Modern Quality Management Without Paper or Clipboards


Does this scenario sound familiar? You’re the Director of Quality for a manufacturing organization. As you perform your gemba walk, you observe your team doing their day-to-day data collection on a paper traveler, noting hourly production targets vs. actual, as well as rework and rejection counts. Later that day or in the days following, all of the notes and information from that paper form are manually entered into a spreadsheet. The report is printed out or stored locally where stakeholders struggle to get the most up-to-date report. Unfortunately, by the time the production data is entered into a spreadsheet and analyzed, the information doesn’t match what’s currently happening on the shop floor. In fact, a problem that was uncovered just today could have been prevented had the previous days’ data been available to you in real time.  

These scenarios prevent you from effectively doing your job. You’re in reactive versus proactive mode daily, and it’s costing your company. Plus, you’re constantly dealing with inefficiencies when workers don’t collect or enter data in the same way each time. Instead of reducing the cost of quality, the current system creates substantial waste, which is in direct violation of lean process management and ISO 9001 standards.

Fortunately, a quality management system like TrackVia can collect the data you need and have it immediately available for anyone else who needs it. You no longer have to wait for the information to be manually entered into the computer and aggregated on a spreadsheet, and then emailed to you. With the convenience and security of an online QMS, notes and edits are immediately updated and reports are easily accessible. All of the data is up to date, resulting in smarter decision making that can have an immediate and positive impact on production lead times and reduction in cost of quality.

Why Change?

Manual data collection processes made sense for the limited tools that were available 10 years ago. Today, there are better tools. Just as it’s important to upgrade and retool machines on a production floor, it’s important to implement the most up-to-date tools for collecting data and monitoring quality in real time. When the best tools available were manila folders and file cabinets, a system was developed to maximize those tools. When carbon copies made duplicating information easier, forms were printed accordingly.

Inefficiency Impacts Cost of Quality

Paper- and spreadsheet-based processes are antiquated in today’s advanced manufacturing world. Snapshots (think paper forms and spreadsheets) tell people how things were. To be as lean and nimble as possible, directors of quality management need to know how things are. They need real-time data to improve the customer value chain and to gain end-to-end visibility into opportunities for process improvement and waste reduction. Without seeing the big picture, your organization is vulnerable to costly quality issues.

Implementing a quality management system empowers quality control heads to increase speed of production and improve production yield. Less time is spent updating out-of-date information, which frees up valuable time to ensure that current processes are in compliance with regulations. Additionally, real-time data minimizes the impact of unexpected situations since managers are able to react more quickly and with greater agility.

Retooling the Back Office

Retooling your back office doesn’t simply mean purchasing a new quality management system. It also involves retooling your organization’s mindset around how data is collected, managed and analyzed. Many manufacturing organizations still find “the cloud” to be a mystery. However, the advantage of an online quality management system is that it provides a centralized repository for everyone’s information, and can aggregate data from a number of departments and sources to provide a more complete, accurate picture of your business. Data is no longer compartmentalized in one area of the organization, or siloed to one person, and difficult to share between groups. With a collaborative online quality management system, workers on the shop floor and in the back office can quickly and easily access the information they need.

The key to widespread adoption of a modern quality management system is a simple, straightforward interface that is as intuitive for the frontline employee collecting data as it is for the manager analyzing the same data. Keep in mind that the most innovative cloud-based quality management applications take full advantage of today’s mobile technology. Additionally, as a business grows and processes change, your QMS should also grow and change. And making those changes shouldn’t require an expensive programmer or several months to execute. A complete quality management system will provide all of these options from day one.

What Can Be Gained From Modern Quality Management?

A modern quality management system provides up-to-date, real-time feedback on everything in the manufacturing process. It will increase efficiencies and reduce unknowns. It will allow for teams to make continuous improvements in ways they are overlooking with the snapshot data they get now. Today, the question isn’t how much will it cost to upgrade, but how much it costs not to upgrade.

Interested in learning more about how TrackVia can help your organization better collect and manage its quality data? Go here to learn more.