Contemporary Issues in Quality Management

Contemporary Issues in Quality Management

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Every business strives for quality, compliance, and continuous improvement of its manufacturing processes, but there are still those that are susceptible to the most common pitfalls associated with quality management.

Quality management is a key function in ensuring that organizations remain competitive and compliant. It impacts almost every aspect of your business, including revenue, labor costs, and brand reputation. With such high stakes, it is imperative that business owners and managers take the time to address quality management issues before they can turn into major problems. 

If you believe that your company can do more to address quality challenges effectively, you aren’t alone. Here are seven of the most common quality management issues companies typically experience, plus realistic ways to solve them. 

7 Quality Management Issues

1. Adopting Technology

Historically, businesses have used a combination of spreadsheets, paper files, shared drives, scanners, and emails to keep up with quality management. As new technology introduced the possibility for greater efficiency and visibility, many of these businesses never updated their quality management efforts.

This legacy set-up relies to a great extent on human input, which means a higher margin of error and heavier workloads. When dealing with the quality of your business’s services or products, errors should not be tolerated. In addition to errors, these old-fashioned quality management techniques are prone to inefficiency and risk, and they’re entirely reactive in nature.

Just because it has always been done a certain way does not mean it is still the best way. Businesses that do not adapt to the modern technological landscape are being left behind as competitors and peers move to modern, technology-driven solutions.

Cloud-based quality management software (QMS) can automate processes for a more efficient, streamlined, and error-free company-wide quality management effort. They will make your organization more agile and strategic by giving you the data to identify issues early and be proactive to improve quality. Unlike the spreadsheet and paper quality management systems of the past, modern quality management systems are continually updated and can grow with your company.

2. Siloing Quality Management

Having a single, centralized department responsible for the quality of the entire company is a major quality management issue in companies today. It creates the mentality that only one department is responsible for quality, not the employees working on the floor, managers of other departments, or even suppliers.

In a survey of over 750 executives, more than half said that their biggest quality management challenge was that quality was considered a department, not a company-wide responsibility.

It‘s time to realize that quality management cannot work on an island. It needs to be implemented companywide and built into the very culture of the business. Technology can extend quality processes, document control, training, and collaboration throughout the supply chain and manufacturing processes, so you can keep a closer watch over quality at every stage of the value creation process.

3. Making Quality Management Part of the Business Strategy 

Quality management is often not seen as a profit center because it does not design, produce, or sell products. Because of this mentality, many businesses have trouble seeing the value of allocating resources to quality management efforts.

In reality, quality management issues can have a massive impact on your company’s profits. Low-quality or inconsistent products can lose revenue, diminish brand equity, increase expenses, and reduce productivity.

Businesses that truly want to improve quality need to spend the time and money necessary to create a quality-centered company culture that permeates every aspect of the organization. In the end, if your company produces consistent, high-quality products, this can offer as much, if not greater, ROI than a new product line or more efficient manufacturing equipment.

If a business invests in employee development and training, this can improve quality throughout your company. Experienced employees can identify quality management issues before external auditors find them, which can save you money, time, and a hit to brand reputation.

A quality modernization expert can also teach you how to implement the best quality management practices and build a solid foundation for a new quality-focused culture.

4. Adapting to Highly Complex Supply Chains

Your brand quality is only as good as your supplier quality, and your team cannot be truly proactive unless it manages supplier qualification, training, and compliance. While that might not have been an issue with the small, localized supply chains of the past, in today’s global world, the complexity of modern supply chains is a current issue in quality management.

To keep track of dozens—if not hundreds— of suppliers all over the world is a difficult task. The use of spreadsheets and paper files only makes it harder. If a quality management issue is not addressed early and a product needs to be recalled, quality teams are typically held responsible for the consequences felt by customers, even if the issue originated with the supplier.

Technology can provide visibility and transparency across all suppliers to help you identify issues, no matter how complex your supply chain. Moreover, a QMS can flag the issues before they become bigger problems.

5. Staying Up to Date with  Quality Management System Trends 

It’s important for businesses to move fast to seize trends and capture new markets, but if you outpace your quality management system, it can cause major issues down the road. Before you begin production on a new product, you need to make sure that your quality management solution can keep up with the changes.

Businesses need to be agile and efficient if they are going to keep up in a dynamic marketplace, but it takes time to ensure that a new product is consistently compliant, safe, and high-quality. The faster you can perform quality checks, the quicker you can enter new markets and become more competitive.

Use technology to automate quality management processes. This will help your business adapt to market changes or capture niches more quickly than competitors while still limiting production issues.

Understand the 3 must-have components for effective QMS software to ensure your technology is up to date. 

6. Going Beyond Reactive Quality Management Practices

Once you find a quality management process that works for your business, it might be tempting to implement it and leave it alone—the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” mentality. Many businesses don’t take the time to analyze their quality management practices, instead simply allowing their current practices to operate until there is a major issue.

When an issue does happen, it results in overcorrection and overbuilding the area in which the issue occurred. These corrections fail to address the system as a whole. It is much cheaper and easier to perform regular oil changes than to replace the engine in your car every year. As it goes for cars, so too does it go for quality management.

Quality management is not meant to be static. It is meant to be a continual process. Be proactive and maintain an internal audit program to ensure compliance and to keep up with the ever-changing business landscape. What worked last quarter might not work this quarter. Create a quality management routine to help instill a quality-minded business culture as well.

7. Anticipating Quality Management Issues

Quality management is much more than just the department that holds up progress; it can help to save your organization time, resources, money, and brand reputation. With so much at stake, it’s important to utilize technology, create a quality-based culture, and regularly audit your quality management processes to keep up with your ever-growing business. Avoid these common quality management issues to keep your business running smoothly.

The key to surviving in the dynamic manufacturing landscape is to ensure that your quality management solutions are flexible and efficient. Streamlined, technology-based solutions promote increased agility and stronger collaboration across your entire team—including suppliers—to create a quality-centered culture that can grow along with your business. 

Veeva Can Help You Solve Your QMS Challenges

If you are experiencing challenges in your Quality Management system, a high quality modern software system can be a critical component of your solution. Veeva QualityOne is an intuitive, easy-to-use cloud-based quality management and document control solution committed to helping businesses streamline operations and build customer loyalty through quality.

Enhance your quality management, training, and HSE strategies with Veeva's QualityOne. Learn more about its powerful features on our product page.

Updated on January 24, 2021