Quality has long been a requirement of consumers. Everyone wants to buy goods and services that meet or exceed company promises. The manufacturing and clinical industries have traditionally operated with structured processes in place to enhance the quality of their products. Likewise, service providers are also measuring quality and developing processes to meet customer expectations, such as receiving products on time or having an issue resolved with one telephone call.
Today, with revisions to regulations and consumer expectations rising, many businesses are revamping or implementing quality processes. Specifically, industries like medical, pharma, food, automotive, aerospace, and other safety-critical markets are increasingly focused on quality. Companies are also increasingly looking to differentiate on elements like quality with cost as a driver in the supply chain.
The effectiveness of managing quality systems has evolved with new technologies and data management tools. In the past, a QMS was managed by spreadsheets. Now, the cloud allows for greater connectivity and gives organizations the ability to have access to more data to make decisions. With this technology, there is more visibility into quality for both internal and external stakeholders as greater integration allows for quality management systems to tap into other systems in departments like HR and sales.
An enterprise quality management system can include modules for document control, maintenance and calibration, corrective/preventive action, and audit, change, performance, risk, supplier, and training management. The advantages of working with a 3PL that leverages an enterprise quality management system include:
While paper-based systems widen the gap between departments, enterprise quality management systems connect all teams and locations on a common platform. This breaks down silos that can exist in 3PLs because they partner with so many different customers from different industries. An enterprise system allows for more collaboration and makes it less tedious to integrate quality and easier to build quality initiatives into all aspects of a 3PL.
An enterprise quality management system is more cohesive and enables all departments to speak the same language and use the same terminology. Workflows are built into the system, so roles and responsibilities are defined, and functional teams can directly collaborate. This creates a unified approach to quality and reduces unnecessary back and forth communication that occurs when organizations are trying to keep track of multiple spreadsheets in old systems.
Change management is a growing priority in response to expanding definitions of quality standards and industry regulations. Enterprise quality management systems can include change management modules, so teams can create projects and provide visibility to all stakeholders in the organization. For example, the enterprise quality management system can provide insights on data recorded at each site, how risks to the site and organization are being managed, or if any sites are lagging in their performance and assign measurable actions.
An enterprise-wide system makes it much easier to access and manage data rather than using spreadsheets. Accountability is achieved by assigning a specific leader of a department actions to initiate a quality change. These actions are then directly visible to managers and other key stakeholders.
With spreadsheets, quality managers are left chasing signatures and managing files. Rather than problem solving on the floor, people spend most of their time just trying to maintain the system. With an enterprise quality management system, managers can actually focus on improving the quality management system and working hand in hand with operations on the floor instead of overseeing a paper pushing function.
A big reason why companies outsource is for cost reduction and managing risk. A large part of enterprise quality management is risk management. 3PLs look at how every aspect of the operation impacts each other. Every function, whether shipping, receiving, inventory management, or even support functions like HR and safety, can impact quality. With this comprehensive view, leaders within a 3PL are able to create procedures and identify actions for mitigating risk. 3PLs have a greater level of visibility to address problems and see trends within a company’s supply chain. With this system, reports relating to quality can easily be generated and shared with executive leadership to quickly address negative trends and improve customer experience.
Rather than struggling to manage spreadsheets and get the entire organization on the same page, enterprise quality management systems streamline the process. With this platform, organizations are able to communicate better, manage change, improve access and accountability, and boost productivity. 3PLs take on risk for clients and are able to provide a comprehensive view of quality with an enterprise system. With an ever increasing focus on industry and standard changes bringing quality to the forefront in a growing number of markets, having a robust platform that allows the entire organization to focus on quality initiatives becomes more imperative.