Top Management is defined as the person or group of people who directs and controls an organization at the highest level (within the scope of the quality management system). Top Management has the power to delegate authority and provide resources within the organization. Top management must ensure that the responsibilities and authorities for relevant roles are assigned, communicated, and understood within the organization. The top management must primarily take accountability for the effectiveness of the QMS and understand that its success or failure depends on them. Defining the Quality Policy and objectives is a task that cannot be fulfilled without the engagement of the top management, as both the policy and the objectives must be aligned with the context and strategic direction of the organization. The QMS must be integrated with the business processes of the organization, and this is also a responsibility of the top management. The provision of resources for QMS operation is also part of the top management responsibilities, as, without the appropriate resources, the QMS cannot work. Promoting the use of the process approach and risk-based thinking, along with communicating the importance of the effectiveness of the QMS and compliance with the requirements. Engaging, directing, and supporting personnel to contribute to the effectiveness of the QMS, and supporting other management roles to demonstrate leadership in their areas of responsibility. Defining the corporate responsibility policy, which needs to include an anti-bribery policy, the employees’ code of conduct, and an ethics escalation policy (whistle-blowing policy). Identifying process owners who will be in charge of managing the processes and related outputs. Conducting management reviews in order to assess the condition and performance of the QMS and define necessary actions for improvement.
In addition to the roles and responsibilities that the top management must take, the top management must assign to the mid-management and other employees within the organization:
- Conformity of the QMS to the requirements of the standard – one or more persons in the organization needs to be responsible for the overall conformity to the standard.
- Process effectiveness – the top management must assign responsibilities to ensure that the processes are delivering the intended outcomes; this is in close relation with the requirement to assign process owners.
- Reporting on QMS performance – some person within the organization must be in charge of reporting to the top management on the performance of the QMS and opportunities for improvement.
- Ensuring the QMS integrity during maintenance and changes in the system – this person will have to be responsible for ensuring that compliance with the standard and other requirements is preserved during maintenance or changes made to the QMS.
- Compliance with customer requirements – considering the importance of the customer requirements in an IATF 16949-based QMS, it is no wonder that the standard requires the top management to assign responsibility for ensuring and documenting customer requirements.
- Stopping the production and shipment in case of nonconformity – the top management must assign authority to relevant people to stop the production or prevent the shipment of non-conforming products to the customers.
- Responsibility for corrective actions – the persons with this authority must be informed about any nonconformity regarding products or processes, so they can prevent the shipment of nonconforming or potentially nonconforming products to the customers.
- Conformity to product requirements – the top management must ensure that all processes and shifts include adequate personnel who are in charge of the product’s conformity to the requirements.
A good audit system is also imperative. At any time an audit report is carried out, a number of variables have to be investigated in order to permit certification. This is the reason that it’s crucial to select a really good provider of an audit management system. The efficiency of an audit investigation is significant to an operation’s longevity. Thus, ensure that each audit investigation is undertaken as professionally as it can be.
5.3 Organizational Roles, Responsibilities, and Authorities
Top management must ensure that the responsibilities and authorities for relevant roles are assigned, communicated, and understood within the organization. Top Management must assign the responsibility and authority to ensure that the system conforms to the requirements of ISO 9001 and that the processes are delivering their intended outputs. Top Management must assign the responsibility and authority for a report on the performance of the system, on opportunities for improvement, and on the need for change or innovation, and especially for reporting to top management. Top Management must assign the responsibility and authority to ensure the promotion of customer focus throughout the organization and ensure that integrity of system is maintained when changes to system are planned and implemented.
5.3.1 Organizational roles, responsibilities, and authorities – supplemental
Top management shall assign personnel with the responsibility and authority to ensure that customer requirement are met. These assignments shall be documented. This includes but is not limited to the selection of special characteristics, setting quality objectives and related training, corrective and preventive actions, product design and development, capacity analysis, logistics information, customer scorecards, and customer portals.
5.3.2 Responsibility and authority for product requirements and corrective actions
Top management must ensure that personnel responsible for conformity to product requirements have the authority to stop shipment and stop production to correct quality problems. In case it is not possible to stop the production immediately due to process design the affected batch must be contained and shipment to the customer prevented. Personnel with authority and responsibility for corrective action should be promptly informed of products or processes that do not conform to requirements to make sure that nonconforming products are not shipped to the customer and that all potential nonconforming product is identified and contained. Production operations across all shifts should have personnel in charge of, or delegated responsibility for, ensuring conformity to product requirements.
Top management must establish the organization necessary to deploy the QMS. It must define the structure, hierarchy and lines of reporting. Additionally perhaps, through the assistance of the Human Resources function, it must ensure that the duties, responsibilities and authority of all personnel are defined and communicated. All personnel must be clear on their duties, responsibilities and authority in meeting customer and regulatory requirements. Organization charts, job descriptions, procedures, work instructions, etc, are some of the many ways that top management may use to define and document this. These must be communicated and deployed, as applicable, throughout the organization. Orientation packages, appointment postings, sign-off on job descriptions, training on procedures and work instructions, etc, are some of the many ways in accomplishing this. The organization structure and lines of reporting; responsibility and authority of managerial functions and departments may be established by top management (business planning) and the responsibilities and authorities for the rest of the organization may be established by the HR function working with various process owners. Again, this would depend on the size, complexity and culture of the organization. The communication process must ensure timely reporting of serious product or process to higher-level staff with authority and responsibility for decision making and provision of resources for taking corrective action. When product or process problems occur, the process for handling nonconformities must include a review of what actions, decisions, responsibilities, timing, etc, were involved in causing the problem to arise. Accountability across all shifts, for the actions taken as a result, should be reviewed. The Control Plan must also be reviewed in terms of its effectiveness or inability to prevent nonconformity. The responsibilities, authority, rules and conditions under which production is stopped to correct quality problems must be carefully defined. Contingency planning to minimize delivery disruptions to customers must be taken into consideration. Ensure that any staff delegated with responsibility for product quality is adequately trained and is available on site or if off-site, is quickly available or accessible to verify product quality. The objective here is not to disrupt shift operations or cause shipping delays by creating a backlog of the product requiring inspection for the next shift. The performance indicators for the business planning, HR process and QMS processes may be used to determine the effectiveness of planning and managing the organizational structure, responsibilities and authorities. IATF 16949 focuses heavily on meeting customer and regulatory requirements and enhancing customer satisfaction. The MR must likewise promote this focus through all processes that are directly and even indirectly involved in achieving this. There are many ways of doing this including the use of training, cross-functional teams, customer-focused project teams, project milestone reviews, designated customer representative, electronic interfaces with the customer, use of PPAP, FMEA’s, Control Plans, customer specifications, customer product-specific work instructions, etc. The designated customer representative and their specific responsibilities must be clearly defined. They must ensure that customer requirements are fully understood and addressed. A good way to address this, is for the customer representative to participate in the entire APQP (Advanced Product Quality Planning) process. Review specific requirements for the customer representative at OEM customer or IATF websites. The effective fulfillment of the customer representative’s responsibilities may be demonstrated by their participation in milestone and decision points related to production release ie engineering release and other related activities linked to customer requirements.
Responsibility and authority
The requirements on responsibility and authority are in two parts: one general and the other relating to people with particular roles
Identifying Process that affects the quality
The responsibility, authority, and interrelation of personnel who manage, perform and verify Processes affecting quality is to be deﬁned and documented. The key to this requirement is determining what affects quality; i.e. if you can identify any Processes that does not affect quality, you are not obliged to deﬁne in your quality system the responsibilities and authority of those who manage, perform, or verify it. In principle, every process affects the quality of the products and services supplied by the organization, some directly, others indirectly. The process can be divided into result-producing, support, and housekeeping activities. All are essential to the business but only the result-producing and support activities affect the quality of the products and services supplied. The result-producing activities are those which directly bring in revenue and which contribute to results, such as sales, marketing, development, manufacture, and maintenance. The support activities are usually those which set standards, create the vision, produce information needed by the result-producers, provide teaching, training, and advice, such as research, computer services, quality assurance, training, and personnel. Housekeeping activities are those which do not contribute to results but their malfunction could harm the business, such as health and safety, security, catering, travel, medical, general maintenance, etc.
Apart from result-producing activities, there are several other activities that could affect quality:
- A failure to observe government health and safety regulations could close a factory for a period and hence result in late delivery to customers.
- Health and safety hazards could result in injury or illness, place key personnel out of action for a period, and hence result in work not being done or being done by personnel who are not competent.
- A failure to take adequate personnel safety precautions may put the product at risk.
- A failure to safely dispose of hazardous materials and observe ﬁre precautions could put the plant at risk.
If there are personnel involved with the identiﬁcation, interpretation, promulgation, and verification of such regulations then their responsibilities and authority will need to be deﬁned in the quality system.
What is “responsibility and authority”?
Responsibility is in simple terms an area in which one is entitled to act on one’s own accord. It is the obligation of staff to their managers for performing the duties of their jobs. It is thus the obligation of a person to achieve the desired conditions for which they are accountable to their managers. If you caused something to happen, you must be responsible for the result just as you would if you caused an accident — so to determine a person’s responsibility, ask “What can you cause to happen?”
Authority is in simple terms the right to take actions and make decisions. In the management context, it constitutes a form of inﬂuence and a right to take action, to direct and coordinate the actions of others, and to use discretion in the position occupied by an individual, rather than in the individual themselves. The delegation of authority permits decisions to be made more rapidly by those who are in more direct contact with the problem.
It is necessary for management to deﬁne who should do what in order that the designated work is assigned to someone to carry out. It is not cost-effective to have duplicate responsibilities or gaps in responsibility as this leads to conflict or tasks being overlooked. A person’s job can be divided into two components: actions and decisions. Responsibilities and authority should therefore be described in terms of the actions assigned to an individual to perform and discretion delegated to an individual: that is, the decisions they are permitted to take along with the freedom they are permitted to exercise. Each job should therefore have core responsibilities, which provide a degree of predictability, and innovative responsibilities, which in turn provide the individual with scope for development. In defining responsibilities and authority there are some simple rules that you should follow:
- Through the process of delegation, authority is passed down within the organization and divided among subordinate personnel, whereas responsibility passes upwards.
- A manager may assign responsibilities to a subordinate and delegate authority, however, they remain responsible for the subordinate’s use of that authority.
- When managers delegate responsibility for something, they remain responsible for it. When managers delegate authority they lose the right to make the decisions they have delegated but remain responsible and accountable for the way such authority is used. Accountability is one’s control over the authority one has delegated to one’s staff.
- It is considered unreasonable to hold a person responsible for events caused by factors that they are powerless to control.
- Before a person can be in a state of control they must be provided with three things:
- Knowledge of what they are supposed to do: i.e. the requirements of the job, the objectives they are required to achieve.
- Knowledge of what they are doing, provided either from their own senses or from an instrument or another person authorized to provide such data.
- Means of regulating what they are doing in the event of failing to meet the prescribed objectives. These means must always include the authority to regulate and the ability to regulate both by varying the person’s own conduct and by varying the process under the person’s authority. It is in this area that freedom of action and decision should be provided.
- The person given responsibility for achieving certain results must have the right (i.e. the authority) to decide how those results will be achieved, otherwise, the responsibility for the results rests with those who stipulate the course of action.
- Individuals can rightfully exercise only that authority which is delegated to them and that authority should be equal to that person’s responsibility (not more or less than it). If people have authority for action without responsibility, it enables them to walk by problems without doing anything about them. Authority is not power itself. It is
quite possible to have one without the other! A person can exert inﬂuence without the right to exert it.
- In the absence of the delegation of authority and assignment of responsibilities, individuals assume duties that may duplicate those duties assumed by others. Thus jobs that are necessary but unattractive will be left undone. It also encourages decisions to be made only by top management, resulting in an increasing management work-load and engendering a feeling of mistrust in the workforce.
Deﬁning responsibilities and authority
The actual documentation of responsibilities within your QMS is as important as the planning and decisions that go into the process. Though there is no specific mention of “documented information” in terms of roles and responsibilities, the standard says that the organization should maintain documented information “determined as being necessary for QMS effectiveness.” Great care must be taken to ensure that, when delivered to an employee, roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, clearly measurable, have a clear definition of time periods relevant to the activities, and are aligned to the capabilities of the employee. When roles and responsibilities are documented so specifically, clear review and action periods can be set. The organization can then readily identify how much progress is being made, maintaining clarity in terms of the responsibility for the delivery of activity important to the QMS. Ensure that your roles and responsibilities are correctly allocated, defined, and documented, and the business of ensuring continual improvement for your QMS will become much more achievable The responsibilities and authority should be documented in addition to being deﬁned, as one can define such things in dialogue with one’s staff without documenting them. This is indeed a common way for staff to discover their responsibilities. Sometimes you may not be aware of the limits of your authority until you overstep the mark. By documenting the responsibility and authority of staff, managers should be able to avoid such surprises.
There are four principal ways in which responsibilities and authority can be documented:
- In an organization structure diagram, or organigram
- In job descriptions
- In terms of reference
- In procedures
The standard does not stipulate which method should be used. In very small companies a lack of such documents deﬁning responsibility and authority may not prove detrimental to quality provided people are made aware of their responsibilities and adequately trained. However, if you are going to rely on training, there has to be some written material which is used so that training is carried out to consistent standards. Organigrams are a useful way of showing interrelationships (see below) but imprecise as a means of deﬁning responsibility and authority. They do illustrate the lines of authority and accountability but only in the chain of command. Although organigrams can deﬁne the area in which one has authority to act, they do not preclude others having responsibilities within the same area; for example, the title “Design Manager — Computer Products” implies the person could be responsible for all aspects of computer product design when in fact they may not have any software, mechanical engineering, or reliability engineering responsibilities. Titles have to be kept brief as they are labels for communication purposes and are not usually intended for precision on the subject of responsibilities and authority. One disadvantage of organigrams is that they do not necessarily show the true relationships between people within the company. Horizontal relationships can be difficult to depict with clarity in a diagram. They should therefore not be used as a substitute for policy.
Job descriptions or job proﬁles are useful in describing what a person is responsible for. However, it rather depends upon the reason for having them as to whether they will be of any use in managing quality. Those produced for job evaluation, recruitment, salary grading, etc. may be of use in the quality system if they specify the objectives people are responsible for achieving and the decisions they are authorized to take. Terms of reference are not job descriptions but descriptions of the boundary conditions. They act as statements that can be referred to in deciding the direction in which one should be going and the constraints on how to get there. They are more like rules than a job description and more suited to a committee than an individual. They rarely cover responsibilities and authority except by default. Procedures are probably the most effective way of defining people’s responsibilities and authority as it is at the level of procedures that one can be specific as to what someone is required to do. Procedures specify individual actions and decisions. By assigning actions or decisions to a particular person you have assigned to them a responsibility or given them certain authority. Procedures do present problems, however, it may be difficult for a person to see clearly what his/her job is by scanning the various procedures because procedures often describe tasks rather than objectives. When writing procedures never use the names of individuals as they will inevitably change. The solution is to use position or role titles and have a description for a particular position or role that covers all the responsibilities assigned through the procedures. Individuals only need to know what positions they occupy or the roles they perform. Their responsibilities and authority are clariﬁed by the procedures and the position or role descriptions.
Within IATF 16949 there are several requirements for an assignment of responsibility. These include but not limited to the responsibility and authority for:
- Deﬁning the quality policy and objectives
- Determining customer satisfaction
- Representing the needs of the customer
- Stopping production to correct quality problems
- Assigning trained personnel
- Appointing the management representative
- Reviewing business plans
- Promoting quality awareness
- Promoting safety awareness
- Conducting the management review
- Quality planning
- Assigning the project manager
- Reporting product realization measurements to management
- Conducting project reviews
- Carrying out FMEA
- Performing process studies
- Performing process design veriﬁcation
- Developing control plans
- Submitting product approval requests
- Accepting contracts
- Reviewing product designs
- Performing product design veriﬁcation and validation
- Reviewing product design changes
- Reviewing and approving documents and changes thereto
- Evaluating and selecting subcontractors Subcontractor assessment
- Reviewing and approving purchasing documents
- Verifying product at subcontractor’s premises
- Reporting lost or unsuitable customer supplied product to customers
- Planning production, installation, and servicing processes
- Verifying job set-ups
- Verifying product
- Performing layout inspection
- Checking comparative references
- Calibrating inspection, measuring, and test equipment
- Notifying customers of nonconforming product shipment
- Reviewing and disposing of nonconforming product
- Obtaining authorization to deviate from customer approved speciﬁcations
- Handling customer complaints
- Investigating the cause of nonconforming product
- Determining corrective and preventive actions
- Receiving product into and dispatching product from storage areas
- Issuing shipment notifications to customers
- Planning, conducting, and reporting on internal quality audits
- Identifying training needs and providing training
- Reviewing training effectiveness
- Reporting that servicing meets requirements
- Identifying the need for statistical techniques
In organizations that undertake projects rather than operate continuous processes or production lines, there is a need to define and document project-related responsibilities and authority. These appointments are often temporary, being only for the duration of the project. Staff are assigned from the line departments to fulﬁll a role for a limited period. To meet the requirement for deﬁned responsibility, authority, and interrelationships for project organizations you will need Project Organization Charts and Project Job Descriptions for each role (such as Project Manager, Project Design Engineer, Project Systems Engineer, and Project Quality Engineer). As project structures are temporary, there needs to be a system in place that controls the interfaces between the line functions and the project team. Such a system would include:
- Policies that govern the allocation of work to projects
- Policies that govern the allocation of work to staff on these projects
- Job descriptions for each role, stating responsibilities, authority, and accountability
- Procedures that identify the roles responsible for each task and for ensuring that information is conveyed to and from these staff at the appropriate time
- Procedures that consolidate information from several disciplines for transmission to the customer when required
- Monitoring procedures to track progress and performance
- Procedures that ensure the participation of all parties in decisions affecting the product and its development and production
- Procedures for setting priorities and securing commitment
- Procedures that include the management of subcontractor programs during development and deal with the transmission of information to and from the subcontractors, what is to be transmitted, by whom, in what form, and with whose approval
Some organizations have assigned responsibility for each element of the standard to a person, but such managers are not thinking clearly. For some elements, the assignment of responsibility may appear possible, as in the case of Design control and Purchasing, but when you come to examine it more closely you will ﬁnd that the task is not so easy. If we look at purchasing we find that it is made up of many actions and decisions, such as deﬁning the technical requirement, evaluating the supplier, choosing the supplier, placing the order, monitoring the supply, inspecting the goods on receipt, etc. No one person other than the CEO is responsible for all of these actions unless it is a small company. The Purchasing Manager may not accept responsibility for errors in the technical specification invoked in the purchase order if he/she did not prepare or approve the technical specification. When auditors ask “Who is responsible for purchasing?” ask them to specify the particular activity they are interested in. Remember you have a system that delegates authority to those qualified to do the job.
Interrelation of personnel
Defining individual responsibilities and authority alone will not define how personnel relates to one another. Interrelation means to place in a mutual relationship, so what is needed is a definition of the relationships between all staff with quality responsibilities. The primary reason for deﬁning interrelationships is to establish channels of communication so that work proceeds smoothly without unplanned interruption. Staff needs to know from whom they will receive their instructions, to whom they are accountable, to whom they should go to seek information to resolve difficulties, and to whom information or product should be submitted when complete. Personnel within a company are related in several ways:
- By position in a reporting hierarchy
- By position in a chain of operations as internal customers and suppliers of information, product, or service
- By position in a salary-grading structure
- By job title, profession, type of work
- By location, i.e. being on the same site but not in the same department, group, or division
In order for personnel to achieve a common objective (product or service quality) they must relate to one another — they must interact. Work passes from one person to another, from one department to another and often this relationship is quite different from the hierarchical relationship of personnel in the company. In order to meet this particular requirement it is, therefore, necessary to:
- Deﬁne the structure of the company, preferably in a diagrammatic form showing each department and section whose work affects quality. (You don’t have to define all parts of the company.)
- Deﬁne the location of work, departments, groups, and divisions.
- Deﬁne the processes that manage, specify, achieve, and control product/service quality and who performs each stage in the process, preferably in the form of flow diagrams.
Action to prevent nonconformity
Initiating action to prevent something is not the same as preventing something from taking place. You can prevent something from happening either by not starting the process or by stopping it before a nonconformity has occurred. The only people who should prevent the occurrence of product or process nonconformity are those in control of the process — those operating the machines, producing the results, doing the work — or those people who manage or supervise such people. It would not be right for anyone not responsible for the process to exert power over it, such as stopping the process or changing the material, the documentation, the instructions, or the personnel. In addition to the managers of the process, the quality auditors should be given the authority to initiate action to prevent nonconformity but if you do this, such authority should override that of those in control of the process. In other words, if the auditor requires some action to be taken to prevent the recurrence of nonconformity, he has to do more than notify those in control of the process, otherwise, such notification could be ignored. The reason for doing this is for ensuring that the requirements of the standard are met. Authority to initiate means authority to cause someone to take action. It does not give the initiator the right to specify what action to take. However, the receiver of the instruction must either obey it or escalate it to higher management. Regarding nonconformities relating to the quality system, anyone should be permitted to request a change to the quality system documentation to prevent the occurrence of nonconformities; however, only a person’s manager should be permitted to issue instructions to his/her staff enforcing compliance with the documented quality system. The Top Management can and should, however, instruct other managers to comply with the agreed policies and practices.
Identifying and recording problems
A problem is a difference between the way things are and the way things ought to be, as perceived by the one identifying it. A problem relating to the product, process, or quality system (or quality problem) is, therefore, a difference between what has been achieved and what is required. The organization must identify the responsibilities and authority who need to identify and record such problems. Any organization should provide an environment that encourages all employees to contribute to the business, but unfortunately, this is not so in many organizations. There may well be some merit in limiting such freedom in order that management is not swamped with ﬁctitious problems. It all comes down to deciding who is in a position to be able to tell whether a situation is a problem and whether it affects quality. Certainly, managers and professional staff should be free to identify problems because they should have the knowledge to report only problems that can be resolved. To provide staff with the necessary freedom you will need one or more problem-reporting procedures and some policies that give staff the freedom to identify, record, and report problems relating to the product, process, and quality system.
Initiating or providing solutions
Managers of the functions concerned should have the authority to initiate solutions to problems arising in their areas of responsibility. Experts and other personnel used in an advisory capacity should also be given authority to make recommendations and provide solutions. However, you may wish to limit such powers. You will not want just anyone to inﬂuence those resolving the problems. Those not qualified to give advice on certain subjects should not have the authority to do so. There have been many cases where a person has taken unqualiﬁed advice to ﬁnd that they should not have done so. Hence the requirement that solutions be provided through designated channels. You will therefore need some policy to ensure that the credentials of those giving advice are checked before the advice is accepted. Likewise, there should be a policy that ensures staff takes the advice given by qualified personnel unless they can justify otherwise. There is no point in an organization employing experts and then allowing their advice to be ignored. If the experts are no good it is better to replace them!
Verifying the implementation of solutions
The person resolving the problem should be the person who caused it or, if this is not possible or appropriate, it should be the person responsible for the result. This person should also verify that they have implemented the solution correctly, but there may be a need for others to verify that the solution resolves the problem; for example, the person detecting the problem may be a customer. Quite often the solution implemented may not, in fact, resolve the original problem. This could be due to poor communication or to politics. In addition, the designer of the solution may decide to take the opportunity to change things that were perhaps not perfect but found them less costly to change in conjunction with other changes. Where such changes may result in the problem not being solved, it becomes more important that the verification be carried out by someone other than the designer. You will need to define who has the authority to verify certain types of solutions, such as new products, design changes, policy changes, planning changes, procedures changes, or process changes. They may be the same people who verified the original designs, plans, procedures, etc. but could be different if you have product support, maintenance, or post—design organization.
Control of nonconforming product
There are three separate requirements here. Control of further processing involves stopping the process and, as explained previously, should be carried out only by those responsible for the process. Controlling further delivery is somewhat different, as the authority to deliver may not be vested in the same person who performed the processing. Delivery decisions are more than decisions about conformance to specification. They are about conformance to contract and those responsible for the production processes may not be able to determine whether contractual conditions have been met. Much more may hang on the resolution of a problem than mere conformance to specification. The decision in some circumstances may be taken by the CEO. There may have been a safety problem or a product liability problem so your system needs to recognize these fine distinctions. Those making the delivery decisions need possession of all the information required to protect the company as well as meet customer needs. Installation decisions are similar to process decisions and the decision to start or stop further installation work should rest with those responsible for installation. If the materials have not been delivered they cannot be installed, so the key decision, in this case, is the delivery decision.
Meeting customer requirement (Customer representative)
The organization must ensure that appropriate individuals be assigned to represent the needs of the customer in internal functions. Each customer may have slightly different requirements, many of them often have no impact on product quality but on the presentation of information. If you characterize products and processes too closely to specific customer requirements, you run the risk of introducing inefficiencies and reducing productivity. You can, however, maintain productivity and respond to your customer’s varying demands through an interface function. Appointing a person as your customer liaison representative provides an opportunity to develop someone in your organization who knows as much about what the customers need and why it is needed as the customers themselves. This person is then able to translate specific customer requirements into your language and back again. So rather than change all your processes to suit all your customers, translate customer requirements onto your own paperwork and use this throughout the process. At the end of the chain of processes, NAATI translation uses to your paperwork onto customer forms and supply these to your customer. Where a customer wants something that others have not yet demanded, consider the overall benefits, and if it does provide added value change your processes. If not, find a compromise that is mutually beneﬁcial. The appointed customer representative will need to spend some time with the customer to learn their ways and understand their language, needs, and expectations. Hence if your staff speaks English and you do business with Chinese companies you may need people who can speak Chinese and who are familiar with the appropriate subject vocabulary. Beware, however, that in appointing such a person you choose wisely. It also has to be someone you can trust to represent your interests. You will need a means of calibrating this person so that he/she does not get carried away with enthusiasm and start to impose requirements that are no more than personal likes and dislikes.
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