In today’s globally competitive environment, any good leader knows that a seamlessly integrated set of quality processes and data sources can facilitate the effective management of quality. Of course, knowing is only half of the battle. The manufacturing industry is replete with companies producing complex products every day that still rely on outdated quality technology to deliver them profitably, on time, matching customer specifications, and within compliance. An important consideration is whether or not these companies are the exception or the norm.
Based on a recent survey of over 500 quality executives and senior leaders, we found that 47% reported a disconnected quality IT portfolio as a main roadblock for realizing strategic objectives. Interestingly, this data can be juxtaposed alongside data supporting the rising adoption of Enterprise Quality Management Software (EQMS) and the benefits companies are enjoying from its use. So with the research suggesting about a 50% chance that your quality systems are blocking the execution of your manufacturing strategy, which half are you in?
In this post, I’ll discuss several of the challenges with this quality IT disconnect, and how EQMS can transform your quality management efforts into a competitive advantage.
Challenges With a Disconnected Quality IT Architecture
With the complexities of today’s supply chains, processes, and products, a major challenge is achieving the necessary levels of communication and collaboration both within and between functional units. Unfortunately, the disconnected IT environments that many of today’s manufacturers deal with don’t easily facilitate these interactions. Rather, many face a wide range of data sources and systems that require considerable resources to connect.
Several key challenges stem from this disconnect:
- Difficulty optimizing key resources – people, processes, and technology – without extensive time and capital investments
- Limited visibility into metrics for measuring the effectiveness of and identifying areas for improvement for those resources
- Difficulty managing change across engineering or manufacturing
- Lack of harmonization of manufacturing and quality execution processes across sites
The Role of EQMS in Connected Quality IT
EQMS has changed the way manufacturers execute quality management functions and consume information. The solution delivers streamlined processes that can be standardized across the enterprise and managed from a central location. Delivered standalone, or as an extension of MOM, PLM, or ERP, today’s market-leaders are deploying enterprise-wide instance of EQMS functionalities such as corrective and preventive action (CAPA) management, audit management, and change management.
Through the standardization of these processes, organizations are benefiting from unprecedented levels of visibility into quality performance. For instance, having a single instance of CAPA across twenty facilities, a senior leader could quickly identify the number of open CAPAs, resolve rates, and so on. That leader may also be able to associate improvements to specific quality metrics such as overall equipment effectiveness or first pass yield to improvements in the CAPA process.
Arguably the most important characteristic of EQMS is its ability to break down many of the conventional silos or barriers for communication and collaboration between functional units. As depicted in the graphic above, in addition to acting as a centralized hub for managing quality, it actually facilitates the connection between disparate quality management efforts and data-sources in other enterprise systems.
Building a Competitive Advantage with EQMS
The most common benefits of EQMS come from the deployment of globally standardized processes. However, building a competitive advantage with the solution comes as you start to integrate these different quality processes. As shown in the graphic below, processes such as CAPA, risk management, and audit management have critical quality intelligence overlaps, and EQMS helps to capitalize on them.
While the above examples of integrated quality processes are ones that can be experienced in the manufacturing environment, some innovative market leaders are using EQMS to connect enterprise data sources and bridge the quality gap between different functional units. Prime examples include leveraging EQMS to streamline customer complaint data back to manufacturing and design or using it as a portal between procurement and design to include suppliers in design for quality initiatives.
Interestingly, at a time where the benefits to EQMS and an integrated quality management system are piling up, almost half the executives who took LNS Research’s quality management survey expressed having a disconnected IT environment that’s blocking the execution of their manufacturing strategy. If you’re on the wrong side of that 50%, it’s time to start exploring options with EQMS before close competitors build an advantage that’s too far ahead.
Matthew can be found on Google+.