Selecting an enterprise quality management software (EQMS) solution can be a daunting process because not all solutions are created equal. To top off the complexity, most quality management professionals may only be part of a QMS software selection perhaps once or twice in an entire career. Getting the best possible solution that not only fits your organization’s needs today but has the flexibility to grow and evolve as demands change, can be career defining (or limiting) depending on the outcome.
As a leading EHSQ software provider, the team at Cority has seen the whole spectrum of project approaches. These approaches range from the tactical, bandage / knee-jerk compliance fix to the strategic, long-term operational excellence driven, quality-first transformation. All implementations are valid and come to some fruition, but success is not an accident with a Quality Management Software solution … no matter where an organization is on the software project spectrum.
The Quality Management Software Project Spectrum
Looking at the vendor offerings and seeing what might help solve the immediate pain from a single event. If a Quick-Fix can be found, management will try to make a case to acquire and implement a solution. A key downfall to this approach is the cyclical nature of being confronted with challenges and repairing them with quick fixes without movement towards an inclusive solution.
A Strategic Project is one that has the full support of quality leadership, is woven into the bigger picture and often is an operational excellence program addressing most / all quality management and compliance processes in a single EQMS hub.
Typically, a project will lie somewhere between the extremes. The further towards the strategic end, the more likely the best-fit solution is identified and funding can be secured. Here, adoption shifts from an initial push to a momentum-building pull by stakeholders. Regardless of the drivers and nature of approach taken, there are critical elements which must be satisfied, no matter what, for the selection of an EQMS solution to yield desired results quickly and into the long-term.
The Top 5 Elements for Quality Management Software Success
- As part of your EQMS project, plan for the opportunity to re-evaluate processes and desired behaviors.
- Map out the support required to successfully acquire and implement your EQMS solution. Improve your chances by clearly and concisely articulating how others, especially IT and Leadership can become ‘vested’ in the long-term strategic value (beyond solving the potentially immediate challenge you are facing). Make a specific case and involve key users in any selection activities. Ultimately, user adoption will make or break your project.
- Never ignore or put off the business case. Investing time identifying the right solution and engaging stakeholders without an appropriate case detailing how the bottom line is improved has the potential to stall the project. Begin with basic cost-avoidance initially with somewhat conservative numbers -this first step will lead to success.
- Demonstrate your ability to think strategically by considering the value EQMS delivers for other departments, plants, business units and regions. Your initial scope is likely limited, however, your chances of leader buy-in are much improved by putting yourself in your peers’ position at other facilities. Focus on the benefits of organization-wide collaboration, harmonization and risk management.
- Always think beyond compliance. The immediate impact may be that rigorous and robust processes supported by technology reduce compliance challenges and protect the business. Be sure to reference many other tangible benefits like reduced costs due to better visibility in supplier charge-backs and greater agility in new product introductions (NPIs). These points truly support growth and are reasonable expectations from your EQMS. It is also a great time to develop your risk-based thinking and utilize EQMS to support your processes.
The first, and probably most important thing to consider, is that the technology alone does not and cannot guarantee success. Automating inefficient, weak processes with a technical solution is a veneer that will sooner or later wear through. Thus, even a tactically driven project must consider the people involved and the behavior that is sought to be promoted and adopted – often referred to as ‘quality culture’. Then there’s the quality process/compliance mandate itself, the process should be evaluated, and where appropriate, re-engineered or improved. The technology, even for a single process, must improve control, visibility and efficiency.
Most importantly, it must stand the best possible chance of adoption by those who are required to use it. This includes high-frequency users as well as occasional users. Users include those who should, with ease, derive actionable insight in addition to having confidence in the rigor of the technology and process. Involvement of the technical or IT team is a crucial element of any selection process.
Experience demonstrates that the later the line of business (LoB) team engage IT, the more likelihood that serious delays may be encountered. Thankfully IT is more engaged with LoB than ever, but ignoring the contribution IT can make and the pitfalls this group can navigate early can invoke serious peril or in the worst of cases unfounded blocking. This element is known to be the cause of long-term inaction and ranks as high as lack of a solid business case as a reason for failure.
Select the Right Quality Management Software
To learn more about what to consider when evaluating software solutions, download our free QMS RFP Template to learn the right questions to ask the vendors you’re evaluating: