ERP Software and Quality Department Procedures Integration

S

somerqc

#1
Everyone,

I have been gone from Elsmar for a few years as I have been out of the quality field for about 3 years at this time. However, I am currently consulting for an ERP software (not going to mention as not selling anything) that has a quality module (actually 3 different "levels") that due to my background I generally help the customers implement.

I am starting to find that a number of customers are having a hard time with standardizing their procedures to "fit" the software. The software is generally pretty good, but, in many cases the customers haven't had the structure of an ERP or structured software solution (re: Quality management software).

I have some experience from the customer side; however, I am looking for your experience with ERP software and the integration of quality processes and how you "solved" this "fit" issues if any.

I am looking to change my approach or at least add tools to my toolbox to make this less painful for my customers.

Thanks!!
 
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Sunday

Involved In Discussions
#2
Re: ERP software and Quality departments

Disclaimer: I work for a company that makes QMS software.

ERP software usually evolves from financial software that grows to support manufacturing processes and then grows outward. Quality system support is usually the last objective for ERP Software. In fact it is often just a poorly conceived afterthought.

Given my bias, I suggest finding a good third party QMS software solution that can integrate with your ERP system.

Integration may be very simple. For example, find a third party database that does CAPA/FMEA very well and link the 3rd party database to your ERP Customer, Supplier, and Parts tables. The connection or link should be read only so there is no risk of the 3rd party software causing ERP database corruption.

We have used these techniques for years and they are effective.
 

Michael_M

Trusted Information Resource
#3
Re: ERP software and Quality departments

The ERP software we use has a basic Quality Module. For Corrective/Preventive actions the system is good at storing the text. The main issue I have with it is data entry. I cannot alter details such as type (opps, I put internal when I discover after the fact it is a vendor issue).

I agree with Sunday that the Quality Module is an afterthought, which is surprising as the actual software is very powerful.

I think one thing that will definitely help: Use the items within the Quality module in a real world environment (or at least simulate real world environment).
 

Joe Cruse

Mopar or No Car
#4
Re: ERP software and Quality departments

I am starting to find that a number of customers are having a hard time with standardizing their procedures to "fit" the software. The software is generally pretty good, but, in many cases the customers haven't had the structure of an ERP or structured software solution (re: Quality management software).
Part of this issue will likely never be resolved; there will likely NEVER be a software solution that can be easily assimilated into every QMS already in place. Just like the ERP systems being sold today-there is currently no One Size Fits All ERP out there. Kind of the nature of the beast with ERP's and implementing them in a business. The ERP's have to be general enough in nature to come close to fitting all situations, but then can't. The customer then has to both revise some of the ways they do things (not always bad, but sometimes not always very good, either), and try to work with the ERP vendor to program changes to the system to fit their individual business model, at least until the budget runs dry. A "quality module" will probably fall into the same trap, so the software may look good to you, but when a customer tries to bring it on-line for their QMS, they find the software won't allow them to keep their QMS structured the way they have built it over time. While this situation could be a great time to improve the QMS, in moving to a structured software, it could be a step backwards, too. Structured QMS software does not equal better or improved, always.

I have some experience from the customer side; however, I am looking for your experience with ERP software and the integration of quality processes and how you "solved" this "fit" issues if any.

I am looking to change my approach or at least add tools to my toolbox to make this less painful for my customers.

Thanks!!
We were handed Syteline, 3 or 4 years ago. It's not a bad ERP, but it was meant for a manufacturing system of discrete items (bicycles are their favorite item for training customer :notme:). We are a batch, continuous process of manufacturing, and there was a LOT of hurt, while trying to make this ERP work for us. They also bought the Quality module for it, but it was for handling vendor and production issues only, without a lot of stuff there for CAPA, Root Cause, FMEA, etc. Strictly a document by issue kind of thing, and nothing for documentation of the QMS. Some customer issue stuff, but limited. Also very limited in handling production quality data, without extra programming. The IT manager that bought this and threw it at us worked hard to get us to use the quality module, but was a little light on throwing $$ at getting the needed mods, so we never implemented it in our day to day operations in the ERP. They tried to treat the module like a LIMS, and it's not one. So then I built a data export function into my LIMS, but they dropped out of any further development.

Given my experience, and listening to the fits some of our customers have had with implementations (including QMS), I'd shy away from this if a customer won't spend the $$$ and time with the vendor to program an individual solution. Insisting a customer drop their structure within their QMS and match it to the vendor's structure "might" be a good idea for some situations, especially if the QMS is still fairly young and at a higher rate of development. For customers that have a mature QMS, with a strong history of compliance to the business' model and needs, its customer requirements, and the standard it is registered to, I would REALLY be hesitant to try to make the QMS "fit" the ERP, even if it's all still being managed by paper, or electronically by Excel or MS Access.

When you have a business/quality model that is working great, I hesitate to start changing things in it to make it "fit" a software model. I realize an ERP, by its nature, is all about helping a business get a hold of all of its data, or even to go start grabbing more of it, and they can be great management tools. I just think you have to be careful about making system changes just to make a business "fit" the way the software does things. Sometimes, it's the wrong thing to do, whether for a QMS or the finance side.
 
S

somerqc

#5
Thank you for your feedback everyone.

1. We actually do partner with a third party QMS software company for the medical device and other industries where FMEAs, PPAPs and other more technical requirements are needed.
2. Many of our customers have the approach that it is an opportunity to improve their processes as many of the cases I encounter is that they have developed processes due to the limitations they currently have (re: no system, lack of integrations with systems they do have, lack of actual QMS, etc.)
3. I strongly agree that the ERP (regardless of which one) must match a very significant percentage of your "normal" processes to be effective in helping you run your business (including quality). A system that is best for a place that makes bikes but you are configure to order is NOT a good fit.
4. Due to my background, I am very conscience of "fit" issues. In some cases, I have told customers that they should delay implementation of the quality functionality or skip it completely. In some cases, they don't even purchase it (the module is not part of the "standard" list of modules).
5. I must agree that the quality module is not given the priority it should. Having said that, I have found that it does help many customers improve communication between quality and other departments (especially finance).
6. I also agree that some flexibility is required, however, I have found that MANY customers have very convoluted systems that seem to be designed to ensure whoever is running it always has a job! :bonk:
7. We do have a very structured approach to implementation, so we do force the customer to do a great deal of testing both to ensure processes work as intended and we don't discover limitations of the software.

Again thank you for all of your feedback - I hope to read some more as the days go on and people realize Elsmar Cove is back!
 
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