Democracy lives from participation

AI-supported data analysis, mobile system access, measurement data collection via voice bot, automation of routine tasks, and so on and so forth – rarely have the conditions been more favorable for exploiting the advantages of a QMS throughout a company. But be careful: the democratization of quality management is not just about data. The first step is to change old habits and thus create the basis on which the new IT offerings can take hold.

No question. The plan to involve specialist departments more closely and establish a transfer of knowledge at eye level is almost as old as QM itself. However, the success of these programs has been rather limited so far. What is the reason for this? One major reason is certainly that quality management is still a fairly young discipline in the eyes of many. The fact that the first great heyday was thirty years ago does little to change this. Nevertheless, the reputation of the newcomer sticks to the QM representatives (QMB). And associated with this is the notion that they would do well to familiarize themselves a little more than they have in the past with the feasibilities of the practice.

Certainly, such a view can be questioned. But the truth is also that more than a few quality managers, whether intentionally or unintentionally, have contributed to this. After all, it was precisely in the early years that people went about securing the company’s various certifications with great, and sometimes perhaps too great, determination. Since this always involved access to customers, quality management developed into a staff function under the management or production management.

And so it can hardly come as a surprise that many departmental colleagues limit their contact with QM to properly supplying the data required of them. What quality principles the departments then follow in their own practice is a completely different matter in many places. After all, how the development teams, the shop floor or customer service organize quality is largely left up to the departments themselves. The fact that they then access the eQMS solutions already in place is still the exception.

Correct sequence

The vast majority of companies now want to change this. But what is the most clever way to reconcile the needs of the practice and the offerings of quality management? At this point, it seems obvious that a great deal could be achieved by using current QMS training courses to familiarize colleagues with the new application possibilities of their eQMS. In reality, however, this would be taking the second step before the first. After all, democratizing quality management is first and foremost a change process. QMBs and departments must find a common language and agree on a consistent approach on this basis. Only in the second step is it a matter of showing the users how they can complete their to-dos in a modern QMS – with maximum ease of use and maximum increase in knowledge.
Both tasks, change management and the IT transformation that builds on it, are the focus of two more articles that will appear here on the QDA blog in the coming weeks.