From risk and compliance to business operations and new projects, quality management touches on almost every part of your organization.
Whether you’re trying to meet ISO standards and industry regulations, or you’re implementing business strategy, the right quality management software (QMS) will significantly extend your data-management capabilities.
The questions is, with so many different quality management frameworks, tools, and implementations out there, how do you decide what’s right for your business? We see five key areas that will transform the way a quality management system supports your organization.
A QMS should easily integrate with your business, systems, and employees. One of the main issues with introducing new software is that it locks you into carrying out certain tasks in a specific way. This can increase administrative overhead, create duplication of effort, drive up frustration in your workforce, and make it difficult to integrate with other systems.
That’s why the right QMS should fit your business processes, and not the other way around. This flexibility applies to several areas:
Data capture, forms, and querying — how your business collects data from customers, employees, partners, suppliers, and other parts of the organization. A QMS should be able to emulate existing data capture.
Workflows and processes — how your business gets stuff done. Whether that’s strategic, operational, or project-based, a QMS should be easy to use across all enterprise processes.
Reports — how your business shares information and supports decision making through data. A QMS should integrate with your current data sources and reporting systems.
Business rules — how your business manages policies, processes, and procedures. A QMS should be able to adapt to all your business logic, controls, inputs, processing, and outputs.
Look and feel — how easy software is to navigate and use. A QMS should be intuitive and provide an excellent user interface and experience.
A QMS should easily connect processes, data, and insight. Traceability is about how data and information flow through an organization, how they’re identified and managed, and the actions they lead to. A good QMS will link together all of these areas to provide an end-to-end understanding of underlying causes, impacts, and outcomes.
A customer complaint is logged in your call center system.
The QMS identifies and mines this data.
The complaint is linked to a risk assessment, investigation, or other restorative initiative.
Corrective actions are created and assigned in the QMS.
Actions are implemented and monitored to track the impact on the initial complaint and related issues.
The end-to-end process becomes a metric for early identification and resolution of future issues.
A QMS should enforce ISO standards. Businesses are increasingly focused on risk-based thinking, early identification, and mitigating actions. The various ISO standards and frameworks are a powerful way to drive this thinking throughout the organization. Some recommended actions:
Decide on the right risk measurement framework. There are several tools and best practices to help score, rationalize, and prioritize risks. A QMS will ensure a consistent approach to all risks, no matter their source or context.
Identify risks that could impact performance. The right QMS will allow you to identify trends and early indications of issues that could have a substantial impact on operations.
Build risk mitigation plans and defining actions. You don’t want to wait for a risk to happen before dealing with it. A QMS can help you identify likely risks and build action plans to minimize the impact and deal with the root cause.
A QMS should integrate flawlessly with your other business systems. A good QMS will work across all your systems, processes, and data no matter how that software operates or where that information is stored. This applies to:
Both internal and external systems.
How to look up, identify, and consolidate data across multiple systems.
Transferring information between the QMS and other systems.
Interaction with other systems for standard business operations.
A QMS should enhance reports and business insight. Finally, because quality management produces a lot of data, it’s vital to present that data so it’s easy to understand and act on. A QMS should:
Quickly query records and present relevant information.
Make it easy to identify trends, thresholds, and other KPIs.
Automatically run reports, whether they are scheduled or ad hoc.
Report on any quality-based process.
Make reporting easy to create, manage, and distribute.
Surface important data to drive business insight and decision making.
Remember that when you’re looking for the right QMS, you want it to align with as many of these principles as possible. That will make quality management in your business much easier, and can help to drive business success and regulatory needs.
Tim Lozier is director of product strategy at EtQ.
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