As we step into 2018, let's consider three predictions for what the new year will bring in the quality management world.

Prediction No. 1: The Pace of Automation Accelerates

A good quality management system is highly dependent on the alignment of people, processes, and technology. But failure at one or more points of this triad can have serious repercussions. That’s where automation can help. Many companies already employ an automated quality management system that can route quality events to the right stakeholders as they enter the system.

But in 2018, companies will invest even more in automation by creating deeper integrations between their QMS and other business critical systems. Think of the possibilities when having your CRM tip off your QMS to a rise in customer complaints. Your QMS could launch into corrective action faster than having to rely on any one person to capture the event.”

Prediction No. 2: Products Will Start to Manage Their Own Life Cycles

Smart devices have become ever more pervasive over the last several years in both the consumer and commercial space. For end users, that often translates to creature comforts like asking aloud for the weather report, instantly playing one’s favorite album, or re-ordering laundry detergent when it starts running low. But for manufacturers, smart devices are a trove of information that can lead to higher quality products and untapped revenue streams.

Consider the case of C-RAD, a rising provider of advanced radiation therapy solutions based out of Sweden.  According to a recent press release, the company plans to, “integrate autonomous product feedback into their quality management system, allowing the company to predict when there is a high probability of product or component failure.” This positions the company to both service devices out in the field and prevent similar issues from reoccurring.”

Prediction No. 3: Quality as a Culture Will Become the Norm

For decades, quality departments have ensured compliance with regulatory agencies within the markets their companies sell to. Yet amid the increase in regulations, a paradox arose: the number of drug GMP warning letters actually doubled between 2015 and 2016. In fact, a recent article by Jill Wechsler at notes that, “FDA officials continue to be alarmed about violative production practices and inadequate quality control at drug outsourcers, as seen in a rise in warning letters and citations to contractors and their pharma clients.”

In 2018, quality as a culture will become the norm as companies seek to rout out adverse events that can affect their bottom-line and consumer safety. That means that companies will place a greater premium on quality, reinforcing its position as a guiding principle throughout the organization and among its external partners. And in support of that, more companies will look to put tools and technologies in place that empower this culture of quality.”