Using the QMS to Support Operational Excellence: 5 Essential Strategies

[fa icon="calendar"] Tue, Jul 11, 2017 / by Rachel Beavins Tracy

Using the QMS to Support Operational Excellence: 5 Essential StrategiesOperational excellence: it can mean the difference between lackluster performance metrics and a well-oiled process that unlocks the door to market leadership.

And while we often discuss operational excellence in terms of multi-year investments, the reality is that a Quality Management System (QMS) already contains many of the tools you need. Today’s post focuses on how you can use your QMS to build a foundation for operational excellence, focusing on strategies such as process standardization, integration and predictive analytics.

1. Standardize Your Processes

Process standardization is one of the most important elements of efficiency and operational excellence. Within the QMS, companies can focus on creating customized workflows to standardize critical processes such as:

  • Document Control.
  • Employee Training.
  • Corrective Action.
  • Audits.
  • Risk Management.

When you automate routing, reviews and metrics for decision-making, you reduce a lot of the guesswork that contributes to poor quality and safety performance.

2. Integrate Quality and Safety

In many companies, quality and safety are siloed operations that are managed separately. This makes sense from an organizational standpoint, but not so much from a practical one.

For starters, quality and safety are closely linked. You can’t expect people who work unsafely to manufacture quality products, nor is it reasonable to think that people who don’t adhere to quality standards will behave safely.

Second, quality and safety share many similar processes such as document control and corrective action. A corrective action is a corrective action, whether you’re applying it to quality or safety objectives. If you use Quality Management Software to standardize processes around quality, using the same set of tools to standardize your safety processes can help eliminate redundant systems.   

3. Develop Predictive Analytics

One shared quality among operational excellence leaders is a focus on proactively preventing problems, as opposed to just putting out one fire after another. The QMS is a key tool here, breaking down data silos so you can expand your data set to develop leading indicators that show where problems are most likely to occur.

Integrated Reporting tools in the QMS let you identify how quality trends relate to different sources of data that include:

  • Environmental performance.
  • Asset and equipment data.
  • Supplier quality management.
  • Employee training
  • Risk assessments.

Only with a big-picture view of quality and safety can you make meaningful progress towards true operational excellence.

4. Close the Loop on Compliance

If you don’t have a handle on compliance, you’ll never be able to move up the ladder to operational excellence. Complying with policies, regulatory requirements and third-party standards is a basic requirement for achieving this level of efficiency.

Compliance Obligations tools in the QMS help you plug any holes in your compliance process, allowing you to:

  • Track all requirements in one place.
  • Link requirements with controls such as policies, audit questions and engineering controls.
  • Identify compliance gaps where you don’t have controls for individual requirements (or where controls aren’t sufficient).
  • Assess the risk of each gap to help prioritize compliance action items.

5. Extend Compliance to Suppliers

No matter how well-designed your internal processes are, you can’t achieve operational excellence without robust processes for monitoring and managing supplier quality.

A QMS that includes Supplier Quality Management tools can help minimize supplier-related quality issues by allowing you to:

  • Assign corrective actions to suppliers.
  • Require suppliers to inspect product to your checklist prior to shipment.
  • Tailor measurement and tracking based on the supplier’s past performance.
  • Benchmark suppliers with quantitative supplier ratings.

For a company just starting out on the journey to operational excellence, getting there can seem like a complex maze of processes, teams and performance metrics. The QMS can help you get there one step at a time, providing a framework for continuous improvement and enhanced visibility.

The QEHS Guide to Operational Excellence

Topics: Quality Management

Rachel Beavins Tracy

Written by Rachel Beavins Tracy

Rachel Tracy is a writer for EtQ with expertise in environmental, healthcare and technology topics. She has a master’s degree from Vanderbilt University and has been writing for businesses since 2008.

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