Two opponents, united in the company for maximum quality in optimal processes

Function-oriented reports and the process-oriented quality management – in every company, the two worlds face each other in a critical and distanced way. Both sections are indispensable requirements for a successful business, no matter if in the production or service industry. In theory, both perspectives should complement each other, but in practice things look different: the barrier of mutual understanding is often too high. Can this be fixed with the new digitization wave? Is there even the possibility of an integrated process and QM approach

Current status

But first, let’s take a look at the current situation. For starters, the situation within a company. The actually lived processes are the lifelines of a company. They pulsate throughout the entire corporate organism and are drivers for success – maximum output, so to speak. Lived processes often take tortuous paths, caused by the necessity to rapidly react to external influences, and, all according to the motto ‘never change a running system’, procedures have firmly established themselves.

Moreover, there are often three dimensions in a company:
  • The public image to interested parties (authorities, suppliers, customers etc.).
  • Documentation for certification companies (process documentation) and due to legal requirements.
  • Violations of regulations consciously executed by employees.
Often, the management knows nothing about the risks resulting from employee misconduct!

Quality management stands for documented processes that are coordinated, optimized and accessible to all employees. This also includes the compliance with standards, laws and customer specifications. The compliance and improvement of processes has top priority in order to improve the quality of products and services developed by the company to the highest possible level. Work instructions and organizational measures are tools to ensure compliance with the processes.

The expenditure that results from these measures places a burden on a company’s resources and budget. In the short term, this is an increased expense, which in the long term will be decisive for lean and thus cost-efficient processes throughout the entire company. On the one hand, the pulsating, lived processes are now contrasted with the well-founded and long-term oriented process documentation of quality management. It is inevitable that a field of tension will evolve – but does it have to be that way? Is there no alternative?

The new digital world

Digital transformation, digital evolution, Industry 4.0 and AI – these are just some of the buzzwords that describe the new revolution in the digital environment. There have been many innovations and ideas, but overall it is clear to everyone that it is harmonious cooperation that is the key to success. A holistic approach is the focus, especially within companies. The recent technical progress has made this possible, since the digital world offers an enormous potential of this holistic approach. Cloud applications, which enable maximum transparency and use, make up one part of this, but also creative applications that transform complex relationships into simple work methods. And this is precisely where the solutions for an integrated approach come in.

Process modeling with quality

Modern process modeling consists of much more than simple flowcharts. Representations on modular levels with varying degrees of detail, differentiated views, multidimensional links, integrated knowledge databases and the application of augmented reality show the complexity of the process landscape – but even more so the possibilities that can arise from it. In concrete terms, this can be seen in the integration of QM into the process chain, and that right from the start. This means that quality assurance criteria are embedded directly in the process, the necessary information is available directly at the appropriate point, the compliance with standards is checked and messages are sent in real time. The documentation, the central element of quality management, is permanently adapted and thus always up to date.

Vision of the future? No, this is practice!

State-of-the-art technology paired with QM expertise – this is living digitalization that can be used in real life. The individual elements are available, it is “only” a matter of using them intelligently and combining the functionalities in a sensible way. A “digital twin” of a company – the virtual image of the process landscape, so to speak – forms the basis for the collection and analysis of information and ultimately for making improvements. This also applies to the compliance with guidelines, their effects and process adjustments.

But why?

Pretty simple. Thanks to the complete integration of QM into the world of lived processes at all levels and with all available functionalities, the inhibiting, cost-intensive and lengthy procedures for quality assurance are no longer necessary. A concrete example: an ISO-certified company requires re-certification once every three years. Meanwhile, new legal guidelines, restructuring of company processes or even organizational changes are often the result which – shortly before the certification expires – cause extreme pressure for achieving compliant documentation. With an integrated QM, the effects of the adjustments are permanently checked and documented accordingly, which is ultimately the advantage of an up-to-date quality assurance and minimizes all efforts.

Learn more in our Webinar: Quality Management in a state of change – tomorrow’s modern process modeling

Author: Sabine Rudolf