The search for the right quality management system involves a thorough review of your existing quality processes and research into solutions that align with your needs. The decision to move systems is a big one that requires adoption by the entire team, as well as company executives. Quality leadership starts at the top and is necessary to create a true shift in in the quality culture of an organization. Obtaining executive sponsorship should be the top priority in the quest for a new system.
So, how do you convince your management team that you need a modern quality management solution? As you probably know, executives are most concerned about the company’s bottom line. While a new tool may make your daily work easier, thinking about the bigger picture and how it will affect your team is what will ultimately move the needle. With careful thought and preparation, executive sponsorship for a new QMS can be achieved in just a few easy steps.
Ask yourself these questions:
How can it improve team efficiency?
How can it save the company money?
Will it improve customer satisfaction?
What is the cost to the company if you wait?
Establish a decision maker
The first step in this process is to determine who has the final approval on a new quality management system purchase. Your executive sponsor should have full authority to make a buying decision on the software, as well as continuing training and implementation needs. If this person is not involved in the evaluation process, the project will likely fail. Decide who else will be affected by a new solution and be sure they are involved in the project. Outside of the quality department, likely stakeholders include manufacturing operations, IT, and engineering staff. It’s important to fully understand each of their pain points, their short and long-term quality goals, and the metrics that should be used to measure them. With these individuals fully vested in the value of the solution, successful company-wide adoption of the solution is sure to follow.
Identify areas for improvement
In addition to features that are “nice to have” that may be missing from your current quality system, pay careful consideration to the areas that will provide the most impact.
Perhaps you are dealing with some of the following:
- Disparate systems
- No formal CAPA process
- No quality metrics
- No access to real-time quality data
- Inability to effectively manage audits
- Paper-based processes
- Home grown applications
- Lack of insight into supplier quality
Discuss these issues with your executive sponsor and explain how the implementation of a modern quality management system will address them and deliver significant improvements to the organization.
Align the solution to your business processes
With these objectives in mind, be sure that the solution aligns with your priorities and business processes to ensure success. There are likely to be specific industry regulations or compliance requirements for your industry that could be deal breakers if not automated by the system. A solution should not force the way you do business, but rather support it. Look for a solution with out-of-the-box functionality, with the flexibility to configure as needed. The solution should support continuous improvement and address all your compliance and regulatory requirements within a single integrated platform.
Create an QMS RFP
This is where your feature list comes in. While features should not be the driver of your decision, there are likely a few things of importance that you will use to determine if a solution is a functional fit for your company. A clearly defined budget and a project timeline will help overcome executive objections. In addition, defining these requirements for the vendor upfront in your RFP will save you a lot time in the buying process. An RFP document ensures a comprehensive review of the solution and provides for easy vendor comparison.
Your executive sponsor is not going to be on board unless you can effectively demonstrate the value of a new solution. To understand the return on investment from a new QMS, you must have good answers to the four questions we asked early in this post. There are many quantifiable improvements that can be achieved with a quality management solution. Reflecting on your current system’s performance will identify any gaps and justify a change in systems.
If these steps are followed, you should have no trouble establishing executive buy-in for a new quality management solution and will be on your way to improved performance. For more insight into gaining executive QMS sponsorship, visit LNS Research and view their research document, Quality Management in the Boardroom.