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Joby George


Don’t Let Ineffective Quality Management Drag You Down

Take these first three steps toward an EQMS solution

Published: Friday, October 28, 2016 - 13:51

Having difficulty managing quality and quality-related data? You’re not alone. Many manufacturers struggle with this these issues due to paper-based or other disparate systems being used to track, manage, and report on quality events. Walk about a production room floor, and there’s a good chance you’ll see a few three-ring binders or folders stuffed with handwritten, quality-related worksheets and forms.

Some manufacturing companies may also use email, spreadsheets, or homegrown software systems to capture quality events. But even then, gathering and consolidating information for audits and reporting can be a nightmare. And the problem is exacerbated by the number of external partners, regulatory bodies, and diverse reporting requirements from country to country.

But beyond the inefficiencies, there are some serious risks associated with these manual and paper-based methods of managing quality, for companies and consumers alike. A lack of visibility into quality events could mean a harmful product makes it out to market, leaving manufacturers to deal with product recalls, and risk to brand reputation and stock price value.

Other times, the consequences can be less severe but equally as damning. For example, failing to comply with industry regulations can delay or prevent a product from reaching the market, which can be financially crippling due to the time necessary to resolve.

With so many risks involved when using an ineffective, manual system, it only makes sense to start down the digital path as quickly as possible, and implement an enterprise quality management solution (EQMS). An EQMS centralizes, standardizes, and automates quality process workflows, providing visibility and accountability for quality-related activities. But many companies—especially new and small to medium-sized manufacturers—are hesitant to do so.

Enterprise software has had a reputation of being expensive to deploy and to maintain. For new or small manufacturing companies that lack the IT budget, infrastructure, or staff resources of more established competitors, this can be a roadblock. Beyond that, newer manufacturers often have simpler needs and may not need as robust of a solution from the start.

Luckily these newer and smaller manufacturers have alternate options. There are now several cloud-based quality management solutions that offer many of the advantages of an on-premise solution while minimizing IT demands. Although cloud solutions have been used in other parts of the enterprise for years, cloud computing will play an important role in enabling IT to support quality between now and 2017, according to the analyst firm Gartner. The core benefits of a cloud solution are:
Collaboration: Work across and beyond your organization in a shared environment, from anywhere in the world, at any time.
Flexibility: Quickly scale your solution to meet increased demands and quality needs
Security: Cloud providers have many security layers that can avert data breaches. In fact, many have argued that your data are safer in the cloud then in your own office.

Leveraging a cloud-based solution also frees you from having to make capital expenditures. There are no servers, network switches, or other hardware to purchase and maintain. You don’t need to hire full-time staff to manage and administer the system, either, which saves operating expenses. Instead, you turn your computer on, launch a browser, and log in.

So how can you get started?

The first step is to make sure you’re not simply digitizing handwritten logs. Many cloud QMS solutions offer out-of-the-box workflows that are based on industry-leading best-practices. By implementing those best practices, you can accelerate your deployment and avoid the pain of learning by trial and error.

Second, choose a solution provider that is purely focused on quality management systems and can serve as an advisor. Many newer solution providers thrill prospective clients with sleek user interfaces and fancy visualizations. But they often lack the expertise to overcome common roadblocks. Thus, implementations fail, resources are wasted, and people lose jobs.

Finally, use data analytics to track progress and prove ROI to your management team. Many cloud QMS solutions can help you to intuitively piece together data from different sources and different stages in a product’s life cycle. This increased visibility reduces the risk of falling out of compliance or having to pull a product from the market.

To learn more about cloud QMS and how you can accelerate your quality management strategies, register for the upcoming Quality Digest webinar, “Three Steps to Accelerate Quality Management,” which will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016, at 2 p.m. Eastern/11 a.m. Pacific


About The Author

Joby George’s picture

Joby George

Joby George is a product manager at Sparta Systems, developer of quality management software solutions. George has been with Sparta for more than 11 years with experience in the support, services, and pre-sales organizations. He has lead the effort on various TrackWise solutions, such as the Electronic Regulatory Report and TrackWise Analytics. Currently his primary responsibility is leading and defining the product and development efforts for  Stratas SaaS-based solutions. George has bachelor of science degrees in computer science and economics from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.