More from Panos Boudouvas
Amidst this turbulent moment in our lives, with a global pandemic threatening us and our loved ones directly, and the specter of the coming economic recession already making waves, it is important to acknowledge that the hard work of life sciences development and manufacturing continues. And while global regulatory requirements remain in place, many companies will be forced to stretch budgets further and possibly with fewer FTEs (due to cuts). And in a new complication-- teams will have to truly do more (or everything!) remotely-- manage policies and related training compliance, investigate deviations, manage change controls, host/conduct audits, sign/review documents, etc.
A message to our community of customers and partners:
Intelligent Quality is an approach that is rooted in the digital transformation that we’ve seen across all lines of business over the past decade or so. The complex, modern organization has tools available in their ‘back office’ that offer data analytics and valuable insights to company leaders- enabling them to make informed decisions about their business strategy. We have seen the explosion of growth and advancement in CRM and ERP, for example, and there is no reason for quality and compliance teams to continue to use stone- age tools.
John Mandy participated in thousands of audits during his 26-year tenure as a Quality Leader at Pfizer. Early on, Pfizer had thousands of GMP suppliers and CMOs located all over the world. In any given year, Mandy’s audit teams were executing over a thousand internal and external audits and assessments. But even he was surprised when he was helping a site prepare for a significant re-inspection and had a local QA lead proudly show him a validation qualification for a new paper shredder. That was just one of many times that he observed teams not taking a risk-based approach to systems validation.
I often speak to quality leaders and other executives who boast that their paper-based quality management system is “perfectly sufficient” to meet the needs of their business. I just nod and smile because I anticipate that I will be hearing from them (in a panicked state) in the very near future when they realize the limitations of a manual QMS.
Janet Woodcock made headlines (again) by discussing the possibility of a quality rating system to aid transparency in her recent blog. But the devil is in the details when it comes to ratings for a site’s quality maturity.
I am frequently in meetings with quality leaders and regulatory experts where I find myself wishing I could share some part of the conversation or findings with a broader audience. Something about the current state of affairs, best practice or just a really eloquent description of a pain point and how they are managing.
Effective quality leaders know that securing executive support and buy-in are key factors in successfully selecting and implementing an eQMS. Convincing skeptical C-suite colleagues of the strategic implications and costs of the current state can be challenging, especially in documenting both hard costs and intangible benefits/risks. It is necessary to speak in terms that they understand and appreciate, starting with Return on Investment (ROI).
The true cost of paper-based quality management systems is quite varied when you consider that using paper creates a vast ripple effect on companies. It extends all the way from how papers get filed to how a manager communicates with employees. What's problematic is some of these costs are possibly invisible until you fully understand the duties of your document manager.
That's why it's important to always analyze your company and processes if you've used paper documents for years. You may discover certain procedures your managers and other employees use out of habit cost you more money and time than you realized.
Finding what the true cost is of a paper-based quality management system can lead you to some surprising findings if you've stuck with this process for years. You may still think using paper is easier since it's so convenient to write something down in a hurry. Employees may think the same thing, or maybe not. They may just go along with your management concept because they're so used to it.