Quality management systems (QMS) are an important tool in a corporate company’s toolbox. Even minor instances of inconsistent quality can have major revenue implications, so it’s important to have a system in place that can quickly identify quality issues and take action to fix them.
However, before you can choose the right QMS for your organization, it is important to understand the basics of quality management and the benefits that this type of software can offer.
What is a quality management system?
Quality management systems are designed to help businesses ensure that their products meet industry standards. This software helps manufacturers maintain product consistency so that customers receive the same quality standard with every purchase.
QMS platforms are common in highly regulated manufacturing industries such as medical devices, automobiles, food and beverages, but they can also be applied in many other areas. Most businesses in any industry and any size – be it a small family business or a large multinational corporation – can benefit from the use of quality management principles and tools.
To be effective and successful, quality management initiatives must include two main processes: quality assurance and quality control.
Quality Assurance (QA) refers to the systems and plans in place to create satisfactory products. QA is proactive quality assurance in the manufacturing or development process – the goal is to prevent defects from the start. Because of this, QA is very broad in nature.
Quality control (QC) refers to the activities that confirm that a product meets or exceeds its quality objectives. It focuses entirely on products that have already been created and includes rigorous testing, inspection and sampling to ensure consistent product quality. Issues that arise during QC checks may require further study of QA. Because of this, QC is narrower than QA.
What are the benefits of using a QMS?
There are many benefits to implementing a quality management system, including greater compliance, simplified management, increased efficiency, and improved customer satisfaction.
More stringent compliance
The main purpose of a quality management system is to help businesses maintain compliance by recording quality performance at every stage of the manufacturing process. This not only monitors and confirms that companies are meeting their quality standards, but also means that they will be prepared with sufficient documentation in the event of an audit.
Similarly, QMS platforms consolidate all compliance documentation into a single platform, which is extremely useful for national or multinational corporations with multiple suppliers in the supply chain. The simplified management system means that businesses do not need to maintain multiple sources of documentation to ensure that third party partners are up to acceptable standards.
Implementing a quality management system helps reduce the routine or redundant work that results from manually tracking quality data. This allows employees to spend their time and effort on more important tasks that have a greater impact.
QMS platforms can also help businesses more quickly identify systemic causes of repetitive errors that impact profitability and efficiency, such as poor product design or equipment failures. This will make it easier for teams to find solutions to these problems and avoid bottlenecks or delays.
Increasing customer satisfaction
QMS solutions increase product consistency, which in turn improves customer satisfaction. When quality varies greatly from one purchase to the next, consumers are more likely to look for more reliable alternatives. An effectively implemented quality management system helps to avoid nonconformities and increase customer loyalty, thereby maintaining a competitive advantage.
How to choose QMS
Most quality management systems are industry-specific and based on at least one set of ISO standards. Some QMS platforms can integrate other management approaches such as Six Sigma and Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI).
Common features to look for in a QMS platform include document management, audit management, risk management, vendor or vendor management, and change control.
However, there is no one size fits all approach when it comes to navigating through the types of quality management systems that are available today. Each company has specific needs for a QMS system depending on its size, industry and other needs.
If you are ready to choose a QMS platform, start by browsing our list The best software for quality management systems to learn more about the different QMS solutions available across industries.