In my role as the US Quality Assurance Recruitment specialist at Barrington James, I have the pleasure of speaking with hundreds of top QA professionals in the industry on a weekly basis. In this article I wanted to cover some of the biggest battles I have noticed so far between QA consultants and clients.
Telling colleagues that the work they have put their blood, sweat and tears into has errors, can be like telling them that their baby is ugly. It is important to tread softly. When I am speaking with a consultant or I am taking a reference for one of my candidates. I look very closely at how they handle difficult situations. There is a fine balance asking the right questions but doing so in a way which is not demoralising to the colleague/department.
Surprisingly, I have had candidates asked in interviews about how seriously they take compliance. This is the company trying to probe how much can they get away with. Will the consultant prevent them from cutting corners? Consultants – if this situation happens to you, keep to your morals and politely educate them why you do not like to cut corners. A good way to do this is by using real life examples of compliance issues which were not taken seriously. If this doesn’t work – would you really like to work for a company like this?
Another reoccurring situation I see is when experienced consultants, who are ex Directors / VP’s themselves, disagree with the choices of the QA lead/who they report to. This is always tough and something I have seen contracts terminated early for. At what point as a consultant do you step over the line? Ideally, the person you are reporting to should take on all advice/critiques that consultants give them. But in reality, this is not the case. Something I like to remind all of my consultants is although it is important they do everything they can to effectively help the company. They can only advise and consult. Consultants work on an hours worked hours paid basis, they are not an official employee who has benefits and a secure salary. Consultants should not bear the responsibility if the QA Director/lead at the company fails to take on the advice given.
Quality should not be a continuous battles against the rest of the organization. Quite often, companies expect Quality Assurance to be the problem solver. Whilst in a lot of cases they are – the organization needs to realise that compliance needs to be a part of everyone’s role. How can you as a consultant motivate others to be a part of compliance? Remind the client/company that continuous improvement should be everyone’s responsibility. Not just to please the FDA but for profitability too. Be creative in your method. Every company is different and you must adapt to that companies environment. One consultant of mine who runs refresher trainings likes to incorporate managers from other departments to lead parts of the training as a way of looking at compliance issues from a first-hand point of view. I was recently told about a project that a consultancy had with a Top 10 Pharma to investigate the QMS. The staff at the company felt insulted as to why they were brought on. The consulting group lost the project and did not even make it to the remediation stage due to disorganisation and failure to get the internal staff on board & motivated.
Having an understanding to this aspect of Quality is an extremely important aspect to my role as a Quality Assurance recruitment specialist. I pride myself of diving into the details of consultants experience but also diplomacy and motivation skills. If you would like to hear more about the contract opportunities I am currently recruiting for or would like to see profiles for a particular position your company has a need for, then please do reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and connect with me on Linkedin.