Over the past several years, our analyst team has been enjoying front-row seats to the quality management arena. We’ve collected data from more than 1,000 different quality management leaders, and have personally spoken to a good portion of them. The analysis is showing many different trends, but one that’s standing out above all is the rising awareness and adoption of Enterprise Quality Management Software (EQMS).
21% of companies reported currently having an EQMS solution implemented in 2014. But what’s more interesting, and seems to have only been accelerating over the past decade, is that 40% of organizations reported currently being in the planning stages of an EQMS adoption.
The benefits of taking this platform approach to quality with EQMS are vast, and we’ll get into those later in this post. But first, let’s talk about the mounting challenges that are driving the need for a next-generation solution in the first place.
The Need for Continuous Improvement Tools and Quality Processes
Whenever costs—and consequently profits—are impacted in some way, we can almost always assume quality is involved. For this reason, companies have been working to monitor, control, and improve it for a long time now. Today, though, the implications to quality have evolved well beyond costs. Now, executives have to juggle additional factors like global supplier networks, dynamic regulatory requirements, and more.
Fortunately, the continuous improvement tools and processes available to alleviate pressures from these challenges have come a long way, each continuing to advance and become more pervasive in the manufacturing environment. Today, you’d be hard-pressed to visit a relatively mature quality organization without seeing some type of solution for the following:
- Corrective and preventive action management
- Audit management
- Change management
- Risk management
- Quality reporting
- Regulatory compliance management
- Supplier quality management
- Document management
- Statistical process control
These solutions are designed to both control and assure product and process quality—and when leveraged effectively they do a good job at that—but for a number of reasons today’s organizations aren’t getting the most out of them.
From Paper-based Solutions to Point Solutions
Despite today’s technology-oriented world, in many cases the above are still very reliant on manual interaction, homegrown solutions and spreadsheets. Companies simply haven’t made the investment to automate them. In other cases, more mature companies may have deployed point software solutions to streamline quality processes and workflows, but still this surfaces challenges. Namely, in most cases, the solution deployed was done so to fix a local problem or set of problems, and didn’t account for the broader enterprise or the long-term vision of quality.
What’s left is an incomplete, disjointed view of quality and inefficient methods for managing it—not to mention major challenges with acquiring data and the data’s actual integrity. Effectively, companies are asking employees to manage things like global supplier process quality or quality risk with a number of different systems and data sources that don’t communicate with one another. It’s almost as if they’re being inadvertently set up to fail.
At a time where the business environment is becoming more complex, competitive, and global, the opposite needs to be happening. Consolidation, standardization, automation—this is where EQMS takes the stage.
From Point Solutions to Quality Platforms
We’re hearing more and more about executives wanting to converge all of these different quality systems and data sources into a singular, holistic solution. Today’s EQMS solutions are capable of that, and actually much more. They enable communication and collaboration not only within the manufacturing environment, but cross the value chain (because they’re designed to easily integrate with other quality data sources in other enterprise applications like ERP, PLM, and MOM).
There was a time not too long ago where robust, scalable EQMS functionality was only affordable for organizations with large quality budgets. But advancements to cloud-based technology have transformed the software category. Today, it’s realistic for companies of all sizes to extend the benefits of automation, centralization, and process standardization delivered by EQMS across the enterprise—across multiple plants and even geographies. In fact, we see this as a driver behind the growing number of companies in the planning stages of an adoption.
Another driver of adoption is the modularity of some of today’s solutions. For some large organizations, taking a modular approach—for instance, deploying an enterprise-wide CAPA solution and then other modules over time—is optimal. With this strategy, ROI can be quickly shown, rather than waiting for an entire implementation and then additional modules can be deployed over time.
Lastly, because of the impact quality has in nearly all operational areas, we’re seeing a whole new set of solution providers investing in deep quality management functionality. It’s becoming increasingly common for PLM, ERP, and MOM vendors to offer EQMS functionality and even suites of functionality to meet the needs to users. There have also been numerous EQMS acquisitions made by these other enterprise providers. This has all provided opportunities for companies that may not have invested in quality functionality to do so.
While Life Science companies have traditionally led the way in EQMS adoption, other industries such as CPG, Electronics, and F&B are seeing the benefits and jumping on the bandwagon. If you’re considering EQMS solutions and would like to learn more from the more than 1,000 survey responses we’ve collected so far, our analyst team would be interested in sharing their insights with you. Click here or on the button below to get contacted.