Chapter 6: Advanced Quality Management for Dummies
Your organization is ready for a QMS. Perhaps your data is siloed, and you’re stuck using paper-based systems and manual processes. As business processes continue to grow more complex and regulations increase, you want to take action. But how to proceed?
A step-wise process helps you ensure that you do your due diligence and execute effectively. This chapter looks at four steps that you can follow to find the right quality management software for your organization.
The steps are as follows:
- Step 1. Evaluating the current situation
- Step 2. Determining the needs and assessing implementation plans
- Step 3. Evaluating the QMS options and preparing for post-implementation success
- Step 4. Completing the investment
This chapter looks at each of those steps in turn.
Step 1: Evaluating the Current Situation
To begin your QMS plan, you need to make an honest evaluation of your organization’s strengths and weaknesses. This should be an organization-wide initiative, so be prepared to engage all relevant stakeholders to build consensus.
Make sure you choose your quality management team from across the business — including IT — and engage them from the beginning. This way, you can capitalize on their expertise and relationships organization-wide. Also, include the broader team in vendor calls from the outset, so that all the essential issues and concerns are surfaced upfront. You’ll benefit from cross-functional support at all stages.
Speaking the Language of Business
One thing you’ll want to consider as you begin this initiative is the ability of your quality professionals to speak the language of business.
What does this mean? One measure of success when implementing a QMS software is the full approval of upper management. Unless the quality team can speak to executives in the language of business — revenue, cost savings, risk, and return on investment (ROI), and even sustainability — you may not get the buy-in you want and the outcomes you deserve.
Tom Perkins, Quality Manager, Skywater Technologies said, “When we invested in ETQ’s QMS we immediately recognized that we could reduce our risk of non-compliance, streamline operations, reduce costs, and grow revenue.”
Conveying the right message
As you begin to solidify your team, you need to ensure that every member understands the game-changing benefits a quality management system can deliver. What are the most important messages? Consider the following:
- Quality matters: Your team needs to understand why quality matters. They should be aware of all the benefits good quality can bring so that they can convey to everyone why they should want to graduate from paper and manual processes or upgrade from a first-generation EQMS.
- Quality is a strategic initiative: The team needs to understand why quality is a strategic initiative that can provide great value to your whole organization. Quality can make business operations more sustainable and more autonomous.
- QMS software improves efficiency and delivers a strong ROI: Your team needs to convey to executives that a QMS system can make your employees’ lives easier and provide a significant ROI. Make sure you have the metrics to back it up. You’ll need those for buy-in.
Check out the webinar “The ROI of Quality” to hear how ROI analysis can help justify quality projects and move forward with additional investments in quality.
Step 2: Determining QMS Needs and Assessing Implementation Plans
In this step, you determine your key QMS decision criteria and investigate potential QMS partners.
Begin by defining your requirements and key performance indicators (KPIs). Chapter 2 presented the four maturity stages of the Quality Journey. You may want to look back to that chapter to refresh your understanding of where your organization may be situated today and how you intend to expand your quality programs over time. Start with your goals in mind.
If you’re ready to evaluate your organization’s strengths and weaknesses, you may want to check out the ETQ Quality Fitness Grader to find your organization’s strengths and recommended actions for advancing along your quality journey.
Asking the right questions
You need to be clear about your objectives and business needs. Make sure that your list of goals is tangible and that you know how you’ll measure them.
To help determine the specific areas in which you should invest, check out the decision criteria checklist.
To ensure success with your investment in QMS software, it’s important to evaluate and prioritize the most relevant criteria to meet your organization’s needs in both the software solution and the vendor company you choose to partner with.
You may want to speak with multiple QMS vendors and evaluate their capabilities against your key criteria. If you decide to issue a formal Request for Proposal (RFP), you’ll need to select an evaluation team to support your review of all responses.
A QMS RFP template can help you structure your Request for Proposal. This template contains an extensive list of QMS software features and vendor attributes that you can customize to match the needs of your organization..
Step 3: Evaluating the QMS options and preparing for post-implementation success
You’ve made your assessments, you know your organization’s priorities, and you’ve mapped out its unique goals. As part of your analysis you should ask your prospective QMS partner to help you prepare the business case for the QMS purchase. Experienced QMS firms can help you understand the cost savings and potential revenue gains you’ll be able to achieve with the solution you plan to implement over the next two to three years. This return on investment (ROI) forms the basis of your business case.
Familiarize yourself with how other manufacturers have measured the ROI of their QMS programs. Read the full report, “Driving ROI: The Business Case for a Proven Quality Management System.”
The QMS software you choose must meet all your criteria for performance, costs, and training. To prepare for post- implementation success you need to:
- Create your change management strategy
- Identify your key priorities and be sure you can measure them
- Engage and motivate the full team
- Reinforce your training plans
- Don’t go it alone! Leverage the resources of your QMS partners
Step 4. Completing the Investment
Finally, you’re sure about what your organization needs and the QMS partner to choose. Now, it’s time to decide to move ahead with the backing of all your critical stakeholders.
Develop a work plan and build a schedule for onboarding and training. Support your roll-out with frequent communications of the QMS benefits and keep in touch with users so you can continue to optimize the system.
Keep your ROI business case as the centerpiece of your project so that you and cross-functional executives can see progress toward organization goals. With an Advanced QMS you’ll have a future-proof platform on which to deliver ongoing financial benefits for your organization.