Nowadays, computer technology appears in just about every walk of life and in most instances provides great benefits. Quality Management is no exception to this rule, as computers offer significant advantages when implementing and controlling a Quality Management system.
Use of computer in Quality Management System :
One of the most onerous tasks of Top Management is to ensure that the efficacy of their Quality Management System is maintained. Now if they only have one item of documented information, this is not much of a problem. Difficulties arise when there are numerous items of documented information dotted around the business, all of which need to be controlled to ensure their content is current. This problem is further compounded when a business is spread throughout a country or, in the case of multi-nationals, throughout the world.
The same problems arise when you need a number of isolated personnel to perform the same process. It is very difficult to ensure everyone has the same version to work from.
Benefits of internet in Quality Management System :
This is where computer technology comes into its own. Through the use of a company intranet it is possible for the Top Management to:
Maintain one centrally located management system;
Permit all personnel access to the same information;
Control only one set of documented information.
It is clear that such a system is very efficient and hence cost effective. So what is a company intranet? Put crudely, it is like a mini-version of the World Wide Web, except that only your Staff can access the website. So, by turning the contents of your documented information onto an intranet website, all your personnel can access the current version.
Process Mapping Software :
Computers are therefore ideal as a means of control and distribution of processes, procedures and WIs. They are also an ideal means of producing and then seamlessly combining your process maps. There are any number of software packages offering process-mapping capabilities. Indeed, Microsoft’s own Visio package is more than adequate for most purposes, although you can purchase bespoke software should you have more specific needs.
By using process-mapping software it is possible to set up standard templates to ensure your maps all have a consistent appearance and convention. This is of importance if you are getting a number of personnel to draw up processes.
What is Hyperlinked process map ?
Processes often complex and require a number of levels to fully detail the activities. This can result in problems finding the way between the maps, especially when they are in paper form. By converting your process maps into web pages it is possible to include electronic links. This is called ‘hyperlinking’ and enables separate processes to be connected and hence aids navigation between them.
In the following diagram you will see, by attaching hyperlinks between points on different process maps, it is possible to jump between them and consequently maintain continuity and the sequence of processes.
Importance of Communication in Quality Management System :
One other area where computers come into their own is in communication. ISO 9001:2015 requires Top Management to ensure that appropriate communication processes are established within the organisation and that communication takes place regarding the effectiveness of the QMS. What better way than using your office e-mail facility. Consider also the possibility that you may need to have current versions of legislation made available to your personnel. Yet again the centralisation of this documentation within an intranet will avoid unnecessary duplication.
How Computer assist Quality Management ?
In summary, central management of the master copy of all your organisation’s documented information on computer will greatly assist quality management for:
Process map development;
Process map navigation through hyperlinking;
Communicating quality issues;
Immediate availability of applicable specifications, standards and legislation.