When running a manufacturing company, small changes can result in massive cost savings. Not long ago, United Airlines redesigned its inflight magazine to weigh an ounce less than the previous issues. Annually, that single ounce per magazine saved the company $290,000 in fuel and operating costs.
This perfectly illustrates a paradigm shift within competitive markets; gone are the days of relying on the old company adage, ‘this is how it’s always been done.’ Business leaders now ask, ‘how can it be done smarter, faster, and easier?’
As the digital age continues to evolve, businesses must seek ways to innovate, automate and optimize. And while many cutting-edge companies might happily embrace the newest tech related to their specific industry, they are often mired in the Mesozoic Era in other vital aspects of their business, especially when it comes to their Quality Management System (QMS). They may have automated top-of-the-line manufacturing processes and yet still cling to pencil, paper, and spreadsheets for their QMS, especially with the practice of document control and management.
Does your company still rely on paper, spreadsheets, or SharePoint solutions? If so, it’s time to evolve. You need to leave the old way of documenting processes behind and embrace an integrated Quality Management System.
A quality management system is a formalized operating procedure that systematically documents critical processes and workflows to help a company achieve its specific company goals and quality objectives to ensure customer satisfaction. The purpose of such a system is not only to help organize and optimize business practices but to create a system that enables continuous improvement.
Quality goods or services make for happy customers. However, the quality in question can only maintain its integrity if it remains consistent across every facet of the organization. To that end, the ISO 9000 standard emphasized seven quality management principles:
Such standards dictate that a company must be able to do the following:
In the past, this was done using rudimentary document control and tracking instruments like excel spreadsheets and SharePoint — companies made do with the tools at their disposal. This method, however, lives in the past. And it’s dying. Quickly.
Many companies that choose to use a paper-based ISO 9000-compliant (or other industry standards) QMS system, operate under the assumption that it’s affordable and efficient. But often, such an obsolete system adds to staff workload, creates inefficiencies, and costs the company more in the long run.
In 2012, the McKinsey Global Institute conducted a study seeking to highlight areas in which businesses could increase productivity by embracing new technologies. One of the biggest takeaways from the study was that “employees spend 1.8 hours every day—9.3 hours per week, on average—searching and gathering information. Put another way, businesses hire 5 employees but only 4 show up to work; the fifth is off searching for answers, but not contributing any value.”
A growing company will have to develop hundreds—if not thousands—of procedures to control quality operations. If this is done with a paper-based or spreadsheet-based QMS, it will require thousands upon thousands of documents. On such a large scale, just the document control process alone becomes incredibly unwieldy; reviewing documents, making revisions, filing records, and storing paper and spreadsheet files end up requiring a considerable amount of time and effort to manage.
Paper-based and spreadsheet-based documentation and workflows need to be replaced by QMS software to increase visibility and communication between departments, improve operational efficiencies, and automate such processes as:
Implementing an integrated QMS can increase a company’s efficiency, accuracy, throughput, and improve product and service quality by:
As a result, leaving paper in the past for any quality-management need allows a company to begin to leverage its quality programs to create significant and sustainable business advantages.