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Supplier Quality Management Takes Center Stage at ASQ

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When 2,500 quality management professionals come together from around the world, you learn a lot about what keeps them up at night. Aside from the common pillars of quality management – like operational excellence and process improvement – one topic powerfully resonated among attendees.

Supplier Quality Management (SQM) was the most popular topic among quality professionals at the ASQ 2017 World Conference. And there are many reasons why it’s giving them nightmares.

The Inherent Quality Risks of Global Supply Chains

Several highly-publicized quality-related events this past year highlighted the growing challenges of SQM.

Most notable was the spontaneously combusting Samsung Note 7, whose batteries were manufactured by a Samsung subsidiary and then by a third party vendor. Samsung's reputation suffered significant damage from the incident, not to mention the impact to its bottom-line.

This is every quality department’s worst nightmare, so it came as no surprise that the SQM sessions at ASQ were jam-packed with practitioners eager to learn how to avoid such a catastrophe befalling their organization.

Using the Latest Technology to Manage Today’s Supply Chains

As globalization and externalization barrel forward, more and more companies are facing the challenge of managing an extensive network of international suppliers. This setup poses various risks around performance, demand management, and implementation. These risks are exacerbated by the use of outdated on-premise quality systems that silo departments and external partners.

Today’s quality systems need to enable real-time collaboration between all parties participating in the production of products and services. With quality management software (QMS) now offered in the cloud by some leading vendors, supplier collaboration is becoming easier. Cloud-based QMS enables companies to truly engage with their vendors real-time, ensuring quality events can be addressed immediately if and when they occur.

Looking Ahead

Coming out of the ASQ conference, I’m encouraged that SQM is at top of most companies’ agenda for 2017. After the energizing conversations we had at ASQ, we’re looking forward to hearing how companies implemented best in class SQM and the subsequent benefits at next year’s event.

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Mickey Landkof is a known expert in the field of quality management systems with over 25 years of experience in technical and sales engineering in highly regulated industries. For the last seven years, Mickey has worked with market-leading SaaS companies focused on quality management systems, environmental health and safety, and document management.