One of the key challenges for operations managers is knowing when and how to invest in new technologies. For mid-market companies that need to balance financial and personnel investment against possible business returns, this can be particularly difficult. Supplier quality management (SQM) is an important part of running your business — and there are some powerful new innovations in this area — but you may not be in a position to capitalize on them just yet. That’s why we’ve identified three ways you can improve your SQM now, while preparing for an innovative future.
The Challenge of Effective SQM
If your supplier quality management processes are a little behind the times, you’re not alone. SQM not only involves tracking a wide variety of suppliers and products, but leveraging that information to develop strong business relationships while meeting your clients’ needs, keeping your costs down, and mitigating your risks. For many SQM professionals, that means keeping track of countless data points spread across emails, spreadsheets, databases, and even paper files. As a result, it’s not unusual for them to spend significant amounts of time just on administrative tasks.
Developers have addressed some of these issues with technological solutions, designed to help SQM professionals work more efficiently. The most cutting-edge software companies are beginning to leverage technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain to make this happen. But the truth is, most small- to mid-sized companies can’t afford the costs of implementing these technologies, let alone the cost to train personnel.
The good news is that, even if you’re not ready for AI or blockchain, you can still improve your SQM program. Here’s how to make progress today, while preparing for an innovative future:
1. Foster Strategic Partnerships
We are big believers in a strategic, proactive, and collaborative management style. This can mean looking beyond those on your company’s payroll for input. Consider this: Your business network comprises numerous suppliers — suppliers that you have carefully selected for their quality and professionalism. If one (or more) of them is doing something particularly effective, why not propose a strategic partnership? If it’s brokered properly, it’s sure to be a win-win situation.
2. Adopt Appropriate Technology
Just because you aren’t ready for a mammoth investment like enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, that doesn’t mean you can’t leverage technology to improve your processes. Look for flexible, customizable, and scalable quality management software that can help you define and refine your processes while giving you visibility into your performance.
3. Don’t Dismiss Thought Leadership
Using AI or blockchain might be beyond your company’s current capabilities, but that’s no reason to ignore these technologies. After all, they represent the future. So, make sure to read often and stay informed about cutting-edge changes in your industry. Take what you can from the experts.
For example, even without costly programmatic changes, you can look into improving your strategic supplier development. Armed with information on what the best in the business are doing, you can come up with an informed and intelligent solution that pushes your business forward, now.
Operational changes — especially ones that require learning new technologies — can be daunting, but when it comes to SQM it’s important to stay current. The good news is that even small- and mid-sized companies can take advantage of the advances in their field by fostering relationships with their suppliers, choosing appropriate technology, and staying on top of thought leadership.
RizePoint offers quality management software that empowers people just like you collect, organize, and manage data around quality assurance and supplier quality management. The software is highly flexible and configurable to your specific needs, giving you the value you need from an ERP-type solution without the huge price tag. Click —> here to learn more today.