Before the 1950s, the idea that everyone in a manufacturing plant could contribute to quality was revolutionary. And, back then, quality management looked completely different. Sure, most of the technology we use today was yet to be developed, but decision-making was in the hands of management. The boardroom had more than a leadership role, they controlled what happened on the production lines and defined all quality processes.
In contrast, factory-floor operators, who had more insights and first-hand experience with quality issues were often completely excluded.
The tables have turned today. Operators on the production floor are no longer shut out and quality-management systems (QMS) ensure product consistency. The switch to digital supports data-driven decision-making and saves from the burden of manual work.
However, IT teams in factories have long been focusing on physical automation—think networks and machines, office automation and large ERP projects. To add insult to injury, IT teams are often understaffed and overburdened, hence implementing and maintaining a QMS is likely not high on their agenda.
So, what to do if you want to improve your quality operations but have little or no support from IT? No-code quality-management software may be the answer.
Say yes to self-service with no-code
No-code technology makes software accessible to non-technical teams—a welcome solution to the under-supply of skilled developers. Saying yes to self-service by business users is not a trend but the future of development. Technology analyst Gartner predicts that over the coming two years 65% of app creation will be executed using no-code technology, or the simplified version of programming referred as low-code.
What can manufacturers expect from a no-code QMS platform? Instead of writing code or waiting for their turn on the IT agenda, operation and quality teams can start implementing the platform with a user-friendly interface and drag-and-drop editable building blocks…and they don’t need programming experience or an IT background.
This DIY approach translates into flexibility and speedy deployment, allowing teams to go live with their first processes within days. For example, a chemicals manufacturer empowered department representatives to set up their own part of the system. Putting the experts in control made working with a no-code QMS clear and easy since they recognized their own processes.
Once they move past implementation, teams can focus on learning from their data, achieving stable processes and meeting their first-time right goals. A lot can be achieved with a no-code QMS—as the system becomes embedded in your workflows, quality processes are made visible, teams are able to work more efficiently and can adapt the system to their organization’s changing needs.
For example, a packaging operator can retain certain data on the production line and visualize these in a graph with the push of a button. A plastics operator can access step-by-step protocols and download screens with useful instructions. Yet another chemicals manufacturer uses dashboarded data to comply with industry standards and prepare for the next audit.
The ability to adapt and respond to events and changing regulations makes no-code quality management future-proof and ready to evolve as the factory continues to innovate.
Crucial relationship between no-code and buy-in
Due to its agile implementation and flexibility, a no-code QMS can accelerate the development of automation in factories. And, because you can adapt the system to business processes, and not the other way around, taking this path drives buy-in from end-users. The deeper their commitment in the implementation phase, the more engaged they will be using the system going further.
In contrast to the times when management controlled everything, organizations now know that quality management is about collaboration across business functions, empowering teams, and employee involvement. No-code QMS supports this, not only because the system is simple to understand but also because its wider aim is omnipresence.
Without no-code, your QMS project would take much longer and might even be too costly to carry out. These recommendations will help you take matters into your own hands and avoid vendors that sell the illusion of full control:
Choose a vendor that doesn’t limit user access—This enables you to involve everyone from the from shop floor to boardroom, encouraging cross-functionality, and making quality an organization-wide goal.
Encourage early involvement—Even if you can use the help of your IT department or that of the QMS vendor, involve the end-users from the very first steps. This helps build confidence and they will quickly learn how to use, manage, and adapt the system.
Select no-code for today and tomorrow—The QMS that you pick today will likely serve your business for years to come. As factories continue to innovate and adapt, it’s imperative to have the full autonomy of no-code, which enables teams to adjust the system according to changing demands.
No-code as the start but not the limit—While operational teams can implement and maintain no-code software, you can extend capabilities with the help of IT.
Gerben de Haan is co-founder and CEO of AlisQI