QC Dark Magic

I learnt that Puat was one of the directors in the holding company on his last day here. That explained the 'number of QC managers under his charge' part. Over the week, Puat had been helpful in spoonfeeding us in implementing our formal QA/QC system. Like all companies gearing up for ISO certification, the paper work was always the lacking area. That was where exactly Puat came useful.

"Magic," he always said, referring to backdated documentation.

"Ali-baba lah," I returned.

With very limited staff count in my company, naturally I had to be involved heavily in QA/QC matters. All three of us had to be QC managers, there was no escape. Only the boss here could siam. Well, I didn't have a problem with a proper system in place. I would not dream of having zero mistakes here at the moment. If the new system helped in reducing them, hopefully significantly, it would be well worth the trouble to implement these.

Being a small company, we found it hard to compete on pricing. The big boys imported large amount of material and enjoyed a wider economy of scale. Moreover they imported steel from China, something we couldn't do at the moment due to space constraints. Our competitive edge over the big boys was reacting much faster to any of them. That was why we were getting a lot of 'I'll pay any price if you can do this for us' jobs where the lead time to deliver was way shorter than industry practices. Big boys weren't going to stop their machines to specially produce queue jumping orders, especially if the orders weren't big enough to excite them.

Grabbing the small jobs from desperate clients was important. Over time, people in the industry would remember how you once saved their asses. It was probably the only way for us to penetrate. When I first joined, I noticed how often we were making mistakes. According to the office manager, the count was already considered on the low side of the industry. Immediately I pushed out for finished work to be delivered as soon as possible, rather than closer to their due dates. The office girl always gave me the dirty looks whenever I pushed her for the release documents for the deliveries. Occasionally, we had orders that were due months later. She could not understand why we had to send them out so early. 

The logic was simple. The longer we stored items, the less their value. The earlier we delivered, we earlier we could collect our dues. The longer we stored items, the most inventory costs. Though we were never truly at maximum storage capacity yet, we had to practise these principles when we could and not only when we were crunched. Also, going by how disorganised we seemed to be, the longer we kept things here, the more likely we would misplace them. By delivering early, we also bought ourselves precious time to do rectifications should we make a mistake in our work. All in all, what didn't make sense to the girl made perfect sense to me. When people went by gut-feel, preferences or pure laziness, I got my way by giving proper justifications. They had already seen the benefits of doing this by now. We enjoyed short periods of lull because we cleared our work the best we could, instead of pacing ourselves by schedule. If any emergencies came during lull periods, that was where we could shine among our competitors and we did for a few times by now.

After the interim audit, Puat told me our ISO certification was 70% in the bag. We should be alright if we kept doing things we were. After the actual audit in January, we would finally be certified. Puat's timely dark magic was fully appreciated by the team. We decided to throw in a BBQ (what else?) for him before he headed for the airport this afternoon.

1 comment:

  1. "saved their asses" and "only way to penetrate" :)

    It is not often one get dirty looks from the girl in their office :)

    Good on you for doing all you can to achieve certification!