No doubt exists in my mind that implementing an overhaul of an enterprise-wide quality management system is difficult; “time-consuming” is the descriptor I have read more often than not. Negative descriptions abound when researching the best practices for sound quality management systems. I also read the words “tedious”, “cumbersome” and “frustrating” in far too many horror stories of the worst-case scenarios of deploying new quality management strategies.
IQS can make implementing quality management software easier. I ponder the root causes of such pessimistic attitudes toward quality management systems. For many companies, quality initiatives are without question the most critical value-added asset; others view quality management as a necessary evil; a mere means to gain a regulatory and compliance certification. My instincts sense that the heart of the matter lies in the middle of these two extremes. I presume that the average mid-sized process or discrete manufacturer most likely does not maintain an IT department with sufficient knowledge to seamlessly deploy an out-of-the-box quality management solution.
The value of expert consultants is apparent even to cost-averse senior management personnel. Configuration alone can create myriad unforeseen issues over the long term. Rather than providing solutions to quality management problems, poorly configured systems can potentially lock in inefficiencies, which utterly destroy ROI. Successful quality management (i.e. consistent improvement) hinges on more than the complexity of software’s code.
Too often, senior management underestimates the human element of implementing quality management systems. After all, software systems can only perform within the parameters set by people. Artificially intelligent software systems would surely make the task of integrating new quality management solutions into ERP and MES systems much easier but until software can think for itself, people are the most important asset when implementing quality management solutions.
I can point to the requirements contained in ISO standards that place the onus of quality assurance on management personnel, but I would be wasting my time. If the answers to the human resource challenges of implementing large-scale database migrations were included in ISO standards, no manufacturer would ever need to consult a single expert. The goal of all manufacturers should be to develop a culture of quality management that touches all departments, including finance, legal and administration.
Manufacturers would be wise to place the right quality management tools in the hands of employees who appreciate the power of the systems at their disposal. Quality initiatives can originate at the top levels of management or the machine operator on the shop floor. One of the most underrated aspects of integrated quality management systems is the software’s ability to facilitate. If an organization wishes, today’s quality management software can allow employees to facilitate quality issues directly from a mobile device.
The quality management challenges facing the general manufacturing industry are certainly immense, but not impossible to overcome. Manufacturers would do well to leverage the potential of today’s quality management software to ease the frustrations of the employees who directly impact cost of quality. By doing so, companies can turn quality management into a truly value-added activity as opposed to a frustrating endeavor for employees.