Advances in technology have the potential to revolutionize all industries, but especially those dealing with large amounts of data. When managing supplier quality, the benefits are clear: New technologies can simplify, enhance, and streamline organizational processes, resulting in improved business decisions, reduced costs, and minimized risks. As your single source of truth, they also enable you to quickly collect, sort, analyze, and retrieve supplier information — making your job a breeze.
But transitioning from traditional to digital supplier quality management (SQM) is fraught with concerns. While these concerns may be legitimate, “digital dread” — the anxiety sparked by the overwhelming task of transitioning from an existing system to a new, digital one — should never prevent you from making business improvements. Read on to learn how to overcome these issues and improve your SQM processes.
How New Technologies Affect Supplier Quality Management
Supplier quality management involves the collection, organization, and management of an enormous amount of information. When managing supplier quality, you have to track your preferred suppliers as well as all of the products associated with each one, while maintaining up-to-date records, which must be available to overseeing bodies on demand. At the same time, you must keep notes on supplier relationships to ensure they’re strong, healthy, and efficient. It’s a massive job for anyone to take on.
As SQM has developed over time, so too have the methods for tracking supplier information. The reality is that many SQM professionals currently use a system cobbled together with bits of information housed across spreadsheets — in the cloud, email, and even paper files. Even if the person responsible knows exactly where to locate something, the organization is vulnerable since it depends on a single employee. And that’s the best-case scenario.
The reality is that spreadsheets were not designed for strategic use. Matt Davidson, vice president of product and marketing with data analytics company, Locix, pinpoints the problem: “Everyone talks about the importance of data, but the bigger thing is how you get information out of it — how you make sure you’re collecting the right data to make the right decisions.” Collecting data is one thing, but no company can maximize their potential without easy access to the insights derived from it.
How to Overcome Digital Dread
There’s no way around it: If you want to maximize your SQM, you’re going to need better tools. It’s a daunting prospect but the good news is that approaching it strategically can help you achieve a smooth transition:
- Think Incrementally. There are existing cycles within every business, such as times for updating processes or equipment, when there’s an expected low period of activity, or when other changes (like onboarding new employees) are already disrupting everyday operations. If you’re strategic, you can take advantage of these natural breaks to make changes incrementally. Doing so will reduce the financial and operational impact of the change and also prevent the need for organization-wide training. By imagining a roll-out of new technology in phases, you can minimize organizational disruption and anxiety.
- Set Goals. Now that you’ve decided to move forward in phases, it makes sense to set attainable goals for each phase of the roll-out. Not only will this help move your overall project forward, it provides a measure of success so you can stay on top of potential problems. Map out your goals beforehand — and make sure they’re executable. Examples include fewer out-of-stock incidents, faster time-to-market, or less unexpected downtime.
- Build a Priority List. Set out what you want to achieve in each phase of your transition, so you can effectively plan for it. Consider, for example, whether you want to focus on compliance or suppliers relationships first. This will give shape to each step of your strategy.
- Be Transparent About Funding. Cash flow is an issue that cannot be ignored. Rather than avoiding upgrades, which can lead to larger expenses down the road, be strategic and upfront about what you can afford and when. Look into solutions you can implement incrementally. Having your funding sorted will reduce your overall stress and ensure a smooth transition.
Digital dread is understandable but it shouldn’t incapacitate you or your business. Taking a considered, strategic, and incremental approach to improving your SQM systems will reduce organizational stress, resulting in more effective operations.
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 ERP-type solution at a price you can afford. Click —> here to learn more today.