ISO 9001:2015 Conflict of Interest Question
Amanda Foster
657 Posts
This question is particularly aimed toward ISO 9001:2015 certification auditors, but all input is welcome.

For a small manufacturing company (approx 25 employees) with a quality department of 1, is it a conflict of interest for that person to also be production manager?
6 Replies
Luigi Sille
110 Posts
It does not have to be conflict of interest.

The problem is that the same person has to check his or her own work. This can be a huge problem. 
-Errors can go unnoticed.
-Chances to improve the process, products will be almost gone

Amanda Foster
657 Posts
Luigi Sille‍, so, you think it's not a conflict of interest for the person who drives the production floor and the only inspector to be the same person? 

It seems to me as though there could be times that quality suffers in order to meet the production schedule in this scenario. I really don't know for certain, though, which is why I posed the question here.
Duke Okes
125 Posts
There are almost always potential conflicts of interest, even if the roles are separated.  However, one way to look at it is to think of an even smaller organization, say 5 people.  No way can all roles be assigned to different individuals.

So I would consider things such as:
- What industry is it (e.g., if high risk, such as medical devices, then it's likely a problem; if not high risk, less so)
- Is there only the quality/production manager, or is there someone else with a quality title.  If the latter then give that person a dotted line reporting relationship to the top person (e.g., general manager)
- Are there clear policies/guidelines that can help an individual who has multiple roles know what priorities/actions are/not appropriate?
- If the company is ISO 9001 registered then the audit function can help assess whether the conflict if interest is creating problems (e.g., look at organizational objectives/performance metrics and whether actions are being taken that do not support them

Of course whoever the production manager reports to is ultimately responsible for ensuring that any conflicts are resolved/addressed.
Joe Wojniak
90 Posts
Awareness that there might be a conflict of interest is the first step.  The audit function can help by reviewing past scenarios to determine if the actions taken were appropriate.  Presented with this information, the Production/Quality Manager has an opportunity to acknowledge any limitations.  Recognizing that this would take a remarkably mature person on the part of the Production/Quality Manager's to avoid denying any problems that may have occurred.  At times, it may help if the Production/Quality Manager interacts with customers, thereby making a personal commitment to delivering customer value as a result of forming customer relationships.
Hi Amanda,

Speaking from experience of being in that same situation, where I am the only auditor and also the process champion for the process being audited.  I  have been challenged on this and my advice to you is, remember which hat you are wearing.  Audit strictly to the standard and customer-specific requirements.  It is strictly black or white, either you meet the requirement or you don't.  Depending on the risk of the finding and the level of nonconformance you can then make it a major or a minor.  The only difference between the two is the amount of effort needed to get things back on track.  You have a rare opportunity to make a difference, instead of the normal goal of parts produced, the goal should be quality parts produced.  The time, resources and effort that it takes when issues occur is often more costly than if the issue had been resolved in-house.  I have written myself up, so to speak, and then involved the entire to team to implement actions to address.  The finding has to be objective and the action plan has to objective and a decision by the team that runs the plant.  Hope this helps.
Hi Amanda.

I was Plant Manager and always was pushing Production Manager to produce parts and inspect them with high confidence.
(We had a General Motors production line (12 production operators) working with a rate of 1,200 parts per day and they won 5 consecutive GM Supplier Quality Awards (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018)

This based on the fact we implemented Built in Quality System (Quality at Source)

So, I don't see any conflict of interest production to be producing and inspecting at same time.

At the end of the day, Production need to meet KPI's (Key Performance Indicators) as external complaints, scrap, rework etc.

Hope this help a little bit