Process Ownership 101 for Your Quality Management System

KRAGUJEVAC, SERBIA - CIRCA APRIL 2012: Workers assembles cars at Fiat Cars Serbia factory, circa April 2012 in Kragujevac.

QMS Process Ownership 101

Who is a Process Owner?

A process owner is the person who is accountable for maintaining and improving a particular process, and is responsible for the outcomes of the process. 

Define Your Quality Management System Processes 

Identifying process owners and understanding their significance in a quality management system (QMS) is one of the most critical aspects in maintaining an effective and efficient management system.  Process ownership is especially relevant in the automotive realm of IATF 16949, but extends to any QMS standard like AS9100 (aerospace) and ISO 9001.  IATF 16949 Clause actually states that top management shall identify process owners  and ensure that they understand their roles and are competent to perform them.

Identify and Empower the Process Owners

Once the processes of your quality management system are defined, the next step is to identify who has the responsibility for the performance of those processes.  This step replaces selection of a management system representative as required by past quality management system standards.  The significance of this change is that processes are now owned by a process owner with the responsibility and authority to improve, correct, and change the processes as dictated by process performance and input from interested parties.

Process Owner Responsibilities:

  • Defines the process and its purpose
  • Ensures process goals and objectives are met 
  • Determines and implements Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  • Ensures employees receive the required support training/mentoring
  • Monitors and reports process performance
  • Synchronizes process improvement plans with other process owners and other interfacing processes
  • Reviews, approves, implements and communicates process changes and/or improvements 
  • Advises management of process issues or interruptions

Plan – Do – Check – Act (AS9100, ISO 9001, IATF 16949, etc.)

Plan-Do-Check-Act chart for a QMS

Process owners who monitor the effectiveness and efficiency of their process can more efficiently react to performance issues.  They can also participate in meeting leadership requirements by reporting effectiveness and efficiency performance to top leadership in the organization.  This process of setting performance goals, monitoring performance, and reacting to results aids the organization in maintaining a plan, do, check, act cycle that meets the objective of continual improvement and supports growth and expanded profitability in the organization.


Process Ownership, Engagement and Improvement

The organization may still maintain a management representative who tracks the performance of processes in collaboration with process owners but it is important that this individual has the authority to insist that process owners react to the key performance indicators of their process.  Holding this one management representative accountable for all processes is inefficient, ineffective, and will likely result in findings during a third party quality management system audit.  Third party auditors will interview each process owner and will expect to see the signs of ownership, engagement, and improvement.

If your organization is struggling to engage process owners in monitoring and maintaining their processes simpleQuE has the tools you need to help process owners excel.  Let our expert trainers and consultants work with your team to provide Process Ownership training and/or process owner targeted consulting so that your organization can begin reaping the benefits of effective process ownership.

About the author:  Kim Roan is a certified lead auditor for ISO 9001:2015 and IATF 16949:2016 in addition to a VDA 6.3 certified process auditor.  She completed her undergrad in Mechanical Engineering and Master’s in Psychology with an emphasis in Organizational Leadership.  Kim has over 20 years automotive industry experience including 10 years in leadership and management roles.   Kim’s work experience includes student and contract engineering with GM, 11 years working for a German automotive supplier in the USA and experience supplying OEMs in North America, Germany and Asia across the years of her career. 

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