An ASQ study found that for every dollar you invest in quality management software, you can expect an additional $6 in revenue, a $16 reduction in costs, and $3 in profits. That’s the kind of ROI that adds up quickly – but if you’re new to the idea of QMS software, it might sound too good to be true. This guide takes you through the basics of quality management, the role QMS system software plays, and the long list of benefits a QMS provides.
What is Quality Management Software?
Quality management system (QMS) software provides electronic tools that enable your business’ processes, procedures, and responsibilities for achieving quality throughout the organization. These tools are often referred to as an EQMS.
The goals of QMS software extend far beyond achieving end-product quality. Quality management software also helps your organization to improve areas like employee training, new product design, supply chain quality management, and regulatory compliance. With QMS software, your company can benefit from reduced risk of noncompliance, lower scrap and re-work costs, saved time on scheduling, planning, and reporting audits; reduced field failure costs with fewer defects, improved supplier quality, and less time managing nonconforming materials. By implementing quality management system (QMS) software, quality processes can be automated, and aligned with the business’s strategies and goals.
Related content: What is a QMS?
Understanding the Quality Journey
The quality journey is a progression that helps companies move from the automation of basic quality processes to achieving operational excellence and delivering genuine business transformation – building a strong quality foundation.
The first step on any quality journey is a cultural one. It requires viewing quality as a strategic business initiative instead of an operational function. After establishing the foundation for a successful quality program, companies can leverage it across the full product lifecycle and supply chain ecosystem to consistently uphold and exceed quality standards. Quality, compliance, and risk should always be at the core, making a QMS a vital tool.
Why Quality Management is Important
Quality management enables organizations to achieve greater consistency in the manufacturing process. It increases efficiency in processes, reduces waste, and improves the use of time and other resources. And, most importantly, quality management helps improve customer satisfaction. A study by FirstInsight.com found that 53% of consumers rate quality as the most crucial factor in purchasing decisions, not price (at 38%).
Listen to Rob Gremley, CEO discuss why quality is the number one determinant for consumers choosing products.
Using quality management software unlocks opportunities for organizations to deliver the best possible product, gain a competitive edge and improve both the top and bottom lines. Poor quality can potentially have a negative impact on all parts of your business. These risks include:
- Lost revenue due to product delays
- High costs associated with excess waste and scrap, warranty claims and recalls
- Increased compliance costs
- Failed, time-consuming audits, with extensive actions to remediate negative findings
- Wasted time spent on managing document revisions, training employees, and tracking corrective actions
- Lack of visibility into supply chain quality and its impact on your products
- Customer dissatisfaction and a move to competitors
- Tarnished brand reputation and a loss of business valuation
- Potential business failure
Related content: The Benefits of Quality Management Software
Streamline Processes with Quality Management Software
Quality management software will streamline processes, reduce the cost of poor quality, improve compliance, provide greater visibility into the business, and unlock continuous improvement. Companies often begin with a QMS that is focused on automating document control, corrective action, audit management, employee training and nonconformance to achieve the most immediate impact. You want a QMS that has all the tools and processes to make your compliance easier and faster, and provides immediate value out of the box plus allows uncomplicated configurability and flexibility for your future needs.
A QMS should provide:
- Document control: You can centralize your documents and ensure a smooth change process.
- Corrective and preventive action (CAPA): This tracking allows you to manage problems more efficiently and trigger any necessary changes to documents, procedures, or quality requirements.
- Change management: You can have a single place to request changes, an automated process with business rules to approve changes based upon change type and scope. In addition, change management provides a mechanism to communicate and track the status of any actions to implement change (including revisions to documents related to that change).
- Employee training: These tools allow you to make sure all staff members have the necessary competence and awareness of policies and processes.
- Audit management: These capabilities help you verify that documented procedures are followed.
- Reporting and analytics: These tools make sense of all the data and provide a high-level picture of risk (also, you can easily access data at an auditor’s request).
- Root-Cause Analysis: This is the process of identifying the underlying cause of a problem using detailed analysis such as the “5 Whys” or “Fishbone” approach. Having this automated means issues can be flagged to ensure the problem is solved and does not recur.
Often, customers quickly move beyond the basic QMS building blocks and begin to use their QMS for ensuring supplier quality. This may involve allowing your suppliers direct controlled access to your QMS to ensure the highest level of supplied part quality on a sustained basis. Doing so enables near real time supplier corrective actions to take place, which should improve overall product quality and increase visibility into supplier performance.
Related content: How to Tell Your Boss You Need Quality Management Software
Prevent Risk with Enterprise Visibility
Enterprise visibility means having insight into the operations and risks associated with any business. Harnessing this power through quality management software means risks can be prevented, offering you real control.
This visibility offers many benefits to an organization, including:
- Rapid Response to Quality Events and Incidents: Automated reporting, means the appropriate people are alerted as soon as an event occurs, and that information is stored for analysis and continuous improvement. Users can also automate other reports based on the level of visibility they need into the different areas of the business.
- Breaking Down Barriers in Communication: Information can easily get lost due to human error and lack of communication, but enterprise-wide visibility means the data is always right in front of you.
- Managing Customer Complaints: Customer complaints can be very easily dealt with and if appropriate, fixed in the future by providing feedback directly to R&D.
What to Look for in Quality Management System Software
Remember, not all technology is created equal. The best quality management software solution should be capable of handling your current needs – while also adapting to your future needs.
Put simply, the way to determine whether a system is right for you is by:
- Thoroughly assessing the current situation
- Determining your business’s needs
- Evaluating all the options
Evaluating the right QMS for you takes time, and each business has its own needs, but some elements are essential for everyone. These include:
- Configuration: Configuring a system around your needs is a vital part of creating a future-proofed system that scales with your organization.
- Training and support: Make sure you choose a software system from a partner that offers training and ongoing support where necessary.
- Key features like reporting, integrations, tools, and compliance: Without these, you’re not actually managing the quality of your business. Be sure to choose a QMS that contains all the features your organization needs.
- Scalability: A strong, optimally configured QMS saves time and money – automatically helping a business to scale – and should grow and develop with your business and encourage that scalability.
Go Beyond Cost-Driven Quality Management to Adaptive, Data-Driven Performance
QMS are based on the idea that any process can cause defects in a product or service when handled by any business area. Therefore, a QMS should integrate and automate quality assurance processes across the full ecosystem.
A QMS drives quality throughout the organization and integrates the entire business by assuring quality in all stages of the product life cycle, including R&D, production, services, financial reporting, information technology, and marketing. The outcome is the end user customer or buyer is ultimately provided with superior quality, service, and value. Not only can world-class QMS help you meet your regulatory and compliance obligations, but it will also save your organization money in reduced scrap, rework, warranty, and recall expenses.
Major organizations worldwide are discovering and leveraging quality management software every day, and discovering how powerful the consistency and ongoing improvements are. GE Transportation (acquired by Wabtec in 2019) found, back in 2010, that it was experiencing serious quality problems wherein locomotives were reaching customers with failures. This issue cost the business $100 million each year, and the problem was that it didn’t know what the issue was or how to prevent it. So, the business implemented ETQ’s Reliance QMS and swiftly cut its quality costs by 35% while automating – and ultimately solving – its quality processes.
Elsewhere, pharma giant Johnson & Johnson desperately needed more business agility and compliance across its worldwide operations. ETQ was able to offer the business what it needed: a single, broadly capable, and flexible QMS. Now its processes are standardized and harmonized, and the QMS continues bringing previously-unseen benefits to the business.
Quality management software takes the vast and arduous task of quality management out of human hands and into the care of a configurable, automated system aligned with your business’s goals. It truly is a must for future-proofing your organization.
Considering quality management software for your business? Make sure you choose the right provider with our Advanced Quality Management Evaluation Guide.