the questionnaire.
Of those responding:

12% of companies were 'small' with employee numbers less than 20, 74% were
'medium' sized with employees numbering between 21 and 500, and 14% were 'large'
organisations with over 500 employees;

there was a wide spread of industry representation but they could be classified as 57%
'manufacturing' based and 43% being 'service' related.

67% had undergone major change in the past two years;

68% had Australia as principal ownership;

From the additional data which was collated and analysed, it became evident that a
'typical' Quality Manager has a complex role with diverse responsibilities.

BACKGROUND AND CAREER fflSTORY


The age of the survey group ranged from 21 to 64 (Table 1) and 82% were male. The female
Quality Managers were all positioned in the services sector, and none in manufacturing.
Table 1: Age of respondents
Age (years)
No. of Responses

20-29

. 30-39 *

40-49

50-59

12%

29%

30%

24%

60-69 .
5%

Only 16% of respondents had not completed studies subsequent to secondary schooling, and
most (57%) had University exposure (Table 2).
Table 2 : Highest formal level of education of respondents
Level of
Year 10 ~ Year 11 Year 12
Education "
No. of
Responses

6%

3%

7%

TAPE

Undergraduate

Postgraduate
(University)

27%

30%

27%

If post secondary education was attempted, and subsequent courses completed, those taken
were as follows:
TAPE - 34% of responses completed Engineering, 29% Commerce/Management related
courses, 17% specified Fitter and Turner/Technician whereas only 9% cited Quality
Management;
Undergraduate - 40% completed a Science degree, 28% an Engineering degree, 18% a
Commerce degree and 13% completed an Arts degree;
Postgraduate - 38% of responses completed a Commerce/Management course, 17%
Science, 12% Engineering but only 10% a Quality Management course.
The respondents were asked about training and educational courses provided in the past four
years. The most common form of external providers for training and education was specified
as QAS at 24% (Table 3). The question was structured as open ended and the replies varied.
Hence where they cited 'Australian Organisation for Quality' and 'Specialist Quality
Courses', it is most likely they meant QAS or AQC. To be more clear as to the breakdown
the vague headings of these categories will have to be clarified. What is of interest,
nevertheless, is that 39% are offered by our traditional educational providers, that is TAPE
and University. AIM and NATA may also be itemised under Professional and Trade Bodies,
Table 3: External providers of training/education courses completed in the past 4 years
- '-'ik '- . ^'''^l -ii

I P r o v i d e r ^ : , -?;," .., ,.'(:', ];],.'


\-%' ^IC^V^W f\^*
'
TAPE
20 Professional and Trade Bodies

University
Aust. Quality Council

19

Specialist Quality Courses

13 NATA

%.:

11
11
3

Aust. Organisation for Quality

AIM

3.5

External Auditors/Consultants

11

Other

QAS

24

Table 4 identifies internal providers coming from the Human Resource Department and
consultants (54%). Once again, the term 'consultants' need further elaboration in the context
of internal provider and could be a study in itself Occupational Health and Safety has a
relatively high response rate and this area of interest recurs throughout the survey.
Table 4: Internal providers of courses taken in the past 4 years:
%

Provider^- ,

%:

25

Systems/Computer Dept.

14

29 Occupational Health and Safety

18

V " ' / ! ; Provider Human Resources Dept.


Consultants
Internal Auditor

Other

Forty-eight per cent were members of a Professional Association and of those, 32% were
Engineering based whereas 24% were Quality oriented (ie. 34 respondents out of 290).
Table 5: Membership of Professional Associations
Associations

Associations

Engineering

32

Quality

24

Accounting

Science

11

AIM

11

Education

HRM

Other

16

Nearly half (46%) have been employed with the company for six years or less, where 83%) of
those have held the position of Quality Manager for five years or less (Tables 6 & 7). This
appears contrary to the perception that Quality Managers evolved with the organisation and
were appointed based on their seniority (Glassop 1995). Further investigations are ongoing
involving statistical analysis to identify relationships between the responses.
Table 6: Length of employment with current company
Years

lr6

No. of Responses

, 7-n..
29%

46%

.13^18 :' ' 19-24 \ , 25-30


12%

6%

; 31-41

4%

4%

Table 7: Length of time in current position as Quality Manager


Years

. 'I ['--i'-^-

No. of Responses

'' ';;:-''%'

}-&^/''M-'.'y:

83%

-':flf'}&d%>?^^(ti: ^W^m:im:-]-^''-\'^,
16%

1%

Also it is a suprise that only 17% had a background of Production/Operations Management.


Literature suggests that the response rate should be much higher (Muhlemann et al 1992) yet
the background of Australian Quality Managers is quite diverse (Table 8). General
Management could include a variety of these functions and is also an area for further
clarification.

Table 8: Functions, other than Quality, worked during career


.^Functional Are0'

;:;

FmctipnalAreq

. 'bf:r.

;..p: .

Production/Operations

17

Purchasing

Finance

Research & Development

Costing

Management Services

Marketing

General Management

13

Sales

Design

Warehousing

Other

Personnel/HRM

CURRENT POSITION
Quality Managers are very busy people. Twenty-six per cent have no assistance (Table 9)
yet as Table 10 suggests they often have more responsibilities other than quality. Seventynine per cent are responsible for other functional areas with Human Resource orientated
functions being the majority (24%).
Table 9: Number of people directly responsible to the Quality Manager
No of Employees

^'b^p- :

No. of Responses

26%

-i-s,.':-

44%

< 6-10 V 11-20


14%
9%

2lM

Hl-60

}>60

4%

1%

1%

Table 10: Management responsibilities other than quality


' tv'

"^lenctiomlAreasi.,': ::r # ;

Fwi(^ianalxAreastH^ - j;:%^^-,.-

Accountant/Financial Controller

Customer Service

Sales/Marketing

CEO/Senior Management

16

IT/Systems/Technical/Production

20

Other

18

HRM/OH&S/Training/IR

24

With regard to the budget responsibilities, 54% have a separate budget for their department
but of this only 67% of the respondents had control over it. When respondents were asked to
compare their position with managers in other functional departments, they ranked their
income, benefits, social interaction, job security, status/recognition to be comparable with
other positions. They did suggest, however, that their work variety, work importance and
workload were far greater than other functional areas (Table 11).

Table 11: Perception of quality management position compared to other functional


units
\ Less I

;.;.''. A . ;

Income

8%

9%

25%

37%

11%

6%

4%

Benefits

6%

8%

15%

50%

9%

7%

5%

Social Interaction

4%

4%

14%

39%

18%

17%

4%

Job Security

4%

7%

12%

47%

16%

10%

4%

Status/Recognition

5%

11%

25%

30%

13%

13%

4%

Work Variety

1%

4%

6%

24%

22%

28%

15%

Work Importance

4%

3%

12%

37%

19%

19%

7%

Workload

4%

3%

12%

37%

19%

19%

7%

Simlar

,-y- . '

'

"

' - " ' ' .

Greater

Although 87% stated they had a formal job description, when they were asked to specify
their role and responsibilities as Quality Managers, only 51% ranked Quality related
functions as being most important. Their responses and priorities were varied and the
explanation for this will be investigated in subsequent case studies.

Table 12: Role and Responsibilities of Quality Managers as perceived by the


respondents
(in percentages):
4: -',

: '''''"

^'''','^ '

.'^'V'/ /'7^"/;!.'!5-'" "Mq^v

V'2%f

.-i.-'.'./L-

ji-i

v: 'Z--:-;s^y

w {?

' Ijedst

Improving Procedures & Work


Instructions

<i

Monitoring Procedures, Results &


Performance

30

24

20

Maintaining Accreditation &


Certification

17

14

<i

<1

Conducting self assessment


Conducting staff feedback/internal audits

<i

Providing advice on quality issues

<1

<1

<1

<1

<i

Customer Liaison

OH&S and/or EPA

<1

Sales & Marketing

Accounting

<1

Other

24

11

10

Liaising with external quality


associations

HRM and/or Training

not mentioned at this ranking

Most communication within the organisation is done via staff and supervisory meetings
(37%) although respondents identified the use of more than one method (Table 13).
Table 13: Communication methods used
; ; . : ' ' . '

;-'

:. " ' , ; - . ' M e f A b < 3 f e '

.*'

'W^r.

Staff/supervisory meetings

'^M^iiic^'/y

'':>: .';

'/>;;;Mr.

37

Telephone/fax

Personal/direct contact

12.5

Noticeboard

Newsletter

13

Reports

Memo

13

Other

Email

14

Only 40% of respondents run employee surveys whereas 64% are responsible for employees
training needs. How then would Quality Managers who do not conduct employee surveys
know what training needs are required? The diverse demands on their expertise is evident
when observing the types of training programs. Only 25%i were to do with quality
procedures. The balance appeared to be more Human Resource Management focused (Table
14), namely skills, employee development, safety and induction training.
Table 14: Training programs
-K '- -i '.r.,'->. Programsi:
',

# ^ # ^

Progrcmtsi : ., , > ..- , I-,. .%

Skills/specific task courses

23

Computer training

Employee development

Induction training

19

Safety

11

Technical

Quality procedures

25

Other

Only 33% of respondents were responsible for customer surveys, including suppliers. This
appears to be inconsistent with the fundamental philosophy of Quality Management. Where
there are customer surveys, 31% were conducted within 6 months and 52% were between 7
and 12 months.
The quality tools utilised appears to be predominantly control charts, brainstorming or
Parento analysis (Table 15). Once again, this was an open ended question and respondents
were invited to indicate what method/s they used. It is apparent that these respondents were
not fully conversant or proficient in the quality tools available.

Table 15: Quality tools utilised


V

fQuMy^OQl'^'
Control charts

i:%
15

Brainstorming

'^QiMii^ool^'?'y:'l':.

'--}'

'J. ;:;%

Statistical analysis

20

Run charts

Parento analysis

10

Process improvement groups

Cause and effect

System audits

Multinoting

<1

Employee and customer feedback

Matrix

Fishbone diagram

Scatter diagrams and histograms

Flow charts

Testing

External consultant

Probability plots/trend analysis

Benchmarking

Team dynamics

<1

Other

3.5

Most satisfying for respondents was improving quality and efficiency


Product/process development and people interaction also rated well (Table 16).

(25%).

Table 16: Aspects of work which give most satisfaction:


Aspect

.-. -:^

y}

',%l

Aspect

',

; .,

' , - ':. ,..,/<- -:..

. %:

Product/process
development

17

Providing support/advice

Staff input/development

Profitability/completing projects

Improving quality/efficiency

25

Variety in work

People interaction/feedback

14

Other

13

Documentation and procedural writing was least satisfying (39%) but respondents remarked
on the negative attitude of employees to quality and lack of senior management support as
areas which gave them the least satisfaction (Table 17).
Table 17: Aspects of work which give least satisfaction
Aspect

: ': ,-i.: r-;-; $i-fr ',., .,..-j\;


:m-::

Aspect

%: .

Auditing, writing procedures

15

Workload/lack of recognition

12

Lack of senior management


support

11

Office politics

Employees' attitude to quality

16

Product/system defects

Documentation/bureaucracy

24

Other

11

PERCEPTIONS OF THE FUTURE


When managers were asked about their future, they responded in either the organisational
context or personal career interest. Within the company they could see no further
development for the role of Quality Manager (32%) whereas in the future they would remain
with the company but in another capacity (Table 18).
Table 18: Quality Managers' perceptions of the future
'Position' Future

'Personal'Futtire v

Tied to market perceptions of quality


management

Another role in the


firm

17

Tied to ISO 9000/other quality


certification

Remain at the same


level/same position

Larger job in the future

Move companies

No change

32

Other

Smaller/changing to internal
consultant

19

Unknown

'%

Additional comments identified their concern which concentrated on the increasing


complexity of products and services and the rapid growth in technological support. They felt
that they are not prepared for these changes and once the 'novelty' has faded their position
will be restructured and their situation will be modified to encompass any new and
immediate demands. Where they have modified and adjusted their style of management to
facilitate the quality philosophy, management includes other functional areas which results in
a generally failed creation on ongoing climate conducive to constructive change practices.
CONCLUSION
This research has highlighted a divergence between the assumed roles and responsibilities of
the Australian Quality Manager and the reality experienced by managers in the workplace. It
also indicates that such perceptions and experiences vary across different industries,
organisational sizes and structure therefore making it difficult to define or create a profile of
a 'typical' Quality Manager. Further research needs to be undertaken to clarify the questions
that have arisen as a result of this survey. Five companies will be chosen from the
respondents, and case studies will be developed. Nevertheless these survey findings are
significant for organisations in designing a conducive work environment for Quality
Managers and employees.

REFERENCES
Bounds, G., Yorks, L., Adams, M. and Ranney, G 1994 Total Quality Management. Toward
the Emerging Paradigm. Singapore: McGraw Hill.
Brelin, H., Davenport, K., Jennings, L. and Murphy, P. 1994 Focuses Quality. Managing for
Results. Florida: St Lucie Press.
Clark, F. 1992 "Quality: the new Holy Grail? Reflections of a management developer".
Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 7,1. 6.
D'Netto, B., Sohal, A. and Trevillyan, J. 1996 Education, career progression, job content
and reward perceptions of production and operation managers in Australia A study of
Australian Organisations Monash University.
Glassop, L. 1995 The Road to Quality. Competitive Edge Management Series, AIM,
Australia: Prentice Hall.
Jeffrey, J. 1992 "Making Quality Managers: Redefining Management's Role", Quality. Vol.
31,Iss. 5, May.
Muhlemann, A., Qakland, J. and Lockyer, K. 1992 Production and Operations Management.
6th edition. Pitman, London.
Standards Australia, 1996 The JAS-ANZ Register of Accredited and Certified Organisations
May 1996. Melbourne : Standards Australia.

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