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Managing Quality in the Technological Age

Quality is a factor in any business, the importance of a quality management system ranges anywhere from “Essential” in industries like Air Travel, and Automotive to “Important” in businesses such as event planning, and consulting. Some industries are required by the government to meet a certain standard, and some are simply required by the big players in their client base. One thing is consistent in all industries, the long term success of a business is dependent on the adoption of a quality management system in some form. If errors are allowed to be repeated, they will eventually erode a business.
Quality management software is the technological solution for managing quality. It represents the latest generation of quality management systems and poses a significant opportunity to any type of business.
Quality and Resistance to Technology
Although the SaaS (Software as a Service) concept has been around for some time now in many industries, it seems to be a slower transition in the quality space. Many companies established their quality management systems years ago which are based in word, excel, and sometimes even physical paper. Quality systems face a strong resistance to change, the stakeholders remember how hard it was to condition employees to follow new compliance procedures and don’t want to do it all over for the sake of going digital. Sometimes they think switching to a quality management software is cost-prohibitive, especially in the small to medium business space. They settle in knowing their current system is going to get them certified, but this mentality puts these slow-movers at-risk.
The idea that overhauling a quality management system will drain company resources is an archaic one. Yes, the last time the business implemented a quality management system, it was painful. It was done on the backs of Microsoft documents, it depended on certain people to remember all the “if this, then that” triggers. It required the same information to be written out on form after form. That is all very difficult and very bureaucratic, it’s no wonder there is trauma from the memory of that implementation, the neophobia is completely justified.
It’s time to start challenging this fear of change because a divide will form between those that adopt a quality management software and those that don’t. Those that do will see a significant drop in quality management hours and therefore, a drop in overhead. These companies will be able to offer their customers better prices and better quality all at once.
The idea that switching to a quality management software will be painful is a fallacy. When a quality system is already in place, there are very few adaptations required of the employees. They need to login to a new interface, maybe some format changes from the old forms, but otherwise, it’s asking them to do MUCH less. Our clients have reported saving as much as 25% of their quality management time, or saving them from making additional hires. Many clients have reported an easy transition, sometimes the switch is flipped in a matter of a day.
Quality Management Software Adapting to Needs
At Isolocity, we have adapted our software to meet the needs of a diverse range of clients. Our initial build left us with a software that drove the quality management process automatically for those needing: specification management and inspection, real time SPC, CAPA, document control, internal auditing, inventory management, HR management, equipment management, and/or supply chain management. Among the more exciting technological adaptations are:

  • Mobility

Many users of our system are inherently moving while on the job, and use their mobile devices to capture photo documentation, we married these requirements with our functionality.

  • User based permissions

Not all information in a company should necessarily be accessed by all employees, we mirrored this need by allowing our clients to maintain everything within their system and restrict information as needed.

  • e-Signatures

When moving to online, how do you maintain the accountability the way a written signature does on paper? Some standards (for instance Part 11 of FDA regulations) require signatures in many processes, we were able to build this right into the software.

  • External Delegation & Communication

We reduced our clients’ work efforts by allowing their vendors to participate directly in their system, for instance, many CAPA documents are completed by vendors, we made it so they can do this directly in our clients’ systems.
On The Horizon of Quality Management Software
We have our sights set on a few technological trends that we feel will be relevant to quality in the future, here are a few of the more exciting ones:

  • IOT and AI

With the advent of smart fridges, smart slow cookers, and even smart garbage cans it’s clear any “thing” can be made smart. As more of a business’ equipment and supplies become smart, the quality management software will be able to capture more information and use less human input. Imagine a smart caliper sending product inspection measurements directly to the system, or a smart machine shutting down automatically when SPC goes out of tolerance. Or a smart spectrometer, a smart hotel cleaning cart, the list goes on. Imagine this layered with AI, predicting problems before they even happen.

  • Open Source API’s and Webhooks

Products like Zapier and IFTTT have made webhooking popular and easy. At Isolocity, we are mindful that a quality management software should communicate with other business software. We are currently turning our focus to integrating with accounting and retail software but the broader vision is to allow client-made integrations through services like Zapier or an open sourced API. Of course this is treacherous, how do we manage the quality of the service once we’ve handed it’s development out to the masses?

  • Augmented Reality

Imagine you could take a photo of a product prototype and its specifications are automatically uploaded to the quality management software. Imagine if inspection was done entirely by camera and the inspection data was uploaded automatically. Complete a 5S audit at the click of a camera… Technology is not far from this reality.
Join the Technological Journey of Quality Management
We live and breath technology because we love the idea of passive production, we want to enable our clients to produce top quality outputs while minimizing the time they have to spend on production. There is so much the quality management software industry has already accomplished to that end, the earlier your company jumps on this wave, the more you will get out of it.
About The Author
Chris Budd is the Co-founder of Isolocity, a quality management software designed to drive customized quality management systems for a wide variety of companies. Isolocity supports the management of formal systems such as ISO 9001 and other standards in the ISO family, HACCP, GMP, FDA, and most custom quality systems.