More of the Same: Enterprise Standardization in Quality and EH&S Management
The question of the day is "Can we all be Common?" More on that in a minute.
Whether I like it or not, I am a Target fan. I must go there several times a week, and each time, it's something new. Moreover, my kids love going, because right there in the entrance is the dollar section, where all the little $1 nonsense items are (Kids are into nonsense, but if you're reading my blog, you must be into it too). One of the things I love the most about Target is that their stores are eeriely consistent from one store to the next - I can go into any Target anywhere in the country, and know exactly where to find my nonsensical stuff. They do this on purpose - to create that feeling that everything is where its supposed to be, and you never get lost, or waste time "not buying stuff."
This can ring true in my corner of the world, in Enterprise Quality and EHS Management Software. The impetus for automating Quality and EHS Management is to standardize processes across the organization. Creating a common, standardized set of data enables corporate management to view each facility on the same level, using the same Quality and EHS metrics.
However, the other side of the coin draws concern from plant managers. Many times, each level or area of the organization will want to keep their specific processes in fear that a consolidation or standardization may compromise their unique way of doing business. All the while, corporate management may want to adopt a common platform to create visibility into all areas at an aggregate level. So the dilemma becomes, “how can we all be common, but keep our processes and data unique?”
The answer lies in the flexibility of a Quality Management or EH&S Management Solution to segregate this data in a common environment. This is often achieved through a centralized administrative feature that manages multiple facilities, operational areas, departments and specific business processes in a hierarchal fashion. Leading QMS and EHS systems offer a way to create a hierarchal environment that relies on this common platform with common data elements, but also allows the individual operational areas to configure a workflow or form to match their unique business process, while maintaining standard elements required by the business.
Another benefit to being common is that it eliminates the concern of information being visible across the enterprise. Through the use of advanced security and limitation of data security, stakeholders in different operational areas can be assured that the standardized system will not affect their individual business processes. Instead, their data will remain visible to only them, and levels above them, unless specified otherwise—allowing them to focus on the aspects that pertain to them without seeing information that is not applicable to their discipline.
The QMS and/or EHS serves as a common integrated system by giving each facility, operational area or department the flexibility to be unique in their processes, while keeping the common elements required by the corporate management team. Therefore, IT overhead is reduced, visibility is provided from the enterprise level and a standardized data set is provided without sacrificing site-level business processes.
Functions such as these are crucial to help assuage the department managers’ fears that an integrated and standardized system will force them into a “cookie cutter” business process. Through scalability functions, each area can remain unique, and still be common.
So, in essence, organizations can adopt the practices needed to make standardization happen, but enable individual sites to retain their unique processes. And, a little like Target, the "stuff" can be easily identified and found. But, a little unlike Target, the uniqueness of each area is retained.