Quality professionals know the value of automation. Minimizing errors that lead to defects, freeing up internal resources and optimizing collaboration can all have a significant impact on your bottom line and brand reputation. These are all key benefits of automated quality management software.
However, there’s a gap in quality management automation. Despite a widespread desire to automate critical quality processes, most companies haven’t taken the steps to make it happen.
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More often than not, the problem is one of prioritization. With potentially hundreds of quality processes to automate, it can be difficult and overwhelming to choose a starting point. And when you’re working with outdated tools and processes, conducting effective quality audits to identify the best opportunities can be difficult.
Getting started with automated quality management software is all about prioritizing a few processes that will have the biggest impact on your business. There are three critical quality management processes that fit that requirement—corrective action (sometimes called CAPA), document control and employee training.
1. Corrective Action with Quality Management Software
When you’re using spreadsheets and SharePoint to manage corrective action (sometimes known as CAPA) manually, you’re likely to face challenges with traceability and control. Even if you manage to avoid costly quality errors and streamline spreadsheet workflows as much as possible, manually managing corrective action can result in inaccurate or missing records.
Without accurate records, quality professionals can’t measure or optimize the effectiveness and efficiency of corrective action processes. And when it comes time to prove compliance with regulations and ISO standards, the lack of traceability will prove problematic.
By automating corrective action processes, you’re able to:
- Filter by risk: Automated quality management systems (QMS) build risk into your corrective action processes. That means you can filter actions by their risk levels, ensuring you’re prioritizing your next steps more efficiently.
- Customize action plans: Automated notifications keep investigations, root cause analyses and other corrective action processes on track to streamline resolution.
- Improve visibility: Traceability requires accurate records of every issue from start to finish. An automated process cleans up record storage while collecting compliance history, action items and related quality data to help you spot trends in performance.
2. Document Control with Quality Management Software
Document control also plays a significant role in your ability to maintain regulatory compliance. A single versioning error could cost your company millions of dollars if discovered during an audit. Manual spreadsheets and traditional workflows simply can’t keep pace with your ever-growing volume of data and increasingly strict compliance requirements.
When you automate the control of manuals, procedures, specifications and other documents, you maximize efficiency of quality audits and operations by:
- Ensuring accountability: Automated systems send email reminders to ensure that documents never get buried in an inbox, keeping your quality processes running smoothly.
- Managing revisions: The right QMS will improve collaboration with change requests, enabling continuous improvement as all key stakeholders in a workflow are notified of new requests.
- Maintaining audit readiness: With centralized and automated document tracking, you can make sure that all assets are readily accessible for audits and inspections no matter how little notice is given of an impending audit. Automated document control also ensures the newest versions of documents are always readily available, eliminating the possibility that outdated assets are provided to auditors.
3. Employee Training with Quality Management Software
No matter how many processes you automate, the overall quality of work in your company will depend on the safety and performance of human actions. That’s why it’s so important to apply quality management to employee training systems.
However, managing employee training exclusively with manual processes can result in missed opportunities to increase efficiency, human error in identifying certification requirements and lack of accountability in tracking responsibilities.
Automating employee training processes helps you:
- Keep teams updated: Lack of visibility is a problem in employee training. Regular, automated email reminders and notifications ensure employees and supervisors are kept in the loop about ongoing training requirements.
- Record training: Documentation is key to employee training success. Centralized and automated tracking makes it easy to assess training efforts quantitatively and qualitatively, showing managers and employees trends in effectiveness over time.
- Support document control: When integrated with document control, automated employee training ensures the workforce is kept up to date on how to manage important changes to document workflows.
Automating Processes with the Right Quality Management Software
In an ideal world, you’d be able to optimize quality management by automating as many processes as possible. The three starting points listed here are essential. Taking advantage of additional automation opportunities requires more sophisticated practices.
Automating quality processes beyond corrective action, document control and employee training comes down to your technology. Having quality management software that can automate more processes without adding complexity to your IT infrastructure makes all the difference.
ETQ helps organizations realize the business opportunities that quality creates. Our industry-leading Reliance 2019 SaaS solution features built-in best practices and best-in-class flexibility, with the software enabled to optimize the critical processes that drive excellence through quality.
To learn more about how ETQ can help you unlock the value of quality management software, contact us today. Alternatively, reach out for a demo and find out how to move through your quality journey.