Does your company still rely on manual, localized solutions for managing quality? Many global manufacturing organizations do, which typically leads to multiple quality systems and data sources that can cause delays in quality control mitigation and poor documentation management. Especially for companies that have gone through mergers and acquisitions, it can be difficult to harmonize numerous, disconnected quality processes, platforms, and data sources. In fact, a survey by LNS Research found that 78% of companies are “operating in a state of quality management disconnect.” To ensure your organization has a reliable method for collecting and analyzing massive amounts of data from many different touchpoints, you’ll need a streamlined and efficient quality management system (QMS). Enterprise quality management software (EQMS) offers a comprehensive solution for deriving a single source of truth from the constant flow of data while also monitoring your regulatory compliance measures and improving communication and collaboration across the value chain. The process of selecting an EQMS, however, is a complex undertaking that demands multi-level, multi-regional, cross-functional, and inter-departmental collaboration. It can be challenging to define the scope, design a request for proposal (RFP), evaluate software vendors, and reach a conclusion. Here’s how to properly go about selecting an EQMS vendor for your organization.
Define Project Scope and Role of EQMS
When you choose to implement an EQMS, what often happens is that your organization’s goals tend to vary across departments and locations. Perhaps the greatest benefit of an EQMS is that it can be customized to fit the bill for many of your quality processes within a single system. Rather than relying on localized solutions that are fragmented throughout the organization, an EQMS provides a central hub of quality intelligence needed to manage quality on a global scale. As you set out to find an EQMS vendor, form a selection team to define the scope of your project and the role EQMS will play in your organization. Every department should have a voice in planning quality management from an enterprise-wide perspective. Meet with upper management stakeholders across your organization to align your corporate business and quality objectives. Consider focusing on a narrowly defined set of goals, such as improving first-pass yields or new-product introductions. Once you have defined your goals, you’ll need to understand how EQMS will be used to meet these KPIs. Here are some ways EQMS can be used to help meet the different goals within your organization:
- Consolidate IT systems into a holistic solution.
- Standardize processes and metrics.
- Automate key quality processes like nonconformances, corrective and preventive actions, audits, and more.
- Integrate quality systems of suppliers.
- Improve business agility with real-time data.
You’ll then want to seek budget approval to meet the costs of an EQMS vendor and move forward in the selection process.
Request For Proposal
Once you have defined the scope of your project, outline your core set of EQMS vendor requirements in a request for proposal (RFP). Be sure to label individual requirements as mandatory, important, desirable, etc. to quickly establish whether an EQMS vendor meets your requirements during the evaluation process. An RFP is critical to gaining insight into an EQMS vendor’s capabilities as they pertain to your scope and need. It’s also an opportunity to ensure that vendors respond to your criteria. An RFP allows vendors to individually present their software products and associated services like implementation and training. The RFP should also detail a vendor’s financial stability, product maturity, and experience. Templates that tabulate specifics, outlining exactly what is required by the vendors are the best way to design an RFP. EQMS vendor responses should be dropdown only not to undermine your cross-vendor comparison efforts. Be clear when asking whether a requirement is met out of the box, with configuration, or requires customization. Where a vendor does not meet a requirement or needs more clarification, allow enough freedom within your RFP design for the vendor to provide comments or explanations.
Evaluate EQMS Vendors
To evaluate EQMS vendor RFPs, each member of the selection team must work from a set of common criteria, coming together at the end of the evaluation process to consolidate findings and select the right solution. Integration is critical when sorting through vendor RFPs, particularly regarding integration points (e.g., if the vendor primarily focuses on enterprise resource planning integration). You’ll want to evaluate vendors based on scripts, scoring, implementation, and references.
Vendor demonstrations typically follow a set format. There is an introduction section where the vendor has the opportunity to talk about its organization and qualifications, followed by a demonstration, where the vendor will align the requirements set out in the RFP that best suits its software. Provide scripts to the vendor to ensure all requirements set out in the RFP are demonstrated in the context of the process your organization plans to deploy and include diagrams of your core processes, if possible.
To help facilitate fair and objective evaluation, maintain a consistent approach for scoring each EQMS vendor. You can use the same template used for requirements in the RFP or create a similar template for evaluating each EQMS vendor’s demonstration. Each member of your selection team should have their own copy, and results should be compiled at the end of the evaluation process.
Implementation and support are two areas you’ll want to inquire of the vendor, as poorly implemented systems can lock in inefficiencies and result in a lower-than-desired ROI. RFP responses should outline a vendor’s start-to-finish implementation methodology, along with any tools used to support implementation. You’ll want to assess and compare costs and timelines as well as provide questions regarding your desired approach, such as phased modules by business unit.
Require vendors to provide customer references. Speak with customers that exhibit similar characteristics to your organization and have implemented EQMS within the last 18-24 months. Ask the references about their experiences with the vendor’s execution implementing the EQMS, availability for training and support, return on investment, and any software-specific questions you may have.
Select an EQMS
It’s often challenging for an organization to determine the best EQMS. By following the steps outlined above, you can significantly reduce selection risks and feel confident in your choice of vendor. Is your business ready for Enterprise Quality Management Software? Contact IQS today to request a demo or learn more about our enterprise quality management software.