A good quality management system (QMS) provides a valuable framework around which your organization can build consistently high-value products and services that meet or exceed your customers’ expectations. Unfortunately, we often encounter people in virtually every workplace who take a negative view of quality management, – usually because it was poorly implemented at a company where they previously worked. To help those people get past their hesitancy about QMS, it can be useful to zero in on some of the myths that surround quality management and set the record straight on how a good QMS should work.
By presenting information in this way, it’s often possible to overcome those negative perceptions. For team members who have lingering doubts, the process might take a bit longer, but with an effective and efficient QMS in place, you can inevitably win them over. Let’s examine five of the most common myths about quality management systems.
MYTH #1: QMS creates extra work
The single biggest complaint people have about quality management is that it creates extra work. Well-defined quality processes inevitably involve documenting procedures, measuring results, performing inspections, and routine audits. While it is certainly true that these kinds of procedures consume valuable staff time, they also serve some very important purposes. Collectively, these practices lead to work that is consistent, effective, and efficient.
There is an old saying that is popular among the US Navy Seals: “Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.” The message here is clear; when actions are well planned and deliberate, they tend to be well executed and effective. The same principle applies to processes and behaviors in the workplace. A good quality management system reduces overall effort by preventing mistakes, eliminating the need for rework, and establishing efficient, repeatable processes.
With the right QMS software technology, it’s even possible to reduce the amount of work even further by streamlining quality management processes. If your employees have had negative experiences with labor-intensive paper-based systems in the past, they may be in for a pleasant surprise when they are presented with mobile apps for data collection, automated workflows, and other tools that naturally boost productivity.
Myth #2: QMS processes stifle innovation
Another common theme is that quality management tends to suppress innovation. This stems from the notion that QMS is fundamentally about imposing a rigid set of rules and processes on the workforce, eliminating flexibility in human judgment from the picture altogether.
In fact, quality management seeks to strike a balance between a structured disciplined approach to work activities and the flexibility required to innovate and improve. QMS actually promotes and fosters continuous improvement, providing a platform for innovation. By channeling new ideas through a structured process, companies can foster an environment in which innovation can flourish.
myth #3: QMS is just a customer-mandated necessity
More organizations than ever before are recognizing the value of effective quality management programs. This is evidenced by the number of companies demanding that their vendors be certified under widely recognized standards such as ISO 9001.
Although your largest customers may indeed require such certification, quality management has proven its value over the past half-century and beyond, regardless of whether or not any external party is asking for it. Many of us remember the temporary decline of the US automobile industry in the 1970s and the corresponding growth in market share by Japanese automakers. Their intense focus on quality management is now legendary. When US automakers jumped on the quality bandwagon, their market share rebounded.
A good QMS can save time and money by helping your organization prevent mistakes, avoid potential liability, and ensure that you are serving the needs and expectations of your customers.
Myth #4: QMS requires large amounts of paperwork
An effective quality management system is necessarily driven by data. Historically, that has required some relatively labor-intensive data collection processes, followed by data entry and analysis. Quality programs typically call for documentation of quality standards, procedures, defects, and root causes. Although this can sound like a lot of effort, – most quality management experts advise against making these kinds of documents and systems any more complicated than they need to be.
The very notion of paperwork, though, is outdated. Modern QMS software enables stakeholders across the organization to capture data collected in the field or from sensors and devices that require little or no human intervention. It enables cross-functional communication using collaborative online tools, with searchable text, user permissions, and other functionality that helps users to get at the information they need with relatively little effort.
Modern QMS software also provides automated workflows that streamline the process of moving information to the people who need to see it or act upon it. When a non-conformity requires further investigation, for example, it can automatically be routed to the person responsible for taking the next action. With the right systems in place, paperwork can virtually be a thing of the past.
Myth #5: QMS is a net cost to your organization
Finally, we come to the biggest myth of all, – that quality management ultimately costs the company money. We’re not saying that QMS is free, – but rather that it generates net benefits to the bottom line. Numerous studies (such as this one and this one) have shown that companies will spend far less in preventing a problem than in dealing with it after the fact. If you have any doubt about that, just consider the old adage “Measure twice, cut once”. It’s virtually always easier and less expensive to avoid problems in the first place. A good quality management program and help you achieve that.
Quality management professionals have established a body of knowledge for quantifying the cost of quality (COQ) and comparing it to the cost of poor quality (COPQ) to arrive at a net benefit from quality programs. Companies can increase customer satisfaction (which in turn usually drives higher sales), reduce re-work and scrap, decrease returns and service calls, improve safety, and reduce liability. That adds up to some pretty substantial savings, resulting in higher profits.
If your organization wants to drive more profit to the bottom line, investing in proven quality management technology is a good place to start. At Intellect, we provide highly configurable QMS software that fits the way you work, automating and streamlining quality processes to make life easier for you and your employees. To find out just more, contact us for a free demo.