Collaborative Quality Management Solutions
This article was originally published in the January 2020 GPOptimizer Magazine Winter Edition
By Frances Donnelly, C.Q.P.A.
Director Product Development and Sales, Horizons International
Confidence in the quality of your products is a critical requirement for your customers.
Every department in your organization has a role to play in keeping customers engaged and confident, but one department carries the bulk of the responsibility: the Quality department. They are the group that ensures product standards and safety goals are met, and they are the ones in charge of documenting and delivering that evidence to the customer.
Mostly likely, you have a defined set of policies, objectives, processes and goals that make up your Quality Management System. You offer that content to customers to demonstrate your desire to obtain and retain their confidence. Your system is probably modeled on standards such as ISO9001 or another industry specific regulation. You want your customers to know how the goals of quality will be achieved and what the corrective action and improvement tasks will be in the face of errors.
But is That Enough?
If your systems are still heavily paper-based, or you have to spend time migrating data from one silo to another, the answer is that while they may work now, they won't work forever. Why is that? Increasingly, customers want to operate in a more collaborative manner. They are starting to see your data, as being... well... their data.
More importantly, they want that data now. For good reason:
As the supply chains shrink, and time to market gets shorter, there is a growing need for closer cooperation between both your internal teams and your external partners. Everyone understands supply chain outcomes that include communications around quality expand responsiveness and enable competitive advantage. Your customers want to seamlessly meet their customers' needs for information - without additional costs for data management and access. They look to you to furnish that data, but they also want it to be immediately useful in their own systems. Your customers also want to know that your company is equipped to be highly responsive to concerns. Their costs are driven by how quickly you are able to identify negative trends or find errors or non-conformances. Customers realize that if you are busy transferring data from worksheet, to email, to analytic tools, then the delay in recognizing and responding to an issue is passed on as cost to them.
Knowing your company uses tools that digitally transform your processes and allow for immediate access to data without the time wasted on additional migration or transcription, has become a critical evaluation point for customers when considering suppliers. They want to be confident that you'll know about any issues right away, and that you'll be able to handle them.
Legacy Systems and Paper Based Tools Lack the Digital Attributes to Support Collaboration
There is no requirement that the elements of your QMS be delivered or managed using software. Each organization is able to build and execute their QMS with the tools and resources that they deem most appropriate. For many decades, these systems have been paper-based and have been supported with incremental use of software like spreadsheets or home-grown solutions based on Access and other tools.
Now, as the need for collaboration extends beyond a single enterprise and into the supply chain, companies have a new reason to take a hard look at the resiliency and capability of their existing QMS systems. Customers want to feel confident with their supplier. They want proof that processes are in place to ensure product safety and reliability.
They also want punctuality.
Sadly, this is where most hybrid tools that are still heavily paper-based, fail. It takes time to transfer content from one set of documents to the tools needed to generate additional documents. In examining existing legacy systems, we find many lack the responsiveness needed to maintain competitive advantage and customer confidence.
Quality Essentials Suite: A Solution for Real Time Collaboration Inside and Outside Your Organization
The trust of your customers is paramount to success. Our software aims to provide you with an alternative to legacy systems. One that can affordably enable the collaboration activities your customers desire.
Our software solution supports data collection from all the potential functional sources in your operations. The collected data is managed in a Microsoft SQL database from which users can select data using a long list of tools and features.
Why Does a Database for your QMS Enable Easy Collaboration?
A database provides secure data. In a database where inputs are governed by an application, data is validated during entry, and audit trails to track changes can be engaged. User security can be robustly managed to ensure access only by authorized users.
A database also means that application features that have widespread, repeatable use can be relied upon across many, many transactions. Internal or external users will have their data needs met consistently, in a cost-effective and prompt manner, which is the goal of a collaborative QMS.
Why are unlimited concurrent user access and affordability so important for easy collaboration?
Many situations hinder easy collaboration. One of the most obvious constraints is available user licenses for data access. Most licensing restrictions are about cost. We believe this barrier should be eliminated in order to allow companies to be truly collaborative, which is why our collaborative QMS comes with unlimited concurrent user access.
Let's face it, no matter how much we want to do a better job for our customers, or how beneficial the effort for digital transformation can be, if it is too costly, it won't get done. Solutions that do everything are expensive and their levels of integration can be a hindrance to responsiveness.
When processes are built around constraints like per user license cost, companies lose the freedom to build the most efficient processes possible.
True collaboration means everyone should have appropriate access to the available data. If you are ready to see what a QMS built for collaboration can do, view a demo or call sales at (866) 949 9504 ext. 811.
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