Keys to Implementing a Quality Management System

What to include in your QMS Implementation Plan

Implementing a quality management system (QMS) can be challenging for an organization, but it’s not an impossible task. Too often, manufacturers rush through the QMS implementation process, which inevitably leads to a poorly implemented and deployed system. Poorly implemented quality management systems can lock in inefficiencies, resulting in a lower than desired ROI. To avoid any potential mistakes, it’s important to create a QMS implementation plan that covers several key elements.

Creating Your QMS Implementation Plan: What to Consider

As you go through the steps of implementing a quality management system in your organization, keep these key elements in mind:

Corporate Commitment to Quality

One of the most important elements of a successful QMS implementation is a commitment by upper management to improve quality. ISO specifically cites the necessity of a commitment to quality from upper levels of management. Too often, this level of quality commitment does not extend further down the various levels of company leadership. In this scenario, both the level of quality and cost of quality suffer.

Establishing a sound QMS implementation team is one way to combat this unintended consequence. In conjunction with implementation experts, every department should have a voice in reevaluating and planning quality management from an enterprise-wide perspective. Choosing a skilled quality management representative is essential in order to communicate quality objectives and company goals to all stakeholders.

It’s also important for an organization to have a well-defined Quality Policy, which serves as a general statement of the organization’s commitment to quality. This is more than just a slogan, it should be written, documented, communicated, and enforced by upper management. Here’s an example of a Quality Policy“XYZ Products is committed to manufacturing cutting edge products of an extremely high quality to our existing and growing customer base in an accurate and timely manner. We satisfy customer and ISO 9001:2015 requirements and continually improve our processes to enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.”

Employee Training and Company Culture

Employee awareness and training should also be a part of your QMS implementation plan. Without a commitment from management to foster a culture of quality, this step in the QMS implementation process will likely fall short. Your employees are an invaluable asset of effective quality management, and too many manufacturers neglect to breed a high level of quality awareness. To achieve cost gains from an integrated quality management system, this knowledge of quality needs to go beyond internal email alerts.

A carefully planned QMS implementation hinges on establishing a manufacturer’s current baseline level of quality. This assessment phase is arguably the most critical aspect of QMS implementation. This step can serve as a golden opportunity for companies to reduce wasteful practices and rethink quality management as a whole. Without a careful assessment of the current state of quality, documenting your QMS implementation plan will not be as effective.

Document Control Issues

Another common pitfall of QMS implementation is the consistent inadequacy of document control practices. Inadequate documentation is well known as a cause of nonconformance issues, yet manufacturers repeatedly fail to account for this requirement. Manufacturers must plan to document each process and quality-related metric appropriately. For example, calibration is ubiquitous in the manufacturing industry, yet companies still fail to plan to document the scheduling and results of routine calibration projects.

RELATED: Managing Documentation with a Quality Management System (QMS)

Implement Your Quality Management System

Carefully planning your QMS implementation helps avoid missing opportunities to eliminate waste and improve efficiency. In the worst-case scenario, unforeseen problems can become locked into recently deployed software, creating quality-related issues in the long run. To yield optimal results, proper planning is an essential first step when implementing a new quality management solution.