From a manufacturing company with a tier 1 supplier in a city that turned into a hotspot to one that had to move its entire workforce remote at a few days' notice, most businesses have faced (and continue to face) the pandemic's direct and domino effects.
With the very staples of quality being impacted, quality itself has been on the line. Disrupted industries — that stayed on or have restarted their operations or are in the process of doing so — scramble to conform to quality standards.
Responding to COVID-19 has forced them to recenter their quality management to navigate to the new normal and emerge stronger on the other side. Let's look at a few things the pandemic made businesses reconsider about their quality management.
Reengineering for agility
The first test quality management (in general) and quality management systems (in particular) were put through, as COVID-19's impact became known, was the test for agility.
As governments and regulatory agencies across the globe launched new SOPs for industries to combat COVID-19, mitigate risks, and restore normalcy, industries had to think on their feet and be ready to roll out revised processes, communicate the revisions, and ensure conformity across the organization.
And all of this — that constituted the short term response to the pandemic — had to happen fast. The suddenness of the situation and its magnitude highlighted the need for agile quality management ops that could be adjusted on the fly.
At Intellect, where we power quality management for hundreds of businesses — right from startups to Fortune 500s — we witnessed first-hand how quickly Intellect customers set up remote work, empowered everyone with access to quality documents, data, reports, and training while enabling business continuity with remote auditing and quick online approvals. Complaints and non-conformances tracking, among other things, also went fully digital.
Come to think of it, it shouldn't take a global crisis for businesses to go with agile quality management approaches and QMSes… because anything can cause market volatility (of course not of this unprecedented scale but enough to impact you).
Recalibrating for resilience
The COVID-19 pandemic also worked as a test for resilience for the quality ops for most industries as it takes resilience to maintain critical business operations while ensuring minimal impact.
Moving back to normalcy also takes resilience.
From the ease of rolling out business continuity and disaster plans that take precedence during crises to building upon the plan for transitioning back to the normal state factoring in recommendations from the regulatory bodies once the pandemic ends, many things go into making quality management resilient.
QMSes that work at the heart of quality management directly tie to all of this. Crucial QMS touchpoints across a typical production/services lifecycle like Quality Policy Management, Risk Management, Change Management, Inspection and Calibration, and Complaints/Non-conformances handling play key roles in making quality management resilient so that businesses can emerge stronger.
Deploying principles of resilience to the different dimensions of quality management also gives businesses an edge over their competitors.
When resilient QMSes like Intellect underpin quality ops for a business, this gets somewhat easier as you can quickly build and deploy apps as needed, integrate them with existing systems, and update processes and workflows. Communicating the changes and offering training about the same across the organization are also easy.
But resilience as it applies to quality management, again, isn't an idea that needs a pandemic to realize… because you have to be reasonably resilient even to recover from an FDA rejection. Resilient quality management practices and QMSes work as shockers that absorb a good deal of the impact of setbacks and disruptions and help you recover quickly.
Revisiting for adaptability
If agility allows for effective short term responses, then adaptability prepares a business for long term success in ever-evolving and dynamic landscapes. Adaptability in quality management processes and trusting adaptable, "living," and "breathing" QMSes are the other thing COVID-19 forced businesses to consider.
Adaptable quality management simply means quality management that's ready to adapt in real-time as things change. From adapting to system stress like COVID-19 or responding to regular market fluctuations or supporting optimizations based on market trends to stay competitive, adaptable quality management ops powered by adaptable QMSes like Intellect help businesses deliver both great quality and results.
Until now, the idea of adaptable systems belonged to the future or to the "leaders" for most businesses, but the pandemic has catapulted many to it. Furthermore, accessible adaptable QMS solutions like Intellect let businesses of all sizes and budgets gain the adaptive advantage.
Also, just like agility and resilience, adaptability in quality management isn't essential only for combating COVID-19's impact but also to future proof it.
If you're looking for a QMS solution that lets you run agile, resilient, and adaptable quality management ops, check out Intellect. Intellect comes with a no-code platform that lets you edit your QMS operations (and create new ones) on the fly — without needing any technical knowledge or IT assistance. Sign up for a demo.