Regardless of if you are currently managing your Quality Processes in Word or with an Electronic Quality Management System (eQMS), if you are considering changing the tool, then you need to make sure that the timing is right.
Changing your Quality System software can be complicated, much like changing the rail tracks while the train is running. While some trepidation is understandable, not making a change when your organisation has outgrown your current tool may be an even bigger threat to your stability and growth. Let me assure you that a smooth transition is both possible and, in many cases, less complex than you might imagine. The trick is to make sure that the timing is right to make that change.
Understanding the constraints
Before you dive in, the first place to start with are the non-negotiables:
- Plan to safeguard your team’s ability to stay on task with managing the daily influx of non-conformities, internal and external audits, and so on.
- Keep focused on prioritising product development and other operational processes, including QA — the eQMS project resourcing needs to work around this constraint, not against it.
Meet the prerequisites
Beyond considering constraints, it’s essential you understand the requirements of transitioning to a new tool:
- Ensure the project is scoped correctly: Often eQMS projects are massive beasts with ambitious scopes. That’s fine as a strategic, long-term vision. However, the best way to deliver an impactful project in a fast-moving, constrained environment is to break the project down into smaller, achievable steps or phases. Then you can deliver these changes based on business priorities. The benefits of approaching a sweeping eQMS evolution through an incremental process include:
- Requires maintaining only a short term effort, which is far easier to manage than upholding a concerted long-term effort.
- Delivers business value quickly, one burst at a time. This helps keep up motivation and momentum.
- Provides a feedback loop that naturally leads to the next bite-sized steps of the project.
- Assign ownership: Choose a point person with enough clout and authority to manage objections, allocate resources, and make decisions.
- “Know thy laws”: The goal is to remove waste from your Quality System, so the baseline is knowing what is legally required. From there, remove anything else that is not valuable.
- Get the stakeholders’ buy-in: Quality Management tools are never delivered in a vacuum. Stakeholders’ objections need to be understood and addressed. Any issue that is not resolved imposes an increased risk to the successful completion.
Making the shift to a new platform for your eQMS can feel daunting, and sometimes, it’s for a good reason. By looking carefully at constraints and prerequisites that affect the success of the transition, you’ll be able to make an informed decision. If you need guidance or an unbiased opinion, we’re here to help.