Tips for Finding the Right Software For Your Company
Quality management software may be designed to help you succeed in your complex job, but the task of choosing the right package for your business can be intimidating. The best choice for you and your company is going to depend on your industry, your business goals, the market, and even your individual team. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but don’t let that slow you down. In this article, we’ll give you actionable steps to help you select the very best quality management software vendor for your company.
1. Understand Your Needs
There’s no such thing as “the best quality management software,” only the best quality management software for you — and you can’t know what that is until you understand your specific needs. The first step, then, is to audit your current process and identify any gaps that exist in your quality management systems. Figure out where you need to improve and prioritize these areas.
2. Refer Back to Your Specific Needs, Often
Yes, you read that right: Step two is to refer back to step one. By necessity, quality management software addresses a wide variety of problems, but it’s your specific needs that you have to meet. Don’t get distracted by bells and whistles. Make sure you’re focused on the essentials, remind yourself of the specific gaps you have to fill and look for something that fits your requirements.
3. Consider All Stakeholders
You’re responsible for managing relationships with stakeholders from every level of your organization and beyond. Their happiness (and you do need to keep them happy!) will depend in large part on your ability to provide them with timely information and insight. Keep this in mind when choosing the right quality management software vendor for your business.
4. Ask Around
Quality management is an enormous field—in other words, you’re not alone. Ask your peers, including folks from any professional associations you belong to, about what they use, what problems they’re trying to solve, and whether it does the job well. Next, take your shortlist to vendor review sites. Capterra and G2 offer a treasure trove of information and reviews about quality management software vendors.
5. Request a Demo and Ask Questions
Once you’ve narrowed your search down to a few contenders, dig a bit deeper. Request demos so you can see for yourself how their products work. Ask to see use cases for organizations that are similar to yours. Your job is to advocate for your business, so come prepared and don’t be afraid to steer the conversation to your specific needs.
In the complex world of quality management software vendors, the key to finding the best software is simplicity. Keep the important things — namely, the needs of your program and its stakeholders — top of mind at all stages of your search. To streamline your evaluation process, download this self-assessment document that we designed to help you narrow down your options and focus on what matters.
RizePoint offers highly flexible and configurable quality management software that empowers people just like you to collect, organize, and manage data around quality assurance and supplier quality management. Click —> here to learn more today.
Tips for Identifying & Managing Project Stakeholders
If you’ve ever managed a project, you know that key stakeholders can make or break your success.
Meeting the expectations of a single quality management stakeholder can be a job on its own, beyond all the other elements needed to make your project successful. Unfortunately, it’s rare to have only one stakeholder when you’re leading a project. It’s more likely that you’ll have several quality management stakeholders, both internal and external — from your CEO to the customer — invested in the outcome of your project.
Every added stakeholder makes your project more complex. That’s why it’s important to create a stakeholder management strategy that helps you understand and manage each stakeholder relationship, so you can effectively keep your project on target, manage expectations, and maximize your chances for success.
The first step in building a holistic stakeholder management strategy is identifying quality management stakeholders and understanding the key differences between them. This article identifies and defines internal and external project stakeholder types and offers a few tips on how to manage each one.
Note: Depending on the size and structure of your company, quality management stakeholder types may partially or completely overlap, so be sure to adjust your stakeholder management strategy to best suit your business.
Internal Quality Management Stakeholders
1. Top Management
Top management stakeholders include anyone who’s responsible for the strategy and development of your organization — from c-suite executives to department directors. Reporting to these quality management stakeholders is often highly visible, which means failed projects will also be highly visible. Additionally, these stakeholders can make or break a project based on their buy-in and commitment.
Here are a few tips for managing top management stakeholders:
- Develop detailed project plans for top management to review and approve
- Update top-level leaders when big roadblocks threaten to affect your timeline or projected outcomes
- Ask every top management stakeholder what reports they’ll need and how often you should give updates
- Put a reporting process for top management in place and stick to a standard delivery schedule
2. Direct Manager
It goes without saying that your boss dictates what your projects are and what resources are available to you in much more detail than top management. That’s why it’s essential to keep communication open and visibility high with your direct manager, so you can manage expectations and build a case for more resources as needed.
Here are a few tips for influencing your direct manager:
- Have detailed discussions about his or her expectations as well as how your performance will be measured, then document goals and timelines around those discussions
- Set regular meetings to keep your direct manager informed about project progress and challenges you encounter along the way. Make sure to bring up anything that needs direction or clarification.
- Put a reporting process for your direct manager in place and stick to a regular reporting cadence
3. Internal Customers
An internal customer can be anyone in your organization that will have final sign-off on your quality management project. Keep in mind that while you need to get buy-in and support from top management and your direct manager, they may not be the “customer” you’re serving. It’s critical to obtain as many details as possible from the internal customer and then negotiate realistic deliverables and timelines based on your resources.
Here are a few tips for managing internal customers:
- Create a detailed project brief or worksheet that helps internal customers provide the details you need to complete the project to everyone’s satisfaction
- Document every requirement and specification, then use that documentation as a written agreement for the project, and include signatures from both parties
- Include change procedures in the agreement to better negotiate requested changes to any part of the project scope or deliverables
- Understand the team culture of your internal customer and “speak their language” in your communications
- Establish that you’re the main point of contact for the project, not your team members, to keep communication clean and clear
4. Project Team
A quality management project team includes anyone who’s assigned to your project on a full- or part-time basis. This can include people from your department, borrowed members from other departments, interns, and more. They will be looking to you as a leader to communicate the value of the project, to clearly define their roles and tasks, and to support and motivate them in these efforts when needed. It’s important to create a culture of collaboration in order to support, learn, and problem-solve together.
Here are a few tips for managing your project team:
- Involve your team in the planning process to increase project buy-in and encourage members to volunteer for responsibilities that best match their strengths
- Clearly define and document the responsibilities of each team member, including relevant deadlines
- Establish that you’re available to team members whenever needed
- Set regular, short team meetings to celebrate success and solve problems
- Schedule conversational one-on-one meetings to both build rapport and address anything the team member may not want to share with the group
- Act early and decisively when you discover personality conflicts, value clashes, or other team culture challenges
5. Company Peers
Your peers include anyone who’s at the same level as you in the company, which could include a vast number of people, depending on the size of your organization. The specific peers you need to consider may be assigned to your project team or otherwise be invested in the success of your quality management project. Either way, they do not hold a leadership role in your project, nor do they have any accountability for its success. Managing peers may be highly political and hampered by personality conflicts, disparate instructions from your respective managers, or even envy that you’re the project lead instead of them.
Here are a few tips for managing company peers:
- Ask top management to make project roles clear to all project team members and emphasize that cooperation is expected from all parties
- Clearly define (and repeat often) project expectations and goals
- Have regular meetings to discuss the progress of each invested peer
- Act early if it’s clear that a peer is hampering the project in any way, such as being uncooperative or choosing gossip and bad-mouthing over moving the project forward
6. Internal Resource Managers
Aside from peers, there may be others within your organization that control resources you need, from data analysts and subject-matter experts to equipment managers and technology administrators. Fostering goodwill to build a solid working relationship with any coworker is always a good idea, but it’s a critical necessity when it comes to tackling quality management projects.
Here are a few tips for managing internal resource managers:
- Ask for access to resources for your project as soon as you know you need them. This gives resource managers enough lead time to plan and adjust schedules for other projects that require the same resources.
- Listen actively and show compassion about their workload and challenges to help foster goodwill and encourage collaboration
- Be clear and firm when communicating what you need for your project, but try to remain flexible and willing to compromise as needed
External Quality Management Stakeholders
7. Governing & Standards Bodies
If your industry is regulated in any way, you must follow specific laws, rules, and requirements to ensure your projects meet quality, safety, and compliance standards. Even if your business isn’t tightly regulated, there are likely industry best practices that help your company stay certified, relevant, and competitive in your market.
Here are high-level tips for managing the requirements of governing and standards bodies:
- Resist cutting corners, especially when it may affect the quality and safety of the product or services you deliver to external customers
- Take the time to properly document, update, and internally communicate any change to your processes. This ensures that everyone is on the same page, and it solidifies company goals and values. Additionally, if you’ve documented procedural changes,you’re more likely to be prepared (instead of scrambling) when any internal or external audit, inspection, or assessment occurs
8. Suppliers, Vendors & Contractors
When internal resources can’t cover your needs, you will need to hire outside help. Depending on your project, this could be anything from consulting with an industry expert to hiring a graphic designer. Keep in mind: No matter how well you communicate with external resources, the risks are higher when it comes to managing work quality, staying within budget, and meeting critical deadlines.
Here are tips for managing project suppliers, vendors, and contractors:
- Document every requirement and deliverable in the signed contract; never rely on spoken promises or goodwill
- Schedule frequent meetings to check on their progress
- Make it clear that you need to hear about any roadblocks or issues as soon as they arise, so you can help keep the project on track.
- Refer also to the tips for managing peers and internal resource managers above.
9. External Customers
Last, but certainly not least, are external customers. These are the people that will ultimately be consuming your company’s product or services. External customers are arguably the most important stakeholder for you and your business. Avoiding bad press, creating positive experiences through safe and quality products, increasing customer retention, and gaining new customers are all examples of success that drives revenue.
Here are a few tips for managing external customers:
- Always keep your customer in mind when managing a quality management project
- Remind other internal stakeholders about customer needs when planning and negotiating project details
- Remember that successfully managing your quality management projects and all internal stakeholders is what helps you keep brand promises to your customers
With careful consideration, you can create a plan that helps your quality management stakeholders stay appropriately involved and invested in your project, which helps you keep it running smoothly while increasing your chances of success.
Learn more about creating an effective stakeholder management strategy in this article: Every Quality Professional Needs a Stakeholder Management Strategy.
RizePoint offers quality management software that empowers quality leaders to collect, organize, and manage data around their quality assurance and supplier quality management programs, so they can deliver consistent, safe, and quality products and services. Click here to learn more today.
Your organization works with many suppliers and vendors. And if you’re manually managing supplier quality, chances are noncompliances are hiding in your data and leaving you open to risks.
You’re searching through long email chains, deep folder structures, and complex spreadsheets to gain insights, which means you have murky visibility at best. Plus manual systems involve too many administrative tasks, so you’re short on time to drive important quality initiatives that improve the quality and safety of your products and services.
If you find yourself lost in a sea of documents and spending too many hours a week with administrative tasks, it might be time to embrace supplier quality management software.
Here are 10 more signs that it’s time to ditch manual processes and start using software to manage supplier quality.
1. Your Team Spends Too Many Hours Collecting Docs
With supplier quality management (SQM) software, suppliers use clear task lists to answer questions and upload documents, which are then automatically associated with the right locations, products, or materials.
2. Supplier Communication is Increasingly Difficult & Frustrating
Sending and tracking supplier tasks and compliance document requests all in one place improves supplier relationships and adds transparency for you and your suppliers.
3. You Dread Requests for Reporting Updates
A single source of truth for compliance statuses and searchable data means you can find answers in minutes for both planned and ad-hoc reporting.
4. Better Visibility Sounds Like a Far Away Dream
Instead of searching error-prone spreadsheets, see all your supplier qualification and compliance statuses in a single view and drill down into noncompliances with just a few clicks.
5. Key Info Is Buried in Long Email Threads
The phrase “I know it’s in here somewhere” won’t be in your vocabulary when everything you need is stored and organized as a single source of truth.
6. “Losing” Data or Supplier Documents is the Norm
The looming enemy of deep folder structures will be a thing of the past when you use the right software to manage suppliers, helping you ditch manual document management and data management via spreadsheets.
7. It Feels Like Your Job is Mostly Administrative Work
You’ll no longer sort through submitted docs, search for expiration dates, be blindsided by yearly renewals, or send dozens of emails to suppliers a day (that, let’s face it, go unanswered.)
8. Optimizing Strategy is Often on the Back Burner
The time saved through automating administrative work can be used to focus on strategy for important quality, safety, and compliance initiatives.
9. Data is Only Available When it’s Too Late
Get quick and easy access to the most up-to-date data and stop acting on old data, which often leads to redoing work.
10. You Can Only Access Data When You’re at Your Desk
Using cloud-based software to manage suppliers means you can access your information wherever you have an internet connection on your phone, tablet, or laptop.
See how RizePoint can help you solve all these problems and more with an easy, affordable supplier quality management solution for supplier onboarding and ongoing supplier compliance. Request a demo today.
As a quality professional, you know that better supplier quality management would streamline your processes, mitigate risk, and save your company money over the long term. But without a sufficient budget, it’s difficult to achieve.
It’s a familiar conundrum — one that’s central to the job. The good news is that interrupting the dysfunction and repairing the cycle is within reach.
Taking on this big-picture problem by tackling it in increments means frequent, smaller successes and a path towards continual improvement. Starting with these top SQM issues is an effective way to educate and convince stakeholders to contribute more resources to quality initiatives, which will help you meet quality and safety targets while reducing operating costs.
1. Strained Budget and Resources
Companies with tight budgets often dedicate few resources to quality initiatives, which can be a costly mistake.
While you may already know the value of investing in quality management, you likely still need to convince the higher-ups. If you’re failing to develop risk formulas, implement supplier scorecards, track cost of quality (COQ), or continually improve your processes based on CAPA learnings, you won’t be able to deliver the best and most financially beneficial quality oversight.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Start Where You Are. The first step is to track your COQ and build a business case to present to leadership. Don’t wait for more resources. Instead, start collecting and analyzing the data you have.
- Focus. Select a single quality issue, set a benchmark, and begin making improvements. Document and compare your results with your benchmark. Then, keep working to make measurable improvements.
- Research. SQM is a well-established field, so there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Research and learn from the experts in your industry. Keep yourself updated on regulatory changes from standards bodies like ASQ and ISO.
Don’t be daunted. By collecting even a small amount of historical data to show senior management and presenting evidence of how quality initiatives affect your bottom line, you’ll build a compelling case for your department. Showing a trend, such as fewer warranty claims and recalls, can help demystify the connection.
2. Difficult Communication with Suppliers
As important business partners, your suppliers can make or break your success. So, dealing with slow or faulty responses, poor communication, or compliance issues can be very real (and expensive) problems for your company.
Follow these tips to manage supplier communication:
- Document. Make sure your suppliers have easy access to information on your standard processes. This could include a simple step-by-step one-sheet, but make sure they can also review a detailed manual.
- Communicate. Don’t leave it up to individuals to track your organizational changes. When you update your processes, proactively communicate those changes to your suppliers.
- Build Relationships. To ensure your suppliers feel like true business partners, prioritize supplier relationship management. Being recognized for their contribution to your success, for example, can keep them invested in your business.
The more people you have on your side, the better. Remember: When your suppliers have a stake in your business success, they are more likely to work proactively to help you solve problems.
3. Lack of Visibility for Senior Management
All stakeholders need specific information to do their jobs effectively. Ad hoc requests can pull you away from important projects, so it’s important to be proactive in supplying the information they need. This is especially true for senior management.
Here are some tips for increasing visibility:
- Strategize. Create a stakeholder management strategy that accounts for all your stakeholders. Find out what information and metrics they need to do their jobs, and how they prefer it’s presented.
- Educate. Make sure you’re reporting on any COQ efforts you can accomplish with your current resources and detail how they’re affecting your company’s bottom line.
- Schedule. For the best results, set up a regular reporting schedule.
Being proactive and anticipating the needs of your stakeholders will reduce ad hoc requests and save you time. It also gives you a regular voice at the table, which could help you garner resources for your programs in the future.
4. Too Many Manual, Repetitive Administrative Tasks
If you’re still using spreadsheets, you’re spending more time than you need to on handling documentation, communicating with stakeholders, and collecting data.
The sheer volume of information involved in SQM is reason enough to find a better solution. When you add scalability issues and data retrieval challenges with spreadsheets as your tool, you’re looking at an out-of-date system that prevents you from outperforming your competitors.
Quality management software — which helps you manage the same information, only better and faster — exists for almost every business size and budget.
By automating administrative tasks, you can gain back precious time, mitigate business risk, and reduce overhead costs.
5. Hard-to-Find or Lost Data
When you manually track quality data, you open yourself up to more human error, which can result in a loss of organizational knowledge. Quickly finding the most accurate and current documentation is a key part of SQM, so lost or missing data can be a costly hindrance.
To address this issue, consider automating your data collection and storage. Along with the benefits mentioned above, QMS software with a search feature can help you stay on top of your data by allowing you to search by any number of variables, from name and date to compliance status.
When you automate your data retrieval you can manage by exception, putting your attention where it’s needed most, so you can make the most of your limited budget and resources.
Despite conventional thinking that pits quality initiatives against budget, there’s a strong case to be made for the contrary. With adequate funding, your quality program can help your company save money — a win-win situation for every stakeholder in your community.
RizePoint offers a supplier quality management solution that helps you mitigate legal risks and better control quality and compliance, so you can spend more time building strategic programs. It’s an easy-to-use, streamlined solution at a price you can afford. Click —> here to learn more today.
A Fresh Approach to Quality Management Systems
Quality assurance (QA) programs tend to be complex and contain numerous moving parts, all of which you need to manage with limited time, budget, and resources. It’s easy to get bogged down. Sometimes the key to a better process is simply stepping back and refocusing your approach.
By bringing things back to the basics — in this case, your stakeholders and their goals — you can make QA more manageable. This doesn’t mean your system will be any less complex, but you will gain the benefit of faster, streamlined processes. When everyone is on the same page with the same set of protocols, you can develop a clear, informed action plan that everyone understands.
Read on for a step-by-step approach to this simplification process.
Your QA Program: Start Where You Are
QA work can be overwhelming. It ‘s easy to get wrapped up in perfectionism, which can make you feel as if you’re constantly spinning your wheels.
When it comes to QA, however, any sort of improvement is a valuable step in the right direction. Quality assurance is a cyclical learning process. The cycle can be broken down into four basic parts: Plan, Gather, See, and Act.
One basic tenet of a quality system is continuous improvement — and by this definition, there is no perfect. Recognize this and keep moving forward.
Step 1. Consider Stakeholders and Their Goals (Plan)
When you frame your business goals only in terms of risk management, you’re trapping yourself in a reactive management style. You may have to scramble to answer stakeholder requests or fix quality-related issues. A reactive approach also makes it difficult to plan ahead or strategize for unforeseen hiccups.
- Flip the Script: Take a proactive, strategic approach that puts your stakeholder objectives front and center. Reach out to your stakeholders to learn more about their goals and objectives. Solicit feedback on problems and discover insights around risk mitigation. Develop an action plan based upon stakeholder input. This strategy is part of a solid stakeholder management plan, a basic framework that anyone on your team can follow. With such a plan in place, everyone on your team will be better equipped to understand problems, prioritize tasks, and work toward remedies. A good stakeholder management plan is also scalable and flexible, which makes it easy to modify as company initiatives or stakeholder metrics change.
- Standardize and Communicate: Your efforts won’t be very effective unless your entire team is aware of your frameworks and expectations. The best way to make sure everyone is on the same page is to standardize your metrics and communicate this information clearly to all stakeholders. This will help create realistic expectations and deliverables.
Hot Tip: Think of each stakeholder as a customer. You already know that you need to understand your customer to market to them, and it’s no different with stakeholders. Use this worksheet [LINK?] to create simple personas to describe your stakeholders. If you get stuck, enlist the help of your marketing department — they’re accustomed to this type of exercise.
Step 2. Remember — Quality Management is Data Management (Gather)
Even though you deal with people and products, in one way or another you’re responsible for gathering (and storing) data. Inefficient storage of customer feedback, audits, supplier information, and certifications can cause big problems. If your paperwork is in many different places, stored deep in filing cabinets, or lost in convoluted email chains, you’re not working at peak efficiency.
Hot Tip: Some common solutions for document storage like Dropbox might work in the short-term, but they are not always scalable. Depending upon the size and needs of your organization, a QMS, EHSQ, or ERP may be a better choice. These systems can help you with analytics and reporting as well as with overall organization.
Step 3. See: Graduate from Spreadsheets for Better Visibility (See)
Having a lot of data and having the right data are two different things, so it’s important to pick your single source of information carefully. If your data is kept in spreadsheets, you’ll spend a lot of time locating, compiling, and delivering reports.
Instead, choose a platform that’s quick and scalable. Remember that data can expire, so being quick to analyze, develop insights, and act will increase your chances of success. Find a solution that will be able to grow and evolve with your company.
- Make it Automatic: Whatever software you choose, make sure reporting for all departments is automated. Many packages offer collection, aggregation, analysis, and reporting configured for your specific business goals and accessible in just a few clicks.
Hot Tip: Different stakeholders may need to see different data sets in different formats. A bar graph for one stakeholder may not satisfy another, so be sure you know and can plan for how stakeholders want to receive information.
Step 4. Use Insights to Drive Meaningful Action (Act)
Use your insights to take meaningful action. Update your internal information and bring staff up to speed. Fast, informed action will improve quality, safety, compliance, brand protection, and customer satisfaction.
- Act More, React Less: Use your insights to identify root causes, and then formally update your processes and protocols. Make sure staff are both aware of changes and equipped to implement them, including scheduling trainings.
- Go Back to the Beginning: This entire process is iterative, and that means even when something doesn’t work, you can (and should!) learn the lesson and start over. Accept that there is no perfect, static QA system. Learn from your mistakes (and your successes), adjust your plan, and improve your process in a clear, informed, and scalable way.
Hot Tip: When things don’t go as expected, try reframing your reaction. Ask yourself what you learned and how it will help you do better next time. Come up with a plan to proactively report failures to stakeholders, including an action plan for repair and prevention.
As a QA professional, you’re trained to value quality — but the process is continual and fluid. Accepting that perfection is fleeting — if not impossible — is a difficult but important part of doing your job well. These four steps will help you reframe the process and get better results.
RizePoint offers highly flexible and configurable quality management software that empowers people just like you collect, organize, and manage data around quality assurance and supplier quality management. Click —> here to learn more today.
How Tracking Supplier Quality Affects Your Bottom Line
As a quality professional, you’ve got a lot on your plate. So, it can be tempting to cut corners, especially if a cost-of-quality (COQ) system isn’t on your company’s list of priorities. It may be a challenge to find the time and managerial support to track and measure supplier quality, but it’s worth the effort. Doing so helps you deliver consistent quality with fewer recalls and reduced warranty costs, all of which affects your bottom line.
What Is Cost of Poor Quality?
Perhaps the easiest way to understand the concept of cost of poor quality (COPQ) is to imagine an organization in which all systems, processes, and products are perfect. In this case, there would be no COPQ.
The cost of poor quality represents just one part of the cost-of-quality methodology; the other part is the cost of good quality (COGQ). To calculate your overall COQ, add these two costs together:
Cost of Good Quality (COGQ) + Cost of Poor Quality (COPQ) = Cost of Quality (COQ)
If algebra isn’t your thing, try this truism: You have to spend money to make money. No matter how you approach your COQ, your company will pay. Your task is to decide whether to invest in COQ programs up front or pay a lot more later for recalls or warranty costs.
The good news is that you have the power to reduce the cost of poor quality, while increasing quality in your supplier programs.
(If you’re new to the COQ concept, or simply need a refresher, read more about it here.)
Why Is Tracking Cost of Poor Quality in Supplier Management Important?
In the manufacturing and service industries, studies have shown the cost of poor quality averages anywhere from 15-40% of sales. This can translate into millions of dollars over the course of a year, depending on the size of your business, but it always has a significant impact on your bottom line.
According to experts, reducing COPQ to just 10-15% of sales can transform a marginally successful company into a highly profitable one.
Unfortunately, just one in three organizations track COQ, according to an ASQ study. Even more concerning is the fact that many executives incorrectly believe their company’s COPQ is less than 5%. The reason why is clear: Many don’t understand the benefits of tracking their COQ, which leads them to prioritize investing in other areas.
To maximize your organization’s potential, it’s important to know your COPQ. Understanding this cost will help you accurately evaluate the effectiveness of your quality systems, assess the performance of each vendor, and identify problem areas as well as opportunities for improvement. COPQ is thus an important tool for managing and reducing risk.
How to Assess Your Company’s Cost of Quality
Implementing a COQ system will enable you to measure the impact of quality systems on business performance. Here’s how to get started:
- Reframe Your Approach
If managing your suppliers feels like a burden, it’s time to change your approach. (Or it may be time for an attitude adjustment, as your mother might say.) Stop thinking of tracking as a compliance burden, and start thinking of it as an opportunity to improve your supplier quality.
Working collaboratively to create programs relevant to your production standards not only benefits everyone involved but also helps your suppliers be more invested in quality. The result is better, more consistent quality, which keeps your boss, your suppliers, and your customers happy.
- Track and Measure Supplier Performance
Tracking performance can seem difficult and overly complex, especially if you’re doing it all manually in spreadsheets. But it’s important to remember that any COPQ tracking is better than none. So, start with what you have.
Maybe you have some historical data on supplier performance. Great! Aggregate the data and start looking for trends. You’re certain to stumble across something that needs your attention. Pay special attention to effective processes with positive results that you could incorporate into your programs.
If you’re starting from scratch, don’t despair. You have the opportunity to set benchmarks for supplier performance, which enable you to set realistic goals for improvements to your quality programs year after year.
Tracking supplier performance has an important benefit: It allows you to move toward conditional management (where you use your time and effort where it’s needed most) and away from continual management (where you monitor every supplier, all the time). By putting a bit of trust in your rock-star vendors, you’ll free up time and money to train and assist those who need it.
- Motivate Supplier Accountability
It’s normal to trace a certain amount of quality failure to your suppliers. The best way to manage this and reduce its future impact is to encourage accountability.
One way to do so is through a charge-back program. If you find that, due to your suppliers’ failures, product quality is low and recalls or warranties are high, such a program can hold the appropriate suppliers financially responsible. It also creates an incentive for your suppliers to help you identify and fix the root causes of poor quality.
- Create a Closed-Loop System
Inevitably, things fall through the cracks, but you can mitigate human error by creating a closed-loop system. Simple in concept, this involves three easy steps:
- Find the root cause. When tracking down a quality issue, it’s best to approach the task collaboratively. This will involve suppliers in a positive way, strengthening your management position.
- Create a clear plan and initiate CAPA. When you initiate corrective action, it’s key to have a written process to make expectations crystal clear for suppliers and other stakeholders. Once a problem is fixed, make sure to go back and identify a root cause so the same issues don’t happen repeatedly.
- Update your processes. When you’ve identified root causes during your CAPA process, you’ll need to make sure your quality processes and procedures are up to date to reflect your findings. Examples include updating documentation, upgrading the skill set of an employee, training or certifying suppliers, or making physical adjustments for quality and safety at the supplier location.
In a closed-loop system, your processes are documented and clearly communicated, which can help you align on goals and clarify your expectations with your suppliers. Using this system, you’ll find it easier to close gaps and reduce risk or quality issues. Tracking quality improvements might also help your company’s decision makers understand the importance of COQ initiatives and encourage them to spend a little up front to save a lot down the road.
Companies that fail to track and measure supplier quality are missing out on a great deal of useful information — data that can be harnessed to improve your organization’s overall quality and to reduce costly recalls and warranty claims. While implementing a COQ system can be daunting, it’s a worthwhile project that is sure to improve your bottom line.
RizePoint offers highly flexible and configurable quality management software that empowers people just like you collect, organize, and manage data around quality assurance and supplier quality management. Click —> here to learn more today.