It is an undeniable fact that you want your company to be fueled by innovation, all while producing high-quality products and meeting the global demands of a competitive marketplace. Yet, the reality is, your outdated quality management system (QMS) may be holding you back.
The pains of an outdated quality management system can be felt throughout the entire manufacturing process. Externally, some signs of an outdated QMS include having a high return rate on products, frequent recalls, and few repeat sales from customers. Internally, you may lack reliable quality data, and employees may be performing several time-consuming tasks. These all have a direct impact on your product quality, sales, and bottom-line.
If this sounds like some of the problems your company faces, it may be time to consider changing the archaic processes that are keeping you from capitalizing on efficiency and growth. These six steps can help you begin your process of quality management system improvement.
1. Assess Your Current QMS
All is not lost. Some elements of your current QMS might be worth saving. Start by identifying the areas where human input is needed versus what should be automated.
Automating tasks such as communication, documentation, audits, customer feedback, and risk assessment will prove to be one of the most potent measures you can take to get back on track. This approach saves significant time from manual processes and strengthens process consistency by aggregating collected data in real-time.
If you are looking into replacing an outdated quality management system, ask yourself if the quality management model you use is still relevant. Switching to a new QMS could even be an opportunity to adopt a new approach, such as Six Sigma or Total Quality Management (TQM).
2. Review Quality Standards
A common quality standard to start with is ISO 9001:2015. The latest principles of this standard provide a practical and workable solution for quality management systems by outlining risk management, continuous improvement, goal setting, and documentation. Adopting an ISO 9001-certified, software-based QMS would certainly be a strength that separates you from competitors because it illustrates your commitment to both industry requirements and customer satisfaction.
It’s important that when reviewing both the quality requirements that apply to your industry and your internal quality standards, to look at how well your existing QMS does or does not meet these expectations. If you’re lacking in one or more of those areas, consider how a new QMS can help get you there. You might even be surprised to learn that by switching, you might gain a significant ROI.
3. Make the Most out of Automated Analytics and Reports
As technology advances and your company continues to grow, so will your data. You will need a mechanism to not only capture the data in real-time but also provide detailed analytics and reports.
The faster you can capture and use this data, the better equipped you will be to respond to trends and quality issues with production. This can be especially useful, for example, in reducing your defect rate if you decide to implement automated shutdowns of the production line or provide automated alerts when a production issue is identified.
Without these capabilities, or without taking advantage of that existing functionality within your current process, you may not be getting a 360-degree view of your company’s productivity in the quality ecosystem, or even worse, you may receive your insights too late.
4. Merge Quality Management and Employee Training
To manage the initiatives and procedures outlined in your quality management processes, you must begin communicating to your employees about the importance of quality and goals as early as possible. This starts with proper training.
Training facilitates employee buy-in to quality improvements and allows employees to understand why engaging in quality-driven practices is so crucial to the vision of the company. A skilled and competent workforce will propel your company’s quality and regulatory compliance, therefore enhancing productivity and product quality.
5. Take a Global Approach
It's possible that your outdated QMS may have treated quality as a standalone process, especially if your departments were acting autonomously. This forces you to continue engaging in frustratingly reactive processes.
Thanks to modern-day quality management systems, you can adopt a closed-loop process where data is dispersed seamlessly from engineering to suppliers, to manufacturing, down to customer service. This facilitates improvements early in the value chain, helping you to continuously correct or prevent quality issues before they happen.
Furthermore, making data available to your entire company drastically improves visibility for both management and geographically dispersed departments, suppliers, and stakeholders. With a global approach from an updated QMS, you will be better equipped to aggregate data to prepare for audits, quickly interact with customers, and perform necessary tests on the production line.
6. Aim for Continuous Improvement
While upgrading your old QMS is a step in the right direction, you can’t assume that this is where your efforts stop. You must adopt an organizational attitude of continual process improvement. Continuous improvement of the quality management system is a long-term approach to improve your ways of working to drive higher productivity and profitability.
The first step is building an inclusive culture where all employees feel involved in the process of recommending and deploying improvements. Continuous improvement is also one of the most pinnacle elements of the ISO 9001:2015 set of standards, which is why implementing an ISO-9001-certified QMS is so essential.
Transform Your QMS
If you are still using an outdated quality management system, don’t let that slow you down from making process improvements. While failing to modernize your legacy processes could be holding you back in several strategic areas, you now have two viable options to either improve your current workflow processes, or to update to a new quality management system, like an enterprise quality management software (EQMS). While the rewards to making these changes won’t be immediate, they will undoubtedly be substantial in allowing you to leave inefficient processes behind.
Ready to update your outdated quality management system? Contact IQS today to learn more about our enterprise quality management software and to request a demo.