Increasing the efficiency of your Quality Management System (QMS) should be a no-brainer. When you invest in an efficient QMS, you discover new growth opportunities, improve customer satisfaction, and gain a competitive edge. Improving the efficiency of your QMS can help you achieve business and quality management goals.
Standards such ISO 9001 are (relatively) straightforward on how to create a basic QMS. However, the steps in increasing the efficiency of a QMS are less obvious.
Efficiency vs. Effectiveness: What's the Difference?
When it comes to quality management, it's imperative to understand the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.
- Efficiency — performing in the best possible way with minimal waste of time and effort.
- Effectiveness — performing adequately to accomplish a certain goal.
In short, efficiency is doing things right while effectiveness is doing the right things.
If the QMS allows you to achieve set business goals but demands too much effort, time, and money to do so, it may be effective but inefficient. In this case, you need to focus on increasing its efficiency, thus improving quality management ROI.
What Does an Efficient QMS Look Like?
An efficient quality management system excels at seven quality principles:
- Customer focus — channeling sufficient labor and resources into meeting customers' needs and expectations.
- Leadership — building an active leadership team that provides the necessary resources and support for employees to achieve quality-related goals.
- Engagement of people — empowering and engaging employees throughout the company to facilitate business goal achievement.
- Process approach — taking the right approach to understanding and managing interrelated processes.
- Continuous improvement — focusing on ongoing improvements to maintain high quality and performance levels regardless of market and industry changes.
- Evidence-based decision making — making quality management and business decisions based solely on facts, evidence, and data analytics.
- Relationship management – maintaining and honing relationships with partners and other parties like suppliers and vendors.
By evaluating your QMS efficiency on a regular basis, you can keep your business from unnecessary quality management expenses. If at least one of the seven quality principles is lacking, the entire system could suffer.
5 Ways to Increase QMS Efficiency
If you believe that your effective quality management system needs an efficiency boost, consider the following ways to achieve it.
Simplify Your Quality Manual
While the quality manual is the documentary power behind your quality management system, it doesn't have to be long and complicated. The quality manual needs to communicate the management's expectations for quality to the organization and serve as a compliance measure.
By designing a complex quality manual, you risk failing to communicate core aspects to employees while boring and confusing customers and auditors. You also risk making the quality manual too complex to follow.
Here are a few ways to simplify your manual:
- Use flowcharts — use flowcharts to identify the basics of the company's processes and the way they interact.
- Improve readability — use short sentences and paragraphs and add descriptive headings, implement graphics for procedures when possible.
- Choose a brochure form — a quality manual in a form of a brochure is easy to read and comprehend by both clients and employees.
A quality manual is never a finished document. You can adjust it continuously to ensure better QMS efficiency.
Automate Your Document Control System
The amount of data your company has to deal with is enormous. Managing your documents manually doesn't just take time; it keeps employees from focusing on their core tasks and increases opportunities for making errors.
A high-quality document control system is the key to quality management compliance. Automating it allows you to create, route, review, and approve documents in the fastest and most accurate manner possible.
To start with document control automation, choose a suitable automated document control software for your business.
Emphasize a Quality-Driven Culture
Even with all the necessary guidelines in place, it's hard to implement an efficient QMS without a quality-driven culture. This culture involves creating an environment in which all employees genuinely care about the quality of their work. Instead of focusing on each separate task, they see the full picture and understand how to contribute to the final product's quality.
To implement a quality-driven culture, you need to help employees understand the importance of their contribution and help them care about the company's bottom line by:
- Clearly defining company values
- Implementing quality culture training
- Supporting your quality ideas with evidence
- Being an example to your employees
- Making quality personal
- Encouraging the competitive spirit
- Providing all the necessary resources to emphasize the quality-driven culture
- Listening to employees' suggestions and acting upon them.
- Communicating clearly with regulators.
Building a quality-driven culture can increase efficiency while generally improving working conditions.
Bring on an External Expert
While the deployment of a QMS can be done smoothly without external assistance, remediating QMS problems on your own can be difficult. Companies often struggle to figure out what keeps their quality management system from being as efficient as possible.
The very system designed with intent to improve consistency and quality can be so complex that it is unclear and full of non-value added and redundant requirements.
That's where external experts come in. They can diagnose and fix issues with the QMS as well as offer valuable advice for its further improvement and maintenance. They provide an outside perspective coupled with years of experience in their field.
Improving QMS efficiency is an ongoing process. Revisiting the above seven principles and efficiency tips regularly can help your business stay on top of its game.
Want to learn more about QMS development, improvement, remediation, and strategy? Get a free consultation when you contact Medpoint.