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May 26, 2015

5 Tips for Winning Executive Buy-In for a New QMS


These five strategies will help convince 
the executives and departments in your 
organization to support your proposal for a 
new EQMS or an expansion of your current system.
by Matthew M. Lowe
Executive Vice President, MasterControl Inc.

If you’re facing executive or organizational resistance to your plan to automate your quality system, you’re not alone. There are many quality and IT professionals who are in the same boat. They have the toughest time convincing senior management not just about the merits of an electronic quality management system (EQMS) but about the real value of quality.

My colleague, Marc Vandenbulcke, and I facilitated a group discussion at the recent Masters Summit to explore common problems when proposing a new EQMS or expansion of your existing EQMS (1). We had a lively discussion with MasterControl customers who come from highly regulated companies.

With valuable input from participants, Marc and I came up with five strategies that will help convince the executives and departments in your organization to support your proposal for a new EQMS or an expansion of your current system.

Five Tips for Getting Buy-In
There is a widespread misperception that quality is, strictly speaking, the business of the quality department. Non-quality professionals seem to think they shouldn’t have to worry about quality. It is likely that those who don’t feel invested in your project think the same way.

During our group discussion, attendees expressed the dual problem of how to communicate the advantages of an EQMS and how to convince senior management and the rest of the organization to accept it.
This article is related to the Whitepaper: 5 Tips for Getting Executive Backing for a New or Expanded EQMS.To get the full details, please download your free copy.

If you and your team face the same challenge, try the following strategies.

(1) Build Awareness Using Facts and Statistics: Your team may know all about the quality issues, but the rest of the organization might be in the dark. Document any inefficiencies and quality problems and quantify them.

In one company, we took one look at its application map and we saw how the different departments were siloed. We asked the IT Department how much each of those applications cost and we compared that to the cost of switching to an integrated system like MasterControl. Showing the big difference in costs finally moved the project forward. The bottom line? Dollar figures, hard numbers, and specific information are more convincing than rhetoric in advancing a project proposal.

(2) Dispel the Myth about Quality: When your colleagues claim that quality doesn’t apply to them, they are perpetuating a myth. Remind them about their part in making sure your product or service is high quality and free of defects. As W. Edwards Deming said, “quality is everybody’s responsibility.”

(3) Understand the Needs of Resisting Departments: Do your research and find out what the other departments need. For example, IT staffers in one company initially opposed switching to MasterControl, but after they saw how easy it was to build forms using MasterControl Process, they supported the project. If you can identify what excites the other departments, you’re halfway to getting their approval.

(4) Find a Champion: It is easier to get the support of your organization if you have the backing of the CEO or a well-respected senior executive. Find an influential person or department within your organization to champion your project.

(5) Use Supplemental Tools: Be creative and find tools that will boost your efforts. You could create a newsletter to explain the need for an EQMS or to prepare your end users for the implementation of an expanded system. At MasterControl, we encourage prospective customers and project owners to bring key people they are trying to convince to a Regional User Group meeting for a chance to interact with successful users. We also provide references who will share their experiences and might help convince doubting executives.

Conclusion
The good news is that the current economic climate favors increased technology use. A survey by Gartner Inc. shows that executives’ macroeconomic fears have abated and most of them are more interested in applying technology aggressively in their companies (2).
With the help of the abovementioned tips, you and your team have a good chance of advancing your EQMS project. I wish you good luck and I hope you share your experience with us by leaving a comment below.

To learn more about the subject, read a free white paper here.

References
(1) Marc Vandenbulcke, MasterControl VP for global accounts, is a mechanical engineer with 20 years of experience in the life science industry. He and the author of this article led the discussion titled “Facilitated Group Collaboration: Executive Backing for Expanding MasterControl” on Oct. 8, 2014, as part of the Masters Summit, an annual educational conference for MasterControl customers.

(2) More than 400 CEOs and senior executives worldwide participated in the 2014 Gartner CEO and Senior Executive Survey. The executives are from companies with annual revenue of $250 million or more.  Gartner is an information technology research and advisory company.

Matthew M. Lowe, executive vice president at MasterControl Inc., is a mechanical engineer with over a dozen years of medical device experience in product development, product management, and regulatory compliance. Prior to joining MasterControl in 2006, he worked in product development and product management at Ortho Development Corp. and Bard Access Systems. He has successfully launched more than a dozen medical devices and has four patents issued. His regulatory compliance experience includes writing a 510(k) that was cleared by the FDA and managing a multisite, multiyear postmarket clinical study for orthopedic devices.





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