Where Do QMS and EHS Management Systems fit into SAP?
A few months back, I posted an article on the benefits of integrating Quality and Environmental Health and Safety Management Systems with SAP. Essentially, the focus was on how you can go about finding ways to compliment your current SAP implementation with QMS and EHS systems and how leveraging these workflow-based solutions can enhance your visibility into Quality and Safety with SAP.
While that is all well and good for Quality and Safety Managers to know, a major factor in success lies with the role of the SAP Administrator. SAP Administrators are the champions of the SAP effort, but don't always have visibility into the operations of Quality and EHS management. Quite simply - they need to know what the vision of Quality and Safety is in order to effectively weave it into the fibers of the SAP implementation.
What Quality and Safety managers need to do is demonstrate the various scenarios in which Quality and EHS software solutions would be the best fit into the SAP paradigm. SAP Administrators also need to know the various scenarios in order to accurately map Quality and Safety into the SAP family.
1. SAP Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP): Also known as SAP ECC, this provides the platform for many of the operations in businesses today. Inventory, inspection, planning, development, and production; all are functions of this product.
Scenario - QMS Nonconforming Materials (NCM) linked to SAP: SAP is able to handle many of the transactional data surrounding production and quality notifications. What a QMS can do to enhance this is provide the granular level of how to handle a quality notification. When a notification is triggered in SAP, the QMS can take over in an NCM process, which provides the platform and workflow for investigation, material review, and corrective action. The workflow is able to feed information back to SAP as needed, providing important updates on the status of the product on hold. This allows the production team to more efficiently plan and determine when a held lot is going to receive a disposition type. When the QMS is finished with the NCM workflow, SAP then knows what to do with the lot (release w/deviation, scrap, rework, etc.) and can better plan their inventory and meet demand.
2. SAP Supply Chain Management (SCM) and Supplier Performance Management (SPM): The SAP SCM and SPM are primarily responsible for handling the logistics, supplier information, and supplier planning within the organization's supply-chain.
Scenario - QMS Supplier Quality and Scorecarding linked to SCM and SPM: One of the key areas in Supplier Management is selecting the suppliers with the best Quality record. This can be both qualitative (history, reputation) or quantitative (timeliness, defects per lot). The QMS can pull in supplier information from SAP, link them to supplier Quality Management, and begin to record NCMs and corrective actions attributed to supplier performance. It can then generate the quantitative quality information into a comprehensive Supplier scorecard rating, and then push this information back to the SAP SCM or SPM. As a result, SAP is now enhanced not only with their existing supplier rating to select preferred vendors, but also with a Supplier Quality component to add to the score; this is a powerful function to bring Quality to the forefront of supply chain decision making.
3. SAP Human Capital Management (HCM): SAP is also capable of handling the organizational structure and data from within the SAP system. It ties the people of the organization to the SAP systems and grants access, records information and provides direction on employee transactions with respect to corporate goals
Scenario - Linking EHS Injury / Illness reporting to HCM: Workplace safety is an important part of ensuring EHS goals are met, and organizations operate in a safe environment. EHS systems have the workflow and investigative processes in place to record safety incidents and take action on systemic problems as a result of gaps in safety and health. By integrating with HCM, the EHS can pull data on employees and organizational structure and tie them to incident reports, conduct the investigation and actions necessary to correct systemic issues, and provide training on new procedures arising from these incidents. While the EHS conducts its workflow-based process, it is feeding this data back to SAP HCM, updating employee records with safety and training information.
4. SAP Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Customers are the driving force of businesses today, and SAP has developed the tools necessary to manage and track customers, handle interactions with customers, and record the transactions that each department has with the customer base.
Scenario - SAP CRM linked to Complaint Handling in a QMS: Not all interactions will be positive, and for that, many companies adopt Complaint Handling systems. This is to ensure that information is recorded properly, and investigations and actions are taken to ensure corrections are made to satisfy any concerns. Linking SAP CRM to a QMS Complaint Handling system not only enables a company to automatically pull in the customer data from SAP into the Complaint system, it also allows the QMS to properly investigate the concern, take any necessary corrective actions, and provide constant feedback to SAP CRM on where the concern is in the complaint process. This not only effectively and efficiently addresses the concerns of the organization and the customer base, but also provides the visibility to assure the team that complaints recorded are being taken care of quickly.
5. SAP Product Lifecycle Management (PLM): In order to manage the product lifecycle, from design to production to release, SAP has a system that manages the logistics, parts, and production elements involved to ensure the product is created on time.
Scenario - QMS Specification Management linked to SAP PLM: One of the key areas in many leading QMS solutions is in controlling documents. Specifically, hierarchical documents such as specifications can be linked together and have relationships to each other (such as parent-child). QMS Specification Management can pull in the product and part data from SAP PLM, update the specification data, and provide a place to ensure any changes to specifications are done in a workflow-based change request. This helps to ensure that proper documentation is up-to-date, and fed back to SAP PLM, making certain that the PLM system is using the most recent and valid specifications within the organization.
Scenario - QMS Change Management, linked to SAP PLM: Another point to add is the concept of change management. As companies receive post-market feedback (see Complaint Handling), the Quality data needs to be translated into change management activities. This is to help ensure that feedback from the customer base is reaching future product versions. The QMS's workflow and project management capabilities are a prime environment for managing change - they provide an efficient process for ensuring changes are reflected in design, production, marketing, sales and all other areas of the organization. Tying these change management activities back to SAP PLM is critical to continue to update product records, part information, and related information within the product lifecycle.
6. SAP Master Data Management (MDM): SAP's MDM is the central platform for synchronizing all information within the SAP family, and makes sure that all data is harmonized and consistent throughout the organization.
Scenario - Linking QMS and EHS data to SAP MDM: This is a more overreaching concept, but in general, any data that needs to be recorded in a QMS or EHS should be able to pull from SAP MDM whenever necessary. Customers, Suppliers, Partners, Products, Employees and similar data can be pulled in from SAP and eliminate double-entry. Similarly, any data that can be enhanced from use of a QMS or EHS (investigation data, quality records, corrective actions, etc.) can be pushed back into the SAP MDM. This provides the seamless collaboration more SAP administrators look for when thinking of SAP integration with other systems.
These are just a few of the basic scenarios many Quality and Safety managers encounter when looking to demonstrate the value of a QMS or EHS to the SAP team. The key is not so much to explain the entirety of what you plan to do in your QMS or EHS, but to show the scenarios in which SAP can be enhanced via these systems, and how Quality Management Systems and EHS Management Systems with tight SAP integration can complement their existing SAP implementation.