Roxane Napoli, Marketing Manager, Pilgrim Quality Solutions
Sometimes small changes make a big difference. You’re already doing the difficult work of managing your quality system to stay in compliance and keep product quality high. But there may be some areas where you can focus to further reduce quality risk. Here are 3 areas to examine if you’d like to make some quick gains toward risk reduction and continuous improvement.
Mine Your Findings for Early Signals
The best defect is the one that never happens, and the best time to prevent defects is before materials enter your door. While you can’t prevent all incoming defects, you can use your existing data to gain a better understanding of where they’re more likely to occur.
Audit findings are your first stop. Look at the results from your last supplier audits for ideas of what to watch for during incoming inspections. Can you draw any conclusions about which findings signal potential nonconformances or failures?
Once you’ve identified and addressed the findings that are most likely to impact quality, remember to close the loop. You can do this by sharing these findings with other teams and sites within your organization. You should also review your audit checklists to be sure you’re monitoring these areas in future audits.
Turn Failures into Lessons Learned, but Don’t Neglect Your Successes
CAPAs and complaints are downstream processes for defects that have already occurred and need to be corrected. But these downstream defects are predictors of problems that could occur in new or similar products that you develop in the future. That’s why leading organizations are conscientious about feeding unexpected defects and complaints back to product design. This forms another closed loop to reduce future quality risks.
Have you considered moving beyond sharing problems to sharing successes? Once you’ve discovered a defect’s root cause or that a preventive action is effective, it is important to communicate lessons learned. Sharing your solutions is a huge driver for continuous improvement.
Use Risk to Prioritize Today’s Defects and Prevent Tomorrow’s
You can assess the risk for each defect in your quality system using industry-accepted methods. If you understand a defect’s severity, how often it occurs, and how easy it is to detect, you can quantify its risk. These are the basics of risk assessment, but there are more ways to use this data to be more effective.
When risk is assessed it needs to be mitigated. It is important to prioritize your investigations, defects, complaints, and findings based on risk. Then use those priorities to solve high-risk problems before they can further impact your quality levels.
Once you have your high-risk areas under control, take a step back and look at the other side of your risk picture. This is where you may catch a glimpse of future problems waiting to happen. Analyze your low to medium-risk findings, defects, investigations, and complaints to see if there are problems brewing. Do you see any recurring low-risk defects? Has there been a spike in small problems for a certain product? This is an area where periodic analysis can prevent costly future defects.
Enterprise Quality Management Software (EQMS) Helps Reduce Risk
Understanding how to connect, share, and quantify quality system data is difficult. Risk-based Enterprise Quality Management Software, like SmartSolve can help. EQMS will make it easier to:
- Standardize your organization’s processes and vocabulary around quality and risk activities.
- Communicate failures, successes, changes, and trends with your team and beyond to management, other sites, and suppliers.
- Assess quality risks and prioritize the work needed to mitigate them.
SmartSolve Enterprise Quality Management
Learn how SmartSolve Enterprise Quality Management Software (EQMS) helps you reduce quality risks.