Seen & Heard

Account for complexity

While reading the conclusion of Mustafa Ghaleiw’s article, "Quality vs. Safety" (September 2013, pp. 22-27), which states that quality should be first in everything the industry does or processes won’t be safe, I became quite uncomfortable because it does not adequately reflect the complexity of offshore development projects. It is unrealistic to think that a single discipline would have sufficient expertise to envelop all systems and processes. For instance, the bow tie and safety-critical elements examples that are presented are generally owned by the risk management and process safety engineering teams, respectively.

Similarly, document control is owned by project services, record control by information management and assurance reviews are conducted by an independent safety and operation group function.

The quality discipline in oil and gas projects is confined to quality control activities, such as planning for product realization and validation of manufacturing processes via the deployment of inspectors. This set of activities is comprehensive and complex in itself, with multiple interrelated processes and process verification requirements, leading to regulatory acceptance of the asset by the regional authority to operate.

Quality professionals in the oil and gas industries should act as integrators to help maintain the focus on the requirements of customers—the users of the asset. I refer to Oscar Combs’ article, "Standard Wise," (September 2013, pp. 16-21): "The ability to meet requirements is directly correlated with having an initial understanding of them." We also should remember that ASQ's manager of quality certification also includes organizational excellence. Prashant Hoskote highlights this in an article: "Too many quality leaders are practitioners—tactical thinkers who are more absorbed with methods than with business needs and organizational outcomes … quality must prove its value."1

As quality professionals, we should always establish that requirements are documented and understood, adequate resources and competencies are in place to execute, and records will be generated that requirements were met. In my opinion, this is the overall highest quality risk to the business.

Quality professionals do not need to replace subject matter experts in everything to achieve these fundamental pillars of safety, compliance and documentation. For example, equipment performance teams should set the functional design input requirements, and reliability teams should be in place for projects. But this quality improvement concept is not well established in the industry.

Max Lyoen


  1. Prashant Hoskote, "Quality—It Isn’t What You Throw at a Problem," Quality Management Forum, Summer 2013, pp. 1-4.

Quoted on quality

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