Proving the value of a software investment takes a well-thought out approach from the beginning, one that starts well before an implementation and continues to measure its effectiveness over time. This becomes increasingly important when we discuss investments in Enterprise Quality Management Software (EQMS), where multiple business units, departments, and regions are all impacted.
As customers only become more demanding, supply chains more global, operating margins tighter, processes more complex, and so on, EQMS suites as well as specific functionalities are quickly becoming a cornerstone of effective quality management. The technology brings together traditionally disparate quality process data and content, transforming the way quality is managed in global organizations.
Although the benefits of EQMS are vast, without an effective way to communicate them, executive support for additional EQMS-related investments and initiatives can easily fall by the wayside. If you’re trusted with a software budget, it’s critical you have a plan in place to validate your decision and even help you attain additional budget for the future. Below is LNS Research’s 5-step plan for doing just that.
1. Benchmark Current Performance in Quality Metrics that Span across the Value Chain
It’s difficult to get a realistic perspective on where you stand without measuring your current performance and then benchmarking it both internally as well as against industry averages. Critical metrics to focus on include the cost of quality, overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), rate of successful new product introductions, product compliance, and on-time and complete shipments.
2. Identify Gaps in Performance and Technology as Compared to Industry Peers
After benchmarking performance, it’s vital that you put together a cross-functional team to dive deeper into those metrics and then identify which operational areas require more resources to get them up to par. This exercise should help to uncover corresponding metrics and technology gaps. For instance, after drilling down into OEE, which is a function of quality, availability, and efficiency, the cross-functional team may conclude the following:
- There’s no way to easily communicate changes to a standard operating procedure at the global level
- Manual corrective and preventive action (CAPA) management is hurting quality more than it’s helping
- The time it takes to identify, communicate, and resolve a manufacturing non-conformance is having a significant negative impact on manufacturing efficiency
- Current visibility into supplier activities is costly and harming first-time quality in the manufacturing environment
3. Identify and Implement Complementary EQMS Capabilities
With a detailed list of gaps in hand, it’s time to determine which EQMS functionalities will provide the most benefits. You can implement a comprehensive suite of EQMS functionality. Alternately, an approach that’s often taken is to implement specific functionalities that will provide the most benefit and then scale the solution over time as it proves its value. Typical functionalities to consider may include:
- Compliance Management
- Supplier Quality Management
- Risk Management
- Statistical Process Control
- Failure Mode and Effects Analysis
- Complaint Handling
4. Document Improvements
With the solution in place, it’s important to keep a close eye on the improvements delivered. This can be done by comparing your initially benchmarked metrics performance with your current and future performance. Where possible, associate specific improvements to the specific functionalities implemented. If you can prove that instituting a formal risk management program and automating parts of it with EQMS helped to improve the product compliance metrics, additional budget for building out that capability will be easier to secure.
5. Enable a Continuous Improvement Environment
The task of quality management is never complete, and neither is benchmarking. You can enable an environment of continuous improvement by measuring performance and setting increasingly higher goals over time. Market leaders understand this. In the face of today’s tight competition, there’s always room for improvement, and with advancements in processes and technology that bar will only rise higher.
Those are our thoughts on justifying an investment in quality management software. Please share your own in the comments section below or tweet to me directly @m_littlefield.