9 Ways COVID-19 Is Demanding Modernization of Quality Initiatives

Kari Hensien, President of RizePoint
Kari Hensien, President of RizePoint

by Kari Hensien, President of RizePoint

9 Ways COVID-19 Is Demanding Modernization of Quality InitiativesIt’s hard to overstate exactly how much COVID-19 has changed every facet of the way we live and do business. To quote The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, our “lives got flipped, turned upside down.” Although we’re more than half a year into the pandemic, some brands are still thinking of the changes made as temporary, rather than looking for ways to use these changes as a permanent pivot to something better.

Those who don’t take this opportunity to modernize their quality model will find themselves scrambling for the duration of the pandemic, and will fall behind once business normalizes and struggle again in whatever crisis comes next. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the gaps in traditional quality models, and it demands our response meet the needs of the present and the future.

We’ve laid out nine ways we see COVID-19 prompting the modernization of quality initiatives.

1. A Proactive Approach Is Replacing Reactive Response

We’ve been hearing about the need for proactive versus reactive action for years, but in the absence of a compelling enough reason, many companies weren’t investing in making this happen. Now, when your brand depends on a strong response, the time has come to put in place initiatives that will see and address potential issues rather than just responding after they become problems.

2. Every Employee Is the Chief Quality Officer
Empowered employees not only give your quality team eyes across the business, they know their suggestions and comments for improvement will be welcomed. Reassure your employees that feedback is supported and valued and see your quality efforts grow exponentially.

3. Growth in Self-Assessments & Virtual Audits Is Growing Visibility
At the beginning of the pandemic, self-assessments and virtual audits were seen as a stop gap or necessary evil. What we’ve discovered is that they instead are an invaluable part of the quality ecosystem, providing more perspectives and more frequent feedback to supplement annual audits.

4. Continuous Quality Management Is Overtaking Point-in-Time Audits

With annual audits off the table for the time being, smart companies are looking for better ways to gather and analyze the data they need. Quality management software has provided a way for brands to get a real-time, integrated view of things like compliance, trends, or potential hot spots.

5. Spreadsheets Are Phasing Out

There are better ways to get a holistic view into quality than a series of spreadsheets that are slow to fill out and difficult to aggregate or analyze. Purpose-built audit systems with ready-made reports are taking their place, making it easier to collect, understand, and act on data.

6. Streamlined Tech Stacks Are on the Rise

Companies who were already on their way to modernization have realized that the integration headaches that come from multiple, disparate quality systems aren’t worth it. Instead, these systems are being consolidated, and holistic quality management solutions are growing in popularity.

7. Government Guidelines Are Becoming More Tech Forward

Changes like the New Era of Smarter Food Safety are only the beginning. Government guidelines are evolving to include digital records for traceability, ease of analysis, and other improvements. The digital systems that are helping mitigate COVID-19 will play an integral part in tracking and preventing other illnesses or safety violations.

8. Companies Are Cost Sharing with Suppliers
COVID-19 has been tough on everyone’s bottom line and many people expect cost-saving measures to carry on after the pandemic is over. However, some companies are using their digital audit systems as a revenue opportunity. You can offer self-assessments or practice assessments on the same platform you use to audit and charge applicable fees to suppliers. This meets your documentation needs and provides a way to maintain or grow margins, even during tough times.

9. Certification and Standards Bodies Are Driving Digital Requirements

As part of an effort to maintain better, more accurate records and improve standards, standards bodies such as GLOBALG.A.P. are driving changes and modernization to submission requirements. Certification bodies will be asked to modernize in order to continue to submit digital audit data before granting certifications. These changes dovetail with the more tech-driven quality model emerging from the pandemic to create higher standards across industries.

The COVID-19 pandemic has asked for quick thinking and flexibility. The companies responding well are using the changes spurred by the coronavirus as a wake-up call to improve their quality initiatives for the long-term. Embracing digital audit technology, broadening the quality model to include all employees, and focusing on continuous, proactive management are all part of the more modern future for your quality team.

As President of RizePoint, Kari Hensien is championing a new continuous quality initiative. Since travel and interpersonal interactions have been devastated by COVID-19, it’s been challenging for businesses to obtain regular third-party audits, which are integral to access and analyze key data and ensure safety compliance across the enterprise. Kari is facilitating an increased self-assessment auditing model, where businesses and their locations can use RizePoint’s digital platform themselves, resulting in more frequent audits and broader visibility during the pandemic and beyond. For more information or to discuss RizePoint’s solutions, please contact Kari at kari.hensien@rizepoint.com.