10 Best Practices for QMS Implementation

quality management softwareQuality management software can provide companies with an effective means to meeting customer quality while also improving workflow, organization, and overall company sustainability. However, as with most software and technology interfaces, results are often only as good as the developer, the user, and the method by which the software and its components are implemented and integrated into the company.

Understanding the most common mistakes of quality management software rollouts can improve a company’s chances of success as well as the overall acceptance of new programs, processes, and procedures related to the QMS.

#1—Starting with the Software

Behind the machines, spreadsheets, dashboards, and interfaces, there are real people—your people. This is where all quality management software programs start and end, and it should take priority over the roll out phase. Failure to recognize as much could create chaos and confusion for employees as well as the quality management software programs and the documents and processes they control.

Get it Right at the Human Level:

While every company will have different needs, there are a few things that nearly all companies can put into practice when it comes to successfully introducing humans to the new quality management system software.

  1. Explain the change and why it is necessary; focus on the benefits of the new system, such as improvement in how they carry out their day-to-day tasks.
  2. Leave communication lines open so that employees can address problems and concerns in the days, weeks, and months prior to, during, and after the rollout of a quality management software program.
  3. Implement training programs that not only teach employees how to use quality management software, but will also teach them how to recognize and monitor for their own errors as well as common software problems.

#2—Implementing Software without Proper Planning

No quality management software can be effectively implemented with the “plug-and-play” mentality. In fact, it is for this very reason that many companies end up missing out on potential benefits of their new software program. However, the problem does go much further than simply unrealized potential. Companies that fail to properly plan prior to implementing software are at risk for loss of trust or profits, poor performance, and an influx of complaints.

Tips for Effectively Planning for QMS Implementation:

  1. Analyze data and determine clear targets for cost, quality, delivery, and service.
  2. Discuss targets with colleagues, experts, personnel, and software supplier to determine if additional changes should be made to QMS processes.
  3. Create a timeline that allows for flexibility regarding when the system will be fully up and running.
  4. Be transparent and communicate with all staff involved in the implementation process, as well as those that will be directly affected by the new system.

#3—Outsourcing Software Implementation

While input from outside professionals during the rollout of your company’s new software can be key to success, under no circumstances should a company outsource the implementation process completely. Not only does this take away from company ownership of the program’s outcome, it also hinders the company’s ability to manage itself down the road.

This creates the exact opposite of what your company is trying to achieve—transitioning from a reactive management to a preventative one. Reduce the risk of this occurring by having all personnel, particularly management, participate in the implementation process.

Who to Include in Software Rollout:

  1. Management
  2. Key personnel responsible for maintaining or updating software
  3. Software supplier
  4. Professionals that may give insight on how to better implement the new QMS program

#4—Aligning Business with Software:

Quality management software systems are designed to increase your company’s profitability and production. It is meant to be customized and molded to meet the specific needs of employees and customers of your business . . . not the other way around.

Too many businesses have tried to adapt to the software management system instead of using it to best suit their own needs. Unfortunately this leads to chaos, a skewed sense of mission and purpose within the company, and a loss of trust at the consumer level.

Getting Your Software to Work for You

  1. Go back to your clearly defined goals—what is it that you want your software program to do? Where will it provide the most benefit to your company? Where are the performance gaps within the company? How much of the workload would you like the program to do?These are all important questions when implementing QMS.
  2. Know who your company’s dedicated supplier representative is so that when problems or changes need to be made, there is no confusion about what the end-goal is.
  3. Document training needs as well as any prototype, pre-launch, or production phase tools and resources that are needed from your supplier. Discuss these tools and resources during the contract phase to ensure that you have everything you need, right from the start.

#5—Failing to Create a Change Management System

Whether it is the initial rollout of your company’s quality management system, improving a certain process or function, or the long-term sustainability of your QMS, companies need to implement effective change management systems that can be used to create a change within the company. Training, skill building and development, communication, and breaking down barriers between departments can all be helpful ways to improve success.

Handling Change in the Workplace:

Many people fear change, either because it disrupts their daily lives or they fear their position may become obsolete. Address fears of change and gain support by creating an open environment where employees can ask questions and voice concerns.

#6—Trying to Make Change Happen Too Quickly

While it would probably be nice to go from manual to completely automated and integrated within the first few days of a QMS implementation, the reality is that’s not going to happen. In fact, a large portion of companies have failed in their pursuit to fully integrated quality management systems because they attempted to rollout too quickly.

Run a Successful Rollout:

  1. Use the SRRPS Change Management framework.
  2. Set flexible deadlines.
  3. Don’t be afraid to conduct additional pilot tests, when necessary.
  4. Be willing to kill a project if it isn’t working.
  5. Have an exit plan in place if the software program no longer meets your needs later on down the road.

#7—Lack of Communication

This could apply to a number of communication errors, but in this context we’re looking more specifically at a failure to break down barriers between departments and individuals. Even though only one area of the company may be affected by the rollout process, it is important to keep other employees in the loop that will be affected later on down the road. It’s also important to ensure that all employees responsible for implementing parts of the software program meet and discuss successes and failures on a regular basis.

Developing the Quality Management Team:

Anyone responsible for implementing, measuring, or reporting progress on the new system should be considered a part of the quality management team. These individuals are the most likely to spot potential problems within the current system, or with new systems that will later be added or developed.

#8—The Use of Jargon, Slogans, Mottos, or other Buzz Words

The reality is, while you may understand what you’re talking about, employees may not. Companies that develop mottos, slogans, or use buzz words will unfortunately see a disconnect at the employee level. This is because jargon, slogans, and mottos don’t hold any real weight for the employees involved. In order to improve processes, functions, procedures and policies, there needs to be clearly defined goals, objectives, and targets that are related and relevant to their positions.

Improving Employee Compliance:

While it is true that quality managers do not always have authority over their quality management team, you can effectively improve commitment of individual team members through the use of “employee contracts”. Not only does this give the employee a sense of responsibility, it also ensures there is a written agreement supporting the project with a record of management approval.

#9—Not Holding Internal Audits

External audits are important, but quality management software programs give the opportunity to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to following procedures, quality standards, and customer satisfaction. That’s why the systems were built in the first place! As an added benefit, companies that conduct inner audits experience reduced loss, fewer customer complaints, and higher quality products – all with a better bottom line.

Understanding QMS Limitations:

No software program can guarantee absolute product quality—and that’s exactly why internal audits are a necessary part of the equation. With them, companies are more likely to prevent problems before they even start.

#10—Not Planning for Sustainability:

Implementing your quality management software program is just the beginning. As long as it is in place there is room for improvement, more ways to increase productivity or the bottom line, more ways to provide better integrated customer services, and more possibilities when it comes to reducing workload. But unless you plan for long-term sustainability, you may never know.

Taking it Back to the End Goal:

When you have a long-term goal, as well as little steps that the company can take to reach the end-goal, you increase motivation on all levels. Pair this with effective communication and you have a winning start to implementing quality management software.

No matter what your company’s unique needs are, CEBOS has what you need to create the right track to success. Talk to one of our professionals today to find out more by calling (810) 534-2222 or emailing info@cebos.com. You can also download our whitepaper, 10 Pitfalls to Avoid When Implementing QMS Software, and learn more in our blog posts, including 4 Questions and Answers That Could Improve the Success of your QMS Software Rollout and 5 Simple Strategies to Prepare Your Employees for QMS Software Rollout.