We’ve written numerous articles over the past few months on the benefits of building a quality management system into operations. More and more, the average company is taking a quality-centric approach to making decisions. However, many market leaders are taking this a step further, leveraging the power of Enterprise Quality Management Software (EQMS) to infuse quality into every process and improve business performance.
EQMS solutions touch the entire value chain, acting as a platform for cross-functional collaboration and communication. Because EQMS so pervasively affects each area of business, it’s important to create a strategy for attaining the right solution as well as one for its user adoption and subsequent utilization.
A failed implementation is a significant waste of resources, especially in terms of time and capital, and it’s important to take the appropriate steps for mitigating the chance of this happening. In this blog, we’ll discuss the portion of EQMS strategy pertaining to selecting the right solution. Specifically, we’ll touch on three areas.
1. Identify Your Current Capabilities and Gaps
EQMS acts as an arena for cross-functional teams to work together to improve the total quality of each product delivered and to achieve operational excellence. Since the global solution touches as high as executives down the hierarchy to line workers, it’s imperative to have a team conduct interviews with employees from each rank and area of the value chain.
From these interviews, companies need to determine current quality management capabilities in terms of people, processes, and technology. Once this information is aggregated, the team should identify functional gaps and prioritize the areas of improvement they would like to attain with EQMS. Often at this stage it is also beneficial to start benchmark the company's Cost of Quality and determining what role EQMS may play in reducing that metric.
2. Compare Needs with the EQMS Solutions Market
After needs and areas of improvement have been targeted, it’s time to research the growing EQMS solutions market. Companies should conduct a complete analysis on the market in terms of functionalities, technology development platforms, technology delivery models, and industries and geographies served. With this analysis, a list of potential vendors can be narrowed down with attributes specific to your company’s situation.
3. Build a Plan and Make a Decision
Next, with the results from both the internal and market analyses, companies should develop a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a specific solution. It should be reviewed by and given feedback from cross-functional teams. This RFP can then be communicated to potential vendors in the market and bids will be made for the business.
In considering a vendor, companies should also discuss the length of the implementation process. It may take many months or even years for the implementation to be completed, but it's important to find a solution that can make immediate impacts, show value to the investment, and help build momentum for the rest of the implementation.
Finally, a committee comprised of cross-functional team members, including executives, should be selected to make the final decision. Executive buy-in and support is critical in quality initiatives.
Leverage Outside Knowledge
In many cases, it gets difficult to get the right information from cross functional teams. The use of third party analyses can be very helpful around the selection process. An analyst firm, for instance, can help companies to understand the solution landscape, and help highlight major gaps and areas of improvement. Because this analysis is unbiased and external, having a third party manage these processes can often prove more valuable over the long run.
In addition to providing expert insight and guidance to executives, LNS Research works with companies to attain benchmark data for comparison with the rest of the industry. In the coming weeks, we’ll be publishing our EQMS Solution Selection Guide, which provides extensive information for companies looking to implement an EQMS solution. Also, we’ve just recently released our Top Integration Points for EQMS research spotlight. This report investigates how EQMS facilitates and improves quality management across the value chain.
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