Ditching the Manual Auditing and Corrective Action Processes
This is the third in a 4-part series on ditching the manual processes and automating them with technology, going from manual to automated in minutes. For more information, check out the webinar series on this here. No matter what industry you're in, and what you do in your career, it seems that these days, we are all very busy. We're checking up on emails, meeting with our key personnel, checking more emails, improving processes, meeting...again, and so forth. So, in all that time, we have to try and automate as much as possible. We talked about how constantly using spreadsheets and E-mail can cause process inefficiencies, and using a Quality Management Solution that is automated can help. How can this automation influence Audit Management and Corrective Action?
1. Elminate Double-Entry: One of the most annoying things to do is to have to take notes, records observations, then re-write them when you input them into another system. This can not only cause frustration and productivity issues, it can also lead to errors due to manual error. Having a solution that is flexible to record observations, notes, or any information and then have that information automatically update is the key to success. Automating a QMS can help with that. Audit information should be a "one and done" kind of thing - you record your observations, save them and then every time you want to reference them, you just link to that audit record. Opening up a Corrective Action from an Audit finding should be as simple as clicking a button, and all the information is linked. The elmination of this double-entry saves time, reduces errors, and provides a seamless and traceable link from event detection to event correction.
2. Track the Process Automatically: Another major issue is one of follow-up. In a manual system, a Corrective Action involves many moving parts and people. There are action plans and projects, activities and sub-activities. Many roles are involved, and ensuring that each role is completing their task in a acceptable amount of time is critical to completing Corrective Actions on time. By having a workflow-based QMS, you can ensure that your tasks are being completed. Business rules are in place to make sure that the work is on track, and escalation notifications will inform the assigned - or their boss - when work is overdue. The benefit is that instead of YOU following up constantly to make sure the tasks are complete, it is the SYSTEM that is doing it for you.
3. Better Visibility Overall: Manual systems are kind of "foggy" when it comes to visibility. File servers and multiple locations for data tend to create a disconnect when you look at how to determine overall success and progress of the Quality System. An Audit finding is over in one file, and the Corrective Action is maintained on a spreadsheet somewhere else, and the two never meet, and then you are looking in 5 places for a single event. Having an automated solution that is connected allows you to have all your work in one place, and have a seamless link from one process to the next. You can literally trace the history of an event from beginning to end, and do it all with a few clicks. Furthermore, you can see any related events, because each Quality event is it's own traceable strong of records. This promotes a greater visibility and searchability of the data; you're in one place and you stay in one place, and your data follows you.
4. Better Reporting and Continuous Improvement: With everything in one place, you can start to focus not on "where is my data today?" but now on "How can I improve based on the data today?" When everything is at your fingertips, you now have the ability to look at data in aggregate and see trends, make changes to processes, suggest improvements and use the data to your advantage. Information is no longer a burden - it's a benefit, and you can use reporting tools to leverage what you've learned to impact change, and foster continuous improvement.
So can we get away from manual? Yes. Can we do it in a way that makes our work lives easier? Absolutely! Are we still going to be busy? Yes, of course. However, by automating the processes that make sense, and promoting efficiency and visibility, we can at least elminate the "busy work" and focus on the kind of busy that truly matters - impacting change, improving Quality, and making the company more efficient. To find out more on how others have made the switch and ditched, check out this webinar series on how to automate Audits and Corrective Action. Stay tuned for the next series on how to ditch the manual reporting process.