Part 1 of 4 To guide your organization toward a truly holistic and integrated quality management system, this four-part blog series covers how to prepare your QMS project for quick capital approval. The operational synergies enabled by an integrated quality management system are well known from a quality management professional's point of view, but communicating these benefits to the enterprise at large remains as challenging as ever. Knowing which pitfalls to avoid and which benefits to highlight will help you break through organizational gridlock and finally gain executive approval for an integrated quality management system.
5 Questions to Prepare your QMS Project for Quick Capital Approval
Making a sound business case for integrated quality management depends on being able to bring all stakeholders on board and provide the right data to executives to justify the cost of software implementation and maintenance. However, if you anticipate the most common obstacles, you can essentially preempt the gridlock between approval channels within your organization. At the very least, you need to ask yourself these five questions to benchmark your readiness to seek capital approval for your QMS project:
- Have you fully evaluated the quality management capabilities of your current systems?
- Have you defined your project's requirements well enough?
- Have you justified the cost and itemized the benefits of integrated quality management?
- Have you secured executive-level and IT sponsorship?
- Have you tied your project's goals to current fiscal year corporate initiatives?
The answers to these top five questions are certainly complex and warrant close scrutiny as you prepare to make your case to corporate leadership.
Evaluating the Capabilities of Your Current Systems
Depending on your company's position along the value chain, some of your quality management capabilities may be more mature than others. For instance, if your organization is design-intensive, you most likely have a very robust product life cycle management (PLM) software in place. From a different perspective, if your company focuses exclusively on manufacturing operations, your quality management systems tie very closely to enterprise resources planning (ERP) solutions and manufacturing operations management (MOM) software. Everyone agrees that quality is important, but too many companies still view quality as just another department and not a responsibility throughout the enterprise. A company's corporate culture surrounding quality is often the missing piece of a complete QMS evaluation and gap analysis. In an ideal scenario, your quality management system needs to foster a culture of collaboration and communication to lift total quality throughout the enterprise by integrating PLM, ERP, MOM, and QMS data.
Defining Your Project's Requirements
This aspect relates very closely to the gap analysis between your current quality management capabilities and the capabilities you want to have in place in the near future. You should never forget that an enterprise software implementation is an incredibly complex (but certainly not insurmountable) undertaking. Before presenting decision makers with your request, you must ensure that you accurately assess which quality management capabilities align with your organization's corporate goals. For example, an original equipment manufacturer in the automotive industry may benefit substantially from integrating quality management data into the design process as early as possible to improve corrective and preventative actions.
Justifying the Cost and Itemizing the Benefits
Total cost of quality is one of the most visible metrics to corporate leadership. As a quality management professional, you need to divide your analysis between the cost of good quality and the cost of poor quality and be able to itemize the benefits to all stakeholders. One strategy is to stress the importance of timely investments in the cost of good quality versus focusing exclusively on reductions to the cost of poor quality. Between the two components of the cost of quality metric, there is not a one-to-one relationship. Essentially, a single dollar spent on improving appraisal and prevention costs does not equal a dollar saved toward the cost of poor quality. In fact, investments in good quality can have ripple effects that create operational efficiencies that may lead to reductions in internal failure costs and external failure costs, as well.
Securing Executive-level and IT Sponsorship
To cut through the sales hype, you need IT's blessing to make your quality management system implementation a reality. You should never forget that, like quality management departments, IT has been forced to do more with less resources. At a glance, adding another solution to an enterprise software stack is not preferable to stakeholders in IT. But if you remind IT that integrated quality management systems can actually lessen their administrative burden, you can win buy-in faster. In essence, IT can join the fight to champion your QMS project to C-level executives.
Tying Your Project's Goals to Current Fiscal Year Corporate Initiatives
The overarching theme among the top five questions to benchmark your QMS project's readiness revolves around gaining buy-in from stakeholders outside of your company's quality department. To speed the capital approval process, you should remember to stay focused on the "low-hanging fruits" that may have a faster payback period and an attractive, high return-on-investment figure. Long-term investments in the cost of good quality are difficult to justify without showing executives that integrated quality management can benefit the enterprise today - not just five to 10 years from now. Whether it's to reduce scrap, rework, or customer returns, if you clearly show how integrated quality management improves these critical metrics, you may be able to win executive buy-in faster than you may believe. By answering these five questions, you can increase the likelihood that top-level decision makers will approve your project. To take the discussion further, the next segment of this blog series will cover five key steps to integrating your QMS project with corporate initiatives.