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Career Tips

What options does one have once he/she gets into the Quality Function?
The typical structure of any Quality Function is this:

Structure of Quality Function

In many companies, one individual would be responsible for multiple streams. For example, the Project Support Head can also be the Audit Head and Training can be a responsibility of the same person who is responsible for Project Support. But typically, the consulting and tools group is managed by different entities as they would involve a lot of external interfaces with customers, other functions and departments etc.
Also these streams can be clubbed under SEPG – Software Engineering Process Group covering Metrics, Audits, Tools, Training and Process; SQA – Software Quality Assurance – covering Project Support; while Consulting would remain as a separate entity.

From a career perspective, one can choose any of the following streams:

  1. Metrics – if you have a flair for data analysis and statistical knowledge (Six Sigma, SPC etc.)
  2. Process – if you have a flair for understanding minute details of how a process works and you have keen interest/expertise in various domains and tools
  3. Audit – if you have an expertise in understanding the process and the right way to detect any anomaly and have a keen eye for spotting issues and concerns that impact the processes
  4. Tools – if you understand the processes, have an expertise in technology and interested in developing and enhancing the internal support system of the company
  5. Consulting – if you have expertise on multiple models and frameworks, excellent communication and client facing skills, and a good understanding of the working of an organization and its internal systems across various domains.
  6. Project Support – if you have a keen interest in assisting the projects excel in their delivery and cost, understand the processes in the organization, and understand models and frameworks and an aptitude to convince people.
  7. Training – if you have a good knowledge of statistics, process, and tools, keen to share knowledge with the intent of enabling employees to perform better.

I would recommend that for a new entrant into the Quality department, he/she should start with:
Project Support, then move to Process, Tools, Audit and Metrics. After gaining enough exposure, get into training and ultimately Consulting.
I am not indicating that consulting is the epitome of the quality career, but a very challenging and important aspect where one can get a good exposure to the outside world and then incorporate the lessons learnt back into the organization.

This means that there has to be a proper role rotation within the quality team to ensure that each member experiences each stream and is able to learn and add value to the organization and the company. This would also ensure that there is enough redundancy built in within the quality function.

Any person interested in getting into quality should consider these aspects before selecting the right stream to start with.

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