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My company, whom I've been with for 15 yrs., gave me the opportunity (?) to become a CWI at their expence (?). This also led to my becoming the QA Manager so the company could become AISC certified. Did I mention that to become a technical writter takes a few months of training? Not to mention that I have not been able to become assured and knowlable as an inspector. One year later the battle still rages on. The explanition was given, "The company would not have chosen you if we didn"t believe you could do it." Excuse me, but quality management begins at the top of the ladder, and I have had no input from that direction except for the Chief Operations Officer. This post is to let others know, that when you are given the opportunity to get a position or educational improvement, take it, but determine what else is required and how much is to be expected. I am 52 years old, and never saw it comming.
I've been with my company 19 years now and found myself in the same position several years ago. I was in training for the QA/QC Manager's job because his health was diminishing. I already had passed the CWI exam and was a Level II in UT, MT, and PT a while before this opportunity. Before I felt comfortable taking on this huge responsibilty, the Manager that was training me for his job at a later date, suddenly fell ill and was hositalized. I kept in touch with him and carried on his duties while he was in the hospital. He never was able to return to work and later passed away. So, I was stuck in your position learning as I went. It's a hard road, but I think the lessons learned have stuck. Anyway after you get called on a few things you learn pretty quick to try and cover your hind parts better. I sympothize with you, because I've been there and I'm sure there are others that have been thrown in like we were too. Sink or Swim, and you'll learn to swim or else.
Sounds like you're having a tough time of it without much encouragement. Take heart in knowing that you are not alone. All too often QA/QC is viewed as a "necessary evil" (I'm quoting a superintendent I know here). Those of us in this profession know all too well that most people won't listen to how they can meet the code more easily. They perk right up when they hear the word 'rejected' though and tend to blame the inspector for finding the problem rather than themselves for causing it.
A year is not a lot of time to cover all that you described- you have done well. One of the biggest problems that I face is that no one seems to know what an inspector or QA Manager actually does. Did you ever find that you were left 'out-of-the-loop', because people just didn't realize that you would have been able to help?
You are right that quality management starts at the top. But so does estimating, job planning, personnel issues, bill collecting, OSHA compliance, and many other aspects of doing business. That's why you got the job - to help your superiors organize the quality aspects of doing business. Because all the other things are important too and take up the lion's share of available time, leaving little time for them to focus on quality.
I know all that doesn't help much, but it helps to realize you can make your job into whatever you want it to be. Just set your focus, decide how you are going to get where you want to go, and how to get other people to help you whether they know they are helping or not.
The biggest danger I face career wise, is that I am used to doing everything by myself - because others don't have time or don't understand what is needed. It becomes all too easy to take on too much and no one will ever know that is happening. You have to keep people involved in what you do, even if you are the only one who wants that to happen.
That doesn't mean you have to train more help for QA/QC, (although that doesn't hurt). What it does mean is that you need to educate others in how their job affects quality. By thinking 'upstream' a bit and applying what you know, your job should get easier.
I'm not trying to preach here. Just before I read your post I was feeling a bit like you are. This just helped me remember my focus. Remember that it takes 5 miles to turn a supertanker after the rudder is set.
You hit the nail on the head when you said other management don't have a clue as to how much we are involved in and what it takes to try and cover some of the "most important" bases. They seem to frown and ask why do you work so many hours? I can explain where every minute goes and they still look dumbfounded and confused. Trying to explain why certain things are necessary and mandatory is hard, until the company gets a fine from OSHA or AISC Certs are threatened, or the like, then it seems crystal clear to them as how important these things are. And you have given myself and others good advise and I appreciate your efforts in helping turn that huge ship that needs to change direction.
Inspector362, I got caught the same way a few years back.
Only advise I can give you is; "Take the bull by the horns and run with it". I got a tremendous amount of help right here on this board and I am sure you will also.
Your managers surely do want quality but ther point of view is a lot different from yours and not even as close to detailed. In other words they know what they need but they don't know what it looks like and they have chosen you to provide it. The challenge is putting it in a package they can deal with.
Don't bore them with details unless they ask, give them gains and losses or percentages.
I adapted the policy that, I could do what ever I felt needed to be done until I was told other wise.
You need a Tech writer? Convince them of the advantages in production increases or cost savings.
And most of all don't be bashful about asking for help and advise here, thats what this Forum is all about.
You can click on most any ones handle and confer privately also.
I do appreciate all of the response this post has recieved. I have been looking for educational resources and there are a ton of them on the internet (e-learning, distance learning), not so many here in community colleges (Orlando). Think I'll choose one (about 6 mo. to a year) with CEU's. These Quality Manuals are a bear and I will need all the help (if not from within the company) I can assimilate. Come to think of it, I'll look for QA manager training while there. Any more ideas, send them on.
Billy, it sounds like you're on the right track. If you don't already, I would absolutely make sure to be 150% fluent in all of the codes and standards your company deals with (including those referenced within the codes and standards). I'm also pretty sure AISC has QA Program requirements you can probably use to either model or evaluate your own program to. Good luck!
The AISC will audit you yearly to evaluate your progress. That's when you can quiz the auditor for things you might have doubts about. Every 3 years they give the "full audit".
Well, you have the toughest job in the shop. I think you are going to be fine. You are doing the right things, hang in there. They chose you for a reason; many times that reason is in the "big picture" and we are lucky that we fit.
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