Choosing the Right Quality Management Solution
Lean manufacturing initiatives allow businesses to improve the efficiency of production processes. Today, lean initiatives are spreading into the domain of quality management systems, streamlining operations among geographically dispersed manufacturing sites and suppliers. Adopting an enterprise-wide approach provides upper-level management with an improved visibility of quality management within a closed-loop system. When choosing the right quality management software solution, companies should take the following aspects into account before moving forward with implementing a new enterprise-wide system.
Lean quality management strategy demands that the proposed software solutions integrate seamlessly into existing systems. In the past, manufacturers had several disparate layers of software to manage, such as ERP, MES, PLM, SRM and CRM systems. An integrated solution must be able to take into account the intricacies of these existing IT architectures. An ideal quality management software solution should smoothly integrate the data contained within these systems, tying together all components of an efficient quality management system. Fusing systems together also reduces the likelihood of data entry errors that can confound corrective action initiatives during the most inopportune time.
Deploying the latest software solution alone is not sufficient to commit to lean quality management strategies. Integrated solutions can only perform the automated tasks that they have been configured to control. Companies must select a configurable quality management solution that suits the specific needs of their industry. One manufacturer may prefer a perpetual software installation, but a cost-mitigating hosted SaaS solution gives companies the benefit of on-demand, agile IT. Establishing the proper protocols for editing data fields, reports, screen views and user privileges is equally important when configuring software to fit business needs. Ideally, quality management software products must also be able to include a multilingual capability for coordinating operations with global partners.
Once an integrated, optimally configured quality management system is in place, its usability will become rather apparent. To increase usability, integrated solutions must have consistency in screens to reduce the likelihood of data entry mishaps, and an array of wizards from which to choose helps users to link and embed documents as needed. Integrated quality management systems afford manufacturers the ability to send email notifications of tasks and responsibilities via an automated system. As problems arise, management must be able to spring into action by analyzing reports via an integrated dashboard to optimize business intelligence initiatives from a quality management perspective.
Security and Support
Security is paramount when implementing any new software solution. Innumerable security threats face manufacturers in today’s online business environment. Coordinating quality management initiatives among manufacturing sites and suppliers is one of the primary goals of an integrated system, but improved communication does not have to sacrifice security. An optimal quality management software solution must be able to configure user rights and electronic signatures accordingly. Selecting a vendor that offers support services with an experienced support staff is one way to set security policies. Further, by choosing a vendor with a knowledgeable support staff, companies can realign internal IT resources to execute lean quality management initiatives.
Satisfying Quality Standards
Today, quality standards are beginning to seep into the sphere of IT departments, which only complicates the issue of achieving regulatory compliance at a low cost. The regulatory pressures facing the healthcare IT sector is one example of new quality standards. As the number of standards a company must satisfy increases, achieving compliance at a low cost becomes more difficult to achieve when deploying applications. An integrated solution serves as a means for companies to adapt to regulatory pressures more quickly.
These components of an optimal quality management software solution represent a rudimentary set of principles that manufacturers can follow. The challenges of implementing a new enterprise-wide software solution demand that businesses opt for a vendor with an experienced staff to ease the transition process.