All I ever needed to know about Enterprise Software Implementation I learned in Kindergarten.
Cliché, maybe - but in some ways, the lessons we teach our kids at a young age will follow them for the rest of their life. My kids are at the age when they are just starting to learn the subtleties of social interaction - school, playtime, manners, social norms - all these things are a challenge for kids. It's a big change, and they certainly need to adapt to move forward in life.
If you think about it, adopting a new QMS or EH&S software solution follows a similar pattern. It's a change, no doubt, and one that isn't always familiar, and requires a little effort from all sides. There are requirements, conflicts, collaboration, and even emotions that stand in the way of your Enterprise Quality Management Solution. Here are a few things I learned from my kids that you can take to your next software implementation:
1. Keep Things Simple (if you can): My kids don't complicate the issue very much. I'm hungry - I eat. I'm bored - I play. I'm sleepy - well, 2 out of 3 ain't bad. When you approach a new software implementation, put in simple goals and seek to achieve each goal in turn. Don't attempt to re-invent the wheel and go for a global rollout immediately - start with a site level implementation, or implement a single process (CAPA, NCM, Document Control) to start. Most organizations look for the "early wins" in a software implementation - those that can be achieved easily and set the standard for future "wins".
2. Playing as a Group is Way More Fun: Now that my kids are gaining new friends, they have discovered the benefits of playing in a group. There are more games you can play, you can get more activities done, and "freeze tag" is way more fun with more than one person. In an organization, freeze tag isn't on the daily planner, but working in a group, you can get more done. Collaboration is a critical component to the success of any QMS project. You need to ensure that all people who will be involved in the final product have a voice in the direction of the project, and all opinions and requirements are considered. Without the right people, software solutions cannot be implemented properly. That is not to say that there won't be conflict, however.
3. Temper Tantrums get you Nowhere: I have at least 30% of my gray hairs dedicated to my youngest daughter. Her temper tantrums are EPIC - they are a tornado of emotion, and most of the time I want to cower in my empty tub or find a sturdy threshold until it passes. But, these tantrums get her nowhere - she still doesn't get what she wants, and she's expounded all this energy for nothing. Eventually she learned that anger and frustration is not the solution to get what she wants. In your company, I'm sure you have someone with this "tornado persona" - they will throw a fit with every challenge, and practice uncompromising behavior. The point is that this type of acrimony gets you nowhere in a QMS implementation. All you've done is posture yourself and frustrate the group, and the problem isn't resolved. Good Implementation involve compromise, thoughtful discussion, even debate - finding the right and fair solution to automating your business processes.
4. Sometimes, You Need a Time-out (or a Nap): Unsuprisingly, my daughter knows the "time-out" very well. When her frustration level is at it's peak, we take her aside, and let her calm down. If we're lucky, she is calm after a few minutes and we can move on to practicing manners. If we're REALLY lucky, she will take a nap.
Any software implementation, especially Quality or EH&S Management, will have moments of impasse. Sometimes you can only debate a process structure or form specification for so long till you're exhausted. This is the perfect time to adjourn as a team and move away for a few hours. Sometimes a little distance gives perspective to a project, and may spur on new ideas. Most QMS rollouts will encounter "deal-breaker" moments that require level-headed collaboration and compromise. Take a little Time out (or a nap, if they let you do that at work), come back to the table fresh and ready to tackle the issue as a team.
5. Little Rewards Go A Long Way: All those child-raising doctors say, "acknowledge right behavior, ignore bad behavior". That way, a child's need for attention will manifest itself in positive behavior (Easier said than done, right?). Well, in an organization the same rules apply. It is important to recognize the "early wins" and draw attention to the postive results gained from your implementation. Employee recognition, demonstrations to management on the benefits of your solution help to influence the behavior of the team - they are more likely to get excited about a project when they are doing well with it. I've spoke in the past about using Marketing to help bolster a Software rollout. This is the perfect time to start rewarding your team for their hard work.
Quality Management and EH&S Management solutions are important aspects to your overall operations within the organization. They provide a backbone to the production process, a feedback loop on people and products, and can be a driver for operational excellence. It's important to make sure that you get the solution implemented correctly, the first time. Whenever you have a new software implementation on the schedule, don't panic - just look to your kids. They know more than you think.