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The Truth about QMS platforms vs. alternatives

It remains a bottleneck for many companies—do we opt for a quality management system or do we prefer one of the many alternatives? All solutions have their strengths, but they aren’t always the right solution to stay compliant and get the most out of your quality management. To give you a better insight into the bad and good sides of these solutions, we will shortly discuss the most common alternatives. 

Paper-Based Systems (Supported by Excel/Word)

Many companies still have a paper-based QMS system in combination with Word, Excel, and other Microsoft Office files to keep track of their documentation. The problem in a paper-based system is that companies constantly battle to make sure they are up-to-date with the latest procedures, copies, and more. Such systems require a lot of maintenance and are time-consuming to administer, which does not favor the benefits of a certificate. This approach also has a lot of time-consuming activities such as keying over the information from paper to Excel sheets. This not only costs a lot of time but also introduces lots of errors.

ERP Solutions

The use of ERP “solutions” for QMS has the potential to minimize the number of IT systems and offers “special” modules for certain aspects within QHSE compliance management. However, the fact is these systems are not built to be used as a compliance platform and certainly do not favor the functionality, flexibility, and support of a specialist system. These solutions can work for you, but they come at a cost of missing features and functionalities.

In-House Development

Of course, it is possible to develop a complete management system in-house. Choosing this route is usually the most expensive one. Not only does it cost scarce resources of developers, but it also requires a lot of input from operations. The developers have no idea what to develop. This needs to be analyzed and clarified by the people in the operations. When they help out, they cannot do their own job so the cost gets doubled. An other downside is the requirements of updates. Every time something needs to change the developers need to be available. This will lead to some serious costs to the company.

Specialized QMS System

A specialized QMS system such as Qooling provides the right tools to improve your business so that you can make decisions based on data from within your organization. These platforms are continuously improved based on feedback from customers and other specialists in the field. The updates are part of the package and don’t require additional costs. The fact that these platforms are built for compliance only, means that all the features are present and all aspects from different standards are embedded. The other big plus is that they run out of the box, which leads to an implementation time of weeks, not quarters or even years.

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How to identify ROI for an QMS

It isn’t an unreasonable question for anyone to ask, especially if you are going to ask them to spend money on quality. If you want your business to invest in a quality management platform, you should have some idea of what the costs currently are and how long it takes before you earn back your investment. 

‘’60 percent of organizations don’t know or don’t measure their financial impact of quality’’

Measuring ROI on QMS

There are countless benefits of implementing a quality management platform. Some can easily be measured, while others are more intangible and take place over time. However, the most important fact is that quality management platform can significantly improve the efficiency and consistency within your organization, resulting in improved overall quality. 

To help you understand the ROI on quality management platform, I’ll give you some key success metrics that you can use to track your improvement. 

Paperless Workplace

Manual or cumbersome processes take up resources and slow down productivity. No matter if this is in man-hours or administrative work, this is time spent on the system, rather than the business. A lot of time can be saved in the preparation of paper forms and documents. This could be incidents, work orders, work instructions, toolbox meetings, and so on. 

Greater Client Satisfaction

Quality management platform improves response and customer satisfaction while ensuring that customer reported quality issues are always properly documented and effectively resolve. The possibility of losing a customer based on the problems is very hard to measure but we all know when we screw up too often we will get burned. Having a clear overview of these issues, big or small, will help you get a better feeling of the likelihood of this happening.

Up-To-Date

Keeping employees up-to-date with the latest processes, procedures, and other documents is not only very labor intensive; it is also prone to mistakes. Forgetting to train somebody can lead to serious costs when old formats are used or processes followed. This could lead to missing out on a deal or even losing a customer.

Increased Productivity

The real hard ROI can be measured on time saved. Here also lies quite a number of challenges. Most companies have no idea how many hours are lost with an unstructured management system. Companies don’t track the hours people spend on searching for documents to use or training on new procedures. These are seen as the normal costs of running a business. However, saving on these activities directly impacts the bottom line of the company and therefore can have a significant impact. Try to find a reasonable amount of hours people spend searching for documents within your organization in order to benchmark.

Real Time Insight

A manual or Microsoft Office based management system lacks the real time insight. Data needs to be structured from a Word document to an Excel sheet in order to do some kind of analysis. Besides the time it takes, mistakes are also made. When the data is used and input for business decisions, this means that they are made on the wrong data. Every time data needs to be keyed over to other documents, mistakes are introduced. Make sure you have a single source of truth that can be analyzed in real time.

Get Started 

If you’re at the point where you are ready to find the right quality management system for your business, we can help you. Through a short phone call, our product specialist will look at the problems you are currently experiencing, and will advise you with choosing the right solution that fits your needs. Get started today!

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The impact of Quality and Safety Management on Project Profitability

Quality and safety are key topics in a number of projects. It already starts during the tender phase. Companies need to prove they have a functional QMS and a proper safety culture. Most companies prove this by showing their portfolio of certificates in combination with their “days without injury” metric. These are all general pieces of information and are used mainly to win the project. However, during the execution of the project, these topics should still get the priority, as they need to check if the company ended up making money at all.

Costs of Quality

Things always go wrong when you try to create something new and that is a good thing. However, it is crucial to register the issues that do occur during the project to be able to have a reality check on the margins. Whenever a supplier arrives late and your team needs to wait or when the wrong materials were delivered, always register the issue. Also, when a part needs to be repaired due to a mistake, register the hours. It is crucial to have this data and take actions to solve them, but never blame the employees because of it. Costs involved in mistakes can be significant and even eat away a lot of the margins. This can be crucial to success, especially in industries with low margins to begin with, like constructions. Hence, register the issues to be able to calculate the margins correctly.

Costs of Safety

Incidents have quite the impact on everybody involved. Even though the injury can be minor, it is always a wake up call of the risks involved in the job. Hence, issues with injuries or even sick days should also be registered. The company should learn from these risky situations and try to avoid them in the future. On the other end, the safety issue can have a big impact on the project. Deadlines might be missed due to the person not being there and morale might be impacted due to the injuries. Putting exact costs on these injuries isn’t easy, but you can always make an estimation.

Project Profitability

As noted above, quality and safety can have a significant impact on the margins of a project. This isn’t an exact science, but adding up all the costs and including some administration costs for handling the issues will give a great idea of the additional costs made to get the project done. These costs were never taken into consideration during the tender phase. Reducing these costs in future projects allows the company to potentially make a healthy profit. These profits can then be used, for example, to reduce the price of the project that gives the company a better position during the tender phase. Looked at it this way, it means that quality and safety becomes an even bigger competitive edge than just having the certificates on the wall.

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Essential Skills Every Quality and Safety Manager Needs

The role of a Quality and Safety manager is changing significantly due to all kinds of technological enhancements. Regardless of these innovations, there is still the interpersonal skills that are required to be a great Quality and Safety manager. The role itself isn’t easy, you need to be likable in order to get information from people, but also be strict at the right time. Employees need to fill in the forms and inspections for you to get the information needed. On the other hand, you need to be strict when someone makes a mess. That last point makes the job so hard. Many Quality and Safety managers are seen as the police of the organization, which they shouldn’t be.

Resistance to Change

As a Quality and Safety professional, you are mostly looking for things to improve. This could be to minimize risks, run processes more efficiently or make them less hazardous. You are continuously looking to change things. This is the root of some of the internal struggles. Most people don’t want to change. They think the company is running fine the way it does. You on the other end are continuously looking for things to improve, it is even embedded in the PDCA cycle. This huge gap in points of view can make it very hard to get anything done. In order to overcome this struggle, try not to push too many changes in a very short time. You might distance the team too much which makes it hard to get them to support you during future changes.

Don’t Police

Still, a lot of Quality and Safety managers are seen as the police agent of the office. They correct people when they are wrong and they use internal audits to check if you stay in line. This is far from the truth but this perception still exists in a large number of companies. It is important to get this picture out of people’s mind. Never point fingers and don’t blame them. When something goes wrong look at how the processes can be changed to avoid it in the future. Just don’t blame the people. Except when they do not only break a process but also the law, then it is the people’s problem.

Use Examples

Especially in safety, visual examples why changes are required work great. It is crucial everybody goes home the same way they arrived in the morning. Sometimes changes are required to reach this goal. These changes might make some activities more time consuming due to the safety preparation. Explaining why these activities are so important helps a lot, showing a picture of how it will help them is key. It isn’t all that easy but keep explaining this to people.

Feedback

Give people feedback when they help out. When they take their time to fill in a form or report an incident, make sure you give them feedback of the actions. This direct feedback keeps people engaged and involved. They see how the company takes actions when the employees report something.  Automating the feedback reduces a lot of time.

Conclusion

You don’t have to be friends with everybody, but it is critical to be among the people and have their respect. This is the only way they will share knowledge with you and listen to you. In the end, you cannot change anything on your own you need the employees on your side to reach these goals. Published by:

Safety Management in a Thriving Economy

The economy is on a rise again and companies are ramping up production. A lot of businesses are running a tight schedule and projects need to be completed as soon as possible. This environment is great for business but not necessarily for the safety perception. During these times it is crucial the safety officers keep safety as top priority at the workplace. To prevent safety becoming the victim of tight schedules, we have pointed out some topics to take into consideration.

Tightly Planned Project

As a safety officer, it is always good to have a close connection and understanding of the ongoing projects and their status. People are inclined to work as hard as possible to finish a project on time, even at the expensive of their own safety. The tight schedule can put so much pressure on people that they start to make a consensus on safety. Being present at the worksite helps to remind the employees of the importance of safety. You will personally be the trigger for them. Furthermore, it allows you to keep track of the safety culture and correct workers when they take irresponsible risks. Of course you cannot do this on your own, so make sure project managers and site managers are properly trained.

Continue Training

The tight planning reduces time for things like safety training and awareness programs. These techniques are crucial to maintaining a healthy safety culture. Make sure the training time isn’t reduced due to time constraints. Yes, top management will put the customer first, but ensure that it doesn’t happen at the expense of safety. It is crucial for the health of the workers but also the organization that people feel safe and secure while they do their job. Come up with measuring tools that show how important the training is. These can be safety culture perception or more hard figures like number incidents and their costs to handle them.

Reduce Barriers

Enable employees to easily file incidents and unsafe situations. It is crucial employees have the right tools to provide you with the necessary information to plan your actions. This information is a great input for things like:

  • Creating training plans.
  • Improving certain work instructions.
  • Planning specific toolbox meetings.

Positive Note

Due to the strong economic times a lot of companies have budgets available for topics like safety. Safety officers will notice it gets easier to get budget approvals. Make sure you leverage these great times wisely. In order to prove to top management that money was well spent, make sure you have proof. Show that the safety awareness went up, or that major incidents went down, or whatever metric you use. Just make sure you have data to back up the expenses. This will make approvals in the future a lot easier.

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Toolbox Meetings: Stop Wasting Time

Toolbox meetings are an important tool to inform the employees about everything related to safety. The topics can vary from just general safety to project-specific risks. Getting the employees together and talking about these topics is really important to keep the safety culture alive.

Despite the importance of the toolbox meetings, they do come with some pitfalls. We will touch upon them and give you some simple tips on how to prevent them.

The Planning

Planning toolbox meetings can be already quite a big deal. Figuring out who is available at which particular time isn’t all that easy. We have seen professionals trying to be everybody’s friend and taking all the agendas of the employees into account. Please don’t do this, it’s not feasible. Make your own plan, it’s best to just plan the meeting and don’t give people the room to renegotiate the time and date. When you agree to this, you will never be able to plan anything as they will constantly be moved about to suit everyone’s needs.

Attendance List

Related to the planning is managing attendees of these toolbox meetings. It is crucial that every employee has had access to the information discussed during the meeting. To guarantee this happens properly, an attendance list can help. It is then easy to see who attended the toolbox meeting and what was discussed.

Regardless of the importance of the attendance list, creating clear overviews of who attended which toolbox meetings in any given year isn’t that straightforward. Big Excel sheets are often to guide the process. This is where Qooling steps in and helps you manage this process with just a couple of mouse clicks.

Missing Toolbox Meeting

When the overviews of the attendees have been created, you need to start to fill in the blanks. Employees can be sick, on holiday or at a different location for work. Despite the reasons, it is your responsibility to make sure every employee has had all the information that was shared. Filling in the missing pieces can be a big pain because you need to invite these people again for a retake of the toolbox meeting. Which means that you end up doing the toolbox meeting at least 2 times, and maybe even more.

The digital toolbox meetings of Qooling allow you to simply distribute the toolbox meeting digitally and add some additional questions. This way the employee can check the toolbox meeting whenever they have the time within a fixed time period. Plus they always have all the historical toolbox meetings right at his/her fingertips. Want to try out the digital toolbox meetings? Click here

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Effective Technique to Prioritize Your Actionlist

Setting priority on pending actions is more of an art than a science. It is a continuous struggle to divide the resources available across the actions pending, and every company has to deal with this. We are continuously changing priorities on certain actions based on the changes in the landscape.

There are a couple of techniques you can use to prioritize the different tasks, which we will discuss in this post. However, it is very important that when you have made the decision to put the resources behind certain actions, that you keep them there. Otherwise, you might end up with a lot of unfinished tasks, and this could be disastrous.

Low Hanging Fruit (High Impact/ Short Period)

These are the actions that require relatively limited time but give you some good results. They are the no-brainers in your actions list and easy to finish. Make sure you put these high on the priority list because they give you immediate results. These actions are very important to improve the quality and safety awareness in the company because employees will also notice the changes.

Strategic Actions (High Impact/ Long Period)

These are the actions that require a lot of resources but deliver the company great results. Due to the lengthy process, employees don’t see the results quickly. It can even be the case that improvements occur gradually and employees don’t even notice them at all. However, they are crucial for the long-term strategy of the company. Think about awareness progress for safety.

(Low Impact / Short Period)

When there are still resources available, you could make a decision to work on these actions. Due to their short time period, it is relatively easy to finish them but their impact is pretty low as well.

Then we are left with the Low Impact / Long period type of actions. These are mostly not worthy enough to put any resources in. However, there could be changes in the environment that change the urgency of these actions. That is why it is important to keep them in mind.

Using this technique, you should be able to prioritize the tasks that need completing in order of the time they will take and the impact they will have. Then you can spread the resources among them to ensure the company is progressing and improving in the best way possible.

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The importance of Data in Safety Management

Most of you know the value of data in your safety management system. However, a lot of safety management systems mainly show the number of incidents or days without injuries. Yes, they are great for marketing and showing off how great the company is doing. These KPI’s don’t add much for the company though. In order to really start adding value to the company, it is important to analyze the data and find out where important trends are.

Gather the Data

Getting incident data can often be hard to accomplish. Employees don’t always have the right forms at their fingertips, and simply forget about it when they have. Lowering the barrier to file an incident helps a lot to gather sufficient data, even to perform some kind of analysis. Mobile Apps are the way to go when it comes to lowering the barriers to file an incident. The employee just needs to take a picture or short video of what happened and the important data is gathered. Then the safety team can start to work on the case.

Individual Cases

Not a single safety incident is the same. Some require just a couple of hours to resolve, while others might take months or even years, depending on the severity of the injury. Handling every single case thoroughly is pretty important. It is even more important to handle certain questions in a structured manner so it is easy to compare results and find trends. We discuss this more thoroughly in our post on NC reports.

Call for Help

During the investigation of the case, it is important to ask knowledgeable people to help you find the correct information. As the safety manager you won’t necessarily have all the information at your fingertips. Make sure you involve different people from different departments to ensure you find the right information. A nice example is the financial impact, the finance department has a much better insight in the costs of an employee per hour.

Also make sure you don’t do everything, assign certain tasks to responsible people. This way you keep them involved and you don’t have to take on everything–which isn’t feasible anyway. In order to stay in control of all the tasks it is useful to check for platforms to help you in this manner. They allow you to get great insight on how the different tasks progress.

Combine the Data

When all the data is filled in and you have closed a couple dozen cases, you can start to analyze the data. The analysis is crucial to finding common denominators on why certain incidents happen. Finding out why these incidents happened is vital in starting improvement plans. These trends might not be as sexy as the KPI numbers without injuries, but they do add a lot more value. Actually providing more training to employees when that is shown as lacking behind helps the company improve and therefore improves the complete company.

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Operational Excellence, how to bring it in practice

No doubt you have heard of Operational Excellence. It is a managerial buzzword just like ‘agile’, but Operational Excellence is also something every company should strive to achieve. Running operations as effective as possible will help the company not only to make more money, but also to keep employees happy. When less things go wrong, less people will complain.

But what is operational excellence? Well according to Wikipedia, Operational Excellence means:

The execution of the business strategy more consistently and reliably than the competition.”

This sounds nice in theory, but how do we accomplish this in practice? Hardly any companies have the same strategy so comparing companies is pretty hard, except of course when we look at financial figures. That is why it is very important to have your own benchmark to work with.

The Fundament

An integrated management system is the backbone of Operational Excellence. The IMS will consist of the internal process and the forms that are used for the required checks and balances. With modern online SaaS solutions the IMS can be managed with the highest efficiency.

These platforms will be your backbone that holds all your information together and allows you to distribute this information among your employees. There is no need to track and trace everything by hand. The backbone is critical for getting the right information and for creating that benchmark.

The Importance of Data

Data is a key ingredient in operational excellence. To benchmark your performance, data is required to do this. The data needs to be easily accessible and searchable to find the right information in your IMS.

Online platforms are the best modern technologies to not only have access to the data, but also to gather the information. However, in the end someone within the company needs to key in the data, as it won’t be created in the Cloud.

These modern platforms allow for secure access the data to anywhere in the world. At the same time their mobile apps allows for data creation at every location, production site or manufacturing plant. This way quality and safety related data can be harvested right at the time when something happens. The ability to create the report right away increases the number of reports significantly, which leads to more data overall to analyze.

Operational Excellence

When all the data has been gathered, it can be analyzed to see how efficient the company really runs. To reach Operational Excellence the company has to set internal goals to see how the efficiency can be improved. Trend analysis are crucial to track improvements over time.

Internal dashboards should be created to communicate the results with the company. The modern online platforms come with a built-in Dashboard manager to display the data the way you’d like. Displaying this data to every employee is crucial to create awareness and support by the employees, which will lead to better results.

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What Every Company Needs to Know About Valuable Safety Management

It doesn’t matter what industry you work in: prioritizing safety management is a crucial responsibility of any high-level manager. If protocols are not established, your business risks having staff injured on the job. As one workers compensation attorney in Philadelphia states: “Most victims are unable to continue working in the same capacity as before the injury.”

Injuries on the job due to improper management can be harmful to your bottom line. They can also deter clients and employees from seeking you out. But, successful safety management protects employees and ensures the organization is compliant with all relevant laws.

A strong safety management system can help companies achieve this crucial goal. However, before selecting one, it’s important to understand certain key points.

Identifying Risk Factors

An effective safety management system will gather important information about the potential risks your employees may be exposed to on the job. This system can track various types of information, like employee medical history and the kinds of safety hazards common to workers in your industry.

The gathered information makes it easier for you to identify what types of danger your workers are most likely to find themselves in. Thus, you’re better prepared to put preventative measures in place.

Handling Important Processes

A safety management system shouldn’t just help you identify hazards. It should also help you evaluate the performance of any steps you take to mitigate risks. You can, and should, use your system to regularly assess the impact of your safety efforts and programs.

No One Person is Responsible for Implementing the System

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that only dedicated safety specialists play a role in implementing and maintaining this system. Everyone in the company’s chain-of-command is involved.

A senior manager is likely to be the one who establishes protocols and allocates the necessary funds and resources for a safety management system. But, management is responsible for ensuring these protocols are maintained within their individual departments.

Safety Systems Boost Efficiency

According to a recent study, safety management systems are effective at reducing the frequency of accidents in the workplace. As OSHA points out, this results in a major boost in both productivity and efficiency.

Companies incur additional expenses when employees get hurt or sick on the job. The cost of investigating the accident, compensating the employee, and possibly having to hire and train a replacement can have a major impact on a company’s yield.

Safety management systems prevent these consequences. They’ve also been shown to improve employee morale, which further improves productivity.

Constant Improvement

Safety management systems evolve. By monitoring their effectiveness, managers can identify areas of the business that need improvement. Making sure lower-level employees can contribute feedback is a smart way to improve the system, as they are often more likely to be exposed to hazards. Additionally, employee feedback is one way to devote attention to continuous performance management and boost your organization’s morale and efficiency.

Improved Products

A safety management system is geared towards identifying and addressing hazards. That said, when used properly, it can also indirectly enhance the quality of a company’s products or services.

That’s because responding to workplace injuries depletes an organization’s resources. When employees are safer, a company can direct more attention and energy to optimizing its products. The company’s staff will also be more productive on the job. As a result, the entire business performs at a higher, more consistent level.

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