By Vivek Bhachawat
Quality has become the back-bone of successful business operations today. Every OEM/manufacturer stresses that their product quality is far superior to their competitors. The nature of international business is such that quality has become an order qualifier and is considered the primary consideration by the customers. To have a superior hold on their quality issues, operations managers around the world look at Statistical Tools and information systems. Without the help of modern information systems, getting a grasp of quality issues and dealing with them in real-time becomes very complex and time consuming. A quality management system can help manufacturers get a hold on their quality efforts, but the application of such systems should be done with extreme caution.
Every process is unique and faces a distinct set of issues both long term and contingent. In such a case a general Quality Management System or QMS can prove to be an impediment rather than a facilitator of the Quality endeavor. What organizations need to understand is that the one size fits all theory does not work in the case of production processes and any IT application should be carefully designed specifically for the organization’s processes to bear fruition. There are however some generalizations that can be made pertaining to the basic functionality that a QMS should have, let’s look at them here. A QMS should be able to provide potent information about the important process metrics, highlight quality issues and help in root cause analysis. But the over-all application of a QMS would depend drastically on how the process actually is and what is the present orientation towards product/process quality.
An ideal QMS would be able to adapt itself to the process and provide its users real-time, actionable information regarding all quality issues, and help them by providing an SPC application to ensure any occurrence can be assigned a cause and can be analyzed with the adapt at the systems disposal. There are also certain value added features that a QMS can provide pertaining to performance appraisal, process appraisal, process/product improvement and overall process efficiency. These features and their applicability are a function of the process owner’s needs and the capability of the service provider. With the emergence of TQM, Six Sigma, Lean and Lean Six Sigma, the importance of Quality Management Systems has escalated, what companies need to decide is the level of proficiency and depth of analysis they want for their operation and then select a suitable partner to provide for their needs. To be reasonably successful in your operation also a QMS is a must, but to be the leader in your industry, the Quality of your QMS becomes quite important. So while selecting a partner for application of a QMS bear in mind what you need and how can the QMS provider meet and exceed your needs with their applications.