Nowadays, digital transformation or digitizing the processes in companies is one of the major investments of organizations. However, understanding the importance of this transformation remains somehow difficult for some other organizations, especially when it comes to the Quality and EHS departments.
But where do the Quality and EHS departments and services stand when it comes to digitizing their processes?
What are the daily benefits for managers and the operational staff?
Digital technology is reshaping the processes and business operations of companies. The Quality and EHS services are directly impacted and at the center of all this digital transformation. According to the digital maturity survey of the Quality and EHS departments conducted by BlueKanGo, there is still some work to be done in the understanding of the true benefits of digital technology and the use of IoT (internet of things).
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From “computerization” to digital transformation
It was not until the end of the 20th century that the DIGITAL transformation started. Back then it was all about the “computerization” with ERP software, HRIS, office tools, EDM, and the Intranet. Nowadays, digitalization is more global than ever. It is not just a simple transposition or shifting from traditional tools (paperwork, spreadsheets, etc.) related to specific tasks, but it involves the digitization of the entire processes from A to Z.
The digital transformation is being accelerated with the evolution of technologies, their democratization, the emergence of new ones and new types of applications and usages related to mobility, interconnection (between various software), and the massive exploitation of real-time data. This will greatly enhance the performance of an organization and improve all its processes. As for the Quality and EHS departments, this innovation is the key to Performance, Progress and Safety.
Imagining the digitization of the Quality & EHS processes
Even though in the following we will be talking about a fictional company example, all the processes are already applied in some real companies and others can now take the step to join this evolution.
Let’s take an example of a company with a workforce of 500 employees, with several site locations. The directory board decided to adopt a new strategy where digitalization is at the heart of it, to maintain the company’s leadership, enhance its performance and stand out from the competition in a competitive market.
Sarah, the Corporate Quality and EHS Head seized this opportunity to bring innovation to the company’s management system, therefore she decided to invest and put in place a SaaS software. Sarah sees this solution as a great opportunity to gain agility and performance. She is confident that this software will replace the traditional and the various applied tools used by the Quality manager and the EHS manager to achieve their daily tasks. She also believes that this will lighten the burden of the IT support department and all the tedious administrative tasks.
So, what are the real benefits of this SaaS software?
Kevin, Quality Manager
Kevin, the Quality manager, had implemented a document management system on shared servers a few years ago. Afterward, the IT department developed an Intranet service, which remained stationary over time, and did not really revolutionize the quality management system. When Sarah requested the modernization of the used tools, Kevin immediately saw the benefits of an online document management system to efficiently manage and validate the work processes and procedures, and easy access to all the old versions of the previously recorded documents and processes. He has also implemented an application that allows all the operational staff to directly report all detected nonconformities (no more paperwork).
In his other daily tasks, Kevin has now the possibility to easily and more efficiently audit and evaluate the suppliers directly on a tablet. The audit reports are automated and photos, videos and observations from the site are easily and directly attached. Afterward, the reports are automatically sent to all parties concerned and they can consult them anywhere and anytime. Kevin relies also on an automated suppliers’ evaluation grid which is directly updated with each new entry.
Tina, EHS Manager
Tina used spreadsheets to prepare the risk assessment and the risk templates. Unfortunately, one day her computer crashed and she had to restart the tasks all over again due to a loss of information. And now, she appreciates working with an online digital solution, where she knows that everything is recorded automatically with access to all previous versions. In addition, she is no longer worried about her computer crashing as she can retrieve all her information on another one. Moreover, all the actions taken and decided by Tina can automatically feed the global action plan.
One of the features that Tina likes best about using an online solution is to easily manage and schedule the weekly conversations with the operational staff around safety procedures and their daily tasks related to the EHS processes. All the media and documents about raising awareness (safety, health, mental health…) are easily accessible on the platform and this can save her an enormous amount of time, whereas before she used to make sure that everyone had seen this information and signed the document and the paperwork. But now, all is electronically signed by everyone, and each employee receives notifications informing them to check their related information or achieve their assigned tasks. For example, the series of discussions and raising awareness about the use of PPEs have reduced the number of occupational accidents by 5% this year.
Sarah, Corporate Quality & EHS Head
Sarah can easily monitor the global action plan which is fed by real-time data. She can view and follow up on the key indicators on her smartphone and is directly notified in case of a nonconformity/noncompliance or any sort of problem/deviation. However, Sarah noticed a major step up and a significant difference when she prepared the review of processes and when she communicated all the updates to all stakeholders. She felt comfortable and always ready to present the results to her General Manager (GM), via a BI report which is automatically generated and a dynamic dashboard showing real-time data. The GM is always satisfied with real-time monitoring as quick decision-making is made easy with the shift to digital technology.
The digital platform gave the possibility to Sarah to concentrate on other activities rather than spend a lot of time achieving the administrative tasks. Thus, spending more time on improving actions, monitoring the updates (safety procedures, quality control, etc.) and helping all the department managers in their daily tasks. She felt that preparing or maintaining a certification has never been easier.
The Quality & EHS processes in the present future
The example taken above is inspired by real projects. The digitization of processes will allow companies to improve their business operations and strengthen their presence in the market. The digitization can include all the processes and activities related to the Quality and EHS, and sometimes it can go above and beyond to concern ESG (Environment, Social, Governance). Where EHS managers can have a huge impact on the ESG strategy.
The analysis and exploitation of real-time data will greatly help with the risk management processes, improving the safety and health of all employees, leading to the improvement of the quality and performance of the operations.
The use of sensors, probes, or any type of IoTs (Internet of Things) to monitor the GHG (GreenHouse Gasses) emissions, waste management, water quality and more, can be all connected to the digital platform. This will allow the automatic feed of data and generate statistical analysis and in the end, include all this information in your ESG report. In addition, the key elements of ESG and scoring can be automatically done with the live feed of all concerned data depending on the adopted strategy.
The train of business is always moving forward and fast. Digital technologies are one of the wagons of the train. Embarking on this digital transformation is a great asset to the Quality and EHS activities and managers. Have you ever considered the amount of time that can be reduced thanks to a digital platform? Adopting a successful ESG strategy necessitates great preparations and this can be the KEY.