At LNS Research, we always place significant value and focus on our conversations with industry experts and thought leaders. We were lucky enough to have recently chatted with the Global Vice President of Quality for a Tier 1 automotive supplier, discussing his company’s major quality management challenges as well as his prior challenges with Enterprise Quality Management Software (EQMS) adoption.
This particular company is large, with well over $5 billion in sales, and has also just launched a global EQMS. We found a few points discussed by the VP both unique and interesting, especially in regard to where the company has come from, how it views quality, and how it was able to balance internal resources and priorities to adopt its EQMS system.
In this blog, we’ll discuss the key takeaways from our conversation with the automotive VP, adding some of our own insight from our recent research and experiences.
Identifying the Challenges
As is the case with many Tier 1 automotive suppliers, this company has emerged from bankruptcy over the past several years. It went through the entire restructuring process, in addition a multitude of acquisitions. As a consequence, the supplier found itself in an auspicious position for growth, but it also faced many challenges.
In our research, we frequently hear about challenges arising from the acquisitive nature of the manufacturing world, specifically with industries such as consumer products or automotive. Companies are often met with hurdles when attempting to integrate existing resources. This particular automotive supplier had to overcome disparate IT systems and the absence of a unified culture around quality management.
Unifying Disparate Management Systems
After advocating for a unified system and culture for the past few years, the global VP of quality recently realized his vision of adopting an EQMS and bringing together a culture around quality. Listening to him speak, I found myself impressed with his story for several reasons.
First: He was able to rationalize the functionalities of many disparate systems. Because there were numerous quality management applications, he had to identify and consolidate the needed functionalities for a global implementation.
Second: Rather than launching regionally, or on an even smaller scale to start, he was able to launch the system globally. As we’ve mentioned previously, this can help spread a quality culture throughout the organization and facilitate adoption of the technology.
Third: He elevated the importance of the system to such a high level within the organization that it’s not just called a "Quality System," it’s called the "Corporate System."
Fourth: Despite competing with other IT projects, including implementations in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), the EQMS was the first to launch globally.
Prioritizing Quality Management Software and Culture
To benefit our readers, I’d also like to share my notes on how such a large company was successful in prioritizing quality over other IT systems. In his own words, here were the main goals for the project:
- Create one global web-based quality system
- Listen to the voice of customer
- Empower people with data
- Drive performance improvement
- Have a single source of truth
- Enable data sharing and continuous improvement
- Provide real-time business data to all stakeholders
- Support the “one company" philosophy
- Standardize, processes, metrics, and expectations
- Integrate quality system from suppliers through customers
- Be flexible enough to support changing business needs
Although there’s no perfect recipe for improving business performance, we also advocate for companies to make enterprise quality management a focal point of operations. This can be difficult, especially when attempting to prioritize a potentially expensive and lengthy implementation over other IT projects. However, it’s my guess that if more companies take a similar approach to the one described above, the whole industry will see more success.
For more information, our research report EQMS Best Practices Guide sheds light on this topic, providing an extensive overview of quality management technologies as well as a discussion on how comapnies can build an operational excellence model into operations.
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