Implementing quality management software feels like a pass/fail test. You either get value from it—or you don’t, and you’re back to square one. And if you’re the person who chose that new system, the stakes can be high. Unfortunately, many manufacturing organizations don’t see value from their quality software simply because they don’t know how to implement it in their specific organization.
But you can make your quality project a success—and see improvement throughout your processes, in your final products, and up and down your supply chain. To get on the right path, start with these best practices:
- Take a step back
- Define your goals
- Start small
- Remember quality is a process
Step Back: See the Bigger Picture
The benefit of having an established manufacturing process is that it’s repeatable. You set it up to run, and when it works, you duplicate it…copy and paste. That’s not a bad thing. But it tends to enable us to focus only on individual pieces of a process—while forgetting about the bigger picture.
When you’re in a manufacturing enterprise, it’s important to take a step back and look at the overall picture—to see how all the parts flow together. A purpose-built quality management platform like Enact® by InfinityQS® enables you to do just that. Two features make this big-picture view possible: the process model and the data repository.
A process model enables you to build out a visual representation of a process, step by step. It’s reusable, expandable, helps you error-proof your processes, and centralizes and simplifies the ways in which you manage your operations.
When you map out your entire process in this way, you see your production from a bird’s-eye view. Then you can discuss, plan, and implement where you collect data and why. And your teams can communicate better by having a visual reference for the various components of your operation.
InfinityQS quality management solutions give you the ability to look at data across your entire enterprise in summary form—that is, in aggregate. This enables your quality pros and process improvement teams to mine the data and uncover the greatest opportunities for improvements in your operations.
The key is that the software gathers data from many disparate sources across your operations, then unifies it in a single, common format. Then, when the time comes to analyze and report on it, all that data from across your enterprise is easily rolled up and summarized—ready to become information that you can use to improve business performance.
The unified data repository is what enables the most transformative benefits you can glean from our quality management solution.
Define Your Goals: What Does “Value” Mean to You?
No manufacturing organization adds new software just to have new software. So, before you install a new system, it’s important to define your goals and understand what you want to get out of it.
“Because a customer requires it” is not a goal. That may be the reason you looked for the solution; but quality management software can bring extended value to your operations. Some outcomes you can expect include:
- Improving processes
- Reducing defects
- Increasing customer satisfaction
- Building loyalty for the brand
These outcomes deliver measurable, company-wide value. So put them on a list. Then, with those big goals in mind, narrow your focus.
Starting Out Small: Pinpoint Just One Line
The first 30 days of your deployment is a make-or-break time for your system. Either you have results and are allowed to continue, or you do not have results and the project dies.
You can’t let it die.
If you try to deploy your software across all your lines and collect all the data all at once, you’re inviting risk. A limited initial deployment allows you to:
- Narrowly define your improvement goals
- Get to know the software and its capabilities
- Involve a small team of knowledgeable stakeholders
- Collect data that’s specific to your goal
- Rapidly understand the insights you get from that data
- Easily demonstrate your success to others in your organization
When you start small, you can accomplish all of this—from configuration to data collection to reporting—in your first 30 days.
Then, as a bonus, when you scale up—and include another line, or another process—you’ve seen the software in action and will be able to confidently expand the deployment.
Standardization: Everyone and Every Process on the Same Page
The best results for enterprise-wide reporting will always come from a standardized system. Standardization makes deployment easier; it makes reporting better; it ensures consistency and high quality; and it enables you to make better decisions.
For many organizations, standardizing across lines, processes, and plants seems impossible—especially when you have multiple locations. But when your quality management solution centralizes all your data in the cloud, you instantly erase many of the barriers to standardization.
With a centralized solution, you can standardize:
- Naming conventions—to ensure parts, features, processes, and more are the same for every plant, department, and shift
- Measurements—so you can ensure everyone has the same understanding of the metrics that matter and how to collect them
- Procedures—so everyone shares and uses best practices across operations
Best of all, you can standardize how you talk about performance—and understand where and how to make improvements that will benefit the company’s bottom line.
When Quality Is a Process, Value Grows Over Time
All of these best practices—stepping back, knowing your goals, starting small, and standardizing—are part of a process. When you practice this process, you improve your success with your quality solution right from the start.
But more important, you continuously improve your quality and processes. Instead of worrying about quality issues and constantly putting out fires, you’ll be managing your quality and viewing it as an asset—a differentiator that sets you apart from the competition.
Ready to make quality your greatest competitive advantage? Learn how InfinityQS quality management solutions empower you to use the data you already have to optimize quality, processes, and compliance.