Quality management systems (QMS) are a critical tool in an enterprise company’s toolkit. Even minor instances of inconsistent quality can have major revenue implications, so it’s essential to have a system in place that can quickly identify quality issues and take steps to remediate them.
However, before you can choose the right QMS for your organization, it’s important to understand the basics of quality management and the benefits this kind of software can offer.
What is a quality management system?
Quality management systems are designed to help businesses ensure their goods are meeting industry standards. This software helps manufacturers maintain product consistency, so customers will receive the same standard of quality with each purchase.
QMS platforms are common in heavily regulated manufacturing industries such as medical equipment, automotive, and food and beverage, but they have applications for many other areas as well. Most businesses in any industry and of any size—whether that’s a small family business or a large, multinational corporation—can benefit from using the principles and tools of quality management.
To be effective and successful, quality management initiatives must incorporate two main processes: quality assurance and quality control.
Quality assurance (QA) refers to the systems and plans in place to create satisfactory goods. QA is about proactively ensuring quality during the manufacturing or development process—the goal is to prevent defects from the beginning. Because of this, QA is very broad in its nature.
Quality control (QC) refers to the actions that confirm a product meets or exceeds its quality objectives. It’s entirely focused on the goods that have already been created, and it involves rigorous testing, inspections, and sampling to ensure consistent product quality. Issues that arise in QC checks may warrant further QA scrutiny. Because of this, QC is more narrow than QA.
What are the benefits of using a QMS?
There are many benefits of adopting a quality management system, including stronger compliance, streamlined management, improved efficiency, and better customer satisfaction.
The main goal of a quality management system is to help businesses maintain compliance by recording quality metrics at each step of the production process. Not only does this track and confirm that companies are meeting their quality standards, but it also means that they will be prepared with sufficient documentation in the event of an audit.
Similarly, QMS platforms consolidate all compliance documentation into a single platform, which is extremely helpful for national or multinational corporations with numerous vendors in the supply chain. A streamlined management system means that businesses don’t have to maintain multiple sources of documentation to confirm that third-party partners are meeting acceptable standards.
Implementing a quality management system helps reduce rote or redundant work that results from manually tracking quality data. This frees up workers to spend their time and effort on more important tasks that make a more significant impact.
QMS platforms can also help businesses more quickly identify systemic causes of repeat errors that impact profitability and efficiency, such as poor product designs or equipment failures. It’s then easier for teams to identify solutions to these challenges and avoid any bottlenecks or delays.
Better customer satisfaction
QMS solutions increase product consistency, which in turn improves customer satisfaction. When quality varies widely from one purchase to the next, consumers are likely to look for more reliable alternatives. An effectively implemented quality management system helps avoid inconsistencies and drive customer loyalty, thereby maintaining a competitive advantage.
How to choose a QMS
Most quality management systems are tailored to particular industries and based on at least one set of ISO standards. Some QMS platforms may integrate other management approaches, such as Six Sigma and Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI).
General features to look for in a QMS platform include document management, audit management, risk management, supplier or vendor management, and change control.
However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to navigating the types of quality management systems that are available today. Each company has specific needs for a QMS system based on its size, industry, and other needs.
If you’re ready to choose a QMS platform, start by reviewing our list of the Best Quality Management System Software to learn more about the different kinds of QMS solutions that are available across various industries.