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Mehul Shah

Quality Insider

Why More Organizations Are Planning EQMS Adoptions

More affordable, and now more necessary

Published: Monday, October 6, 2014 - 15:49

Over the past several years, the LNS Research analyst team has been enjoying front-row seats to the quality management arena. We’ve collected data from more than 1,000 different quality management leaders, and have personally spoken to a good portion of them. Our analysis is showing many different trends, but one that’s standing out is the rising awareness and adoption of enterprise quality management software (EQMS).

Twenty-one percent of companies reported currently having an EQMS solution implemented in 2014. What is more interesting, however, and seems to be accelerating during the past decade, is that 40 percent of organizations reported currently being in the planning stages of an EQMS adoption.

The benefits of taking this platform approach to quality with EQMS are vast, and we’ll get into those later. But first, let’s talk about the mounting challenges that are driving the need for a next-generation solution in the first place.

The need for continuous improvement tools and quality processes

Whenever costs—and consequently profits—are affected in some way, we can almost always assume quality is involved. For this reason, companies have been working for some time now to monitor, control, and improve their quality. Today, however, the implications of quality have evolved well beyond costs. Now, executives must juggle additional factors such as global supplier networks, dynamic regulatory requirements, and more.

Fortunately, the continuous improvement tools and processes available to alleviate pressures from these challenges have come a long way, each continuing to advance and become more pervasive in the manufacturing environment. Today, you’d be hard-pressed to visit a relatively mature quality organization without seeing some type of solution for the following:
• Corrective and preventive action management
• Audit management
• Change management
• Risk management
• Quality reporting
• Regulatory compliance management
• Supplier quality management
• Document management
• Statistical process control

These solutions are designed to both control and ensure product and process quality. When leveraged effectively they do a good job at that, but for a number of reasons, organizations aren’t getting the most out of them.

From paper-based solutions to point solutions

Despite our technology-oriented world, in many cases companies are still reliant on manual interaction, homegrown solutions, and spreadsheets. Companies simply haven’t made the investment to automate their quality processes. In other cases, more mature companies may have deployed point software solutions to streamline quality processes and workflows, which often bring other challenges to the surface. Namely, the solution deployed may have been implemented to fix a local problem or set of problems, and didn’t account for the broader enterprise or the long-term vision of quality.

What’s left is an incomplete, disjointed view of quality and inefficient methods for managing it—not to mention major challenges with acquiring data and the data’s actual integrity. Effectively, companies are asking employees to manage complex things like global supplier process quality or quality risk with a number of different systems and data sources that don’t communicate with one another. It’s almost as if they’re being inadvertently set up to fail.

At a time where the business environment is becoming more complex, competitive, and global, the opposite needs to be happening. Consolidation, standardization, automation—this is where EQMS takes the stage.

From point solutions to quality platforms

We’re hearing more about executives wanting to converge all of these different quality systems and data sources into a singular, holistic solution. Today’s EQMS solutions are capable of that, and actually much more. Because they’re designed to easily integrate with other quality data sources in other enterprise applications like ERP, PLM, and MOM, EQMS systems enable communication and collaboration not only within the manufacturing environment, but also across the value chain.

There was a time not too long ago where robust, scalable EQMS functionality was only affordable for organizations with large quality budgets. But advancements to cloud-based technology have transformed this software category. Today, it’s realistic for companies of all sizes to extend the benefits of automation, centralization, and process standardization delivered by EQMS throughout the enterprise—across multiple plants and even geographies. In fact, we see this as a driver behind the growing number of companies in the planning stages of an adoption.

Another driver of adoption is the modularity of some of today’s solutions. For some large organizations, taking a modular approach—for instance, deploying an enterprisewide CAPA solution and then other modules over timeis optimal. With this strategy, ROI can be quickly demonstrated, rather than waiting for an entire implementation.

Finally, because of the effect of quality in nearly all operational areas, we’re seeing a whole new set of solution providers investing in deep quality management functionality. It’s becoming increasingly common for PLM, ERP, and MOM vendors to offer EQMS functionality and even suites of functionality to meet users’ needs. Numerous EQMS acquisitions also have been made by these other enterprise providers. This has all provided opportunities for companies that may not have invested in quality functionality to do so. And while life sciences companies have traditionally led the way in EQMS adoption, other industries, such as CPG, electronics, and food and beverage, are seeing the benefits and jumping on the bandwagon, too. This is a trend that we at LNS Research expect to see continue in the future.


About The Author

Mehul Shah’s picture

Mehul Shah

Mehul Shah is a senior associate at LNS Research, developer of solutions for industrial operations management. Shah builds solutions that will help executives leverage results from research. Shah has experience in managing quantitative and quality research projects and has provided practical insights to senior executives to improve operational and financial performance. He is a recognized speaker on various topics including sustainability, asset management, and quality management.