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Digital Transformation

What is Nonconformance Management?

Written By: Joe Demski
November 10, 2021
7 min read

Even the best processes are occasionally disrupted by ISO 9001 nonconformance. Catching nonconformances on a regular basis, though– that can be a sign of trouble in your quality management system.

A proper nonconformance management software is the solution critical. If you deal with nonconformances as they arise, you won’t have the data necessary to prevent them in the future. Nonconformance management software identifies trends in nonconformances and points toward areas of your process that could be causing quality management system problems. It also tracks how often you’re encountering nonconformances, signaling when you have a problem.

How do you implement nonconformance management software that benefits your organization’s bottom line? You need to start by understanding what nonconformance management is and the benefits you achieve from it.

What is Nonconformance Management?

Any service, product, or process that falls short of specifications, regulatory requirements, or industry standards is a nonconformance. These pesky nonconformances can cost your company money and harm the perception of your brand.

Nonconformance management is a process designed to help organizations cope with nonconformances and avoid future occurrences. During the nonconformance management process, organizations identify nonconformance, record relevant data, then create an action plan for either bringing the nonconformances up to standards or disposing of nonconforming materials. Information gathered throughout the process is then used to prevent future nonconformances from occurring.

With a working nonconformance management system, you can reduce regulatory and product development risk and keep your manufacturing process compliant.

What Does Nonconformance Management Do?

While you can customize your nonconformance management process to meet the needs of your organization’s quality management system, a standard process identifies non-conforming products and services, documents and reports them, evaluates and reviews the corresponding quality issues, segregates the nonconforming material, then creates an action plan for bringing the product up to standards or disposing of it.

Nonconformance management will streamline your quality management system as a whole. You’ll be able to identify how long it takes you to identify and resolve potential quality issues, gather all the data necessary to make sure the issues are resolved and will not reoccur, and fine-tune your process for identifying future nonconformances.

What are the Benefits of Nonconformance Management?

There are a few key reasons you should consider implementing a nonconformance management system into your quality management software:

Cost reduction

Nonconformances cost your organization money in more ways than you might think. First, there’s the wasted product or time spent on nonconforming services. Beyond this, your organization’s reputation could be damaged. This, in turn, can result in fewer sales.

Nonconformance management is designed to handle and prevent nonconformances. This process will ensure you waste as little time and resources as possible while allowing for root cause analysis of nonconformances. This analysis ensures you can avoid them in the future.

Customer satisfaction

When nonconformances reach your customers, customer satisfaction rates will take a hit. You’ll probably get some complaints and bad reviews, too. Nonconformance management acts as an avenue for damage control. It highlights the details of products and services that need improvement and helps your organization deliver products and services that meet company and customer standards. As you encounter fewer nonconformances, your customers will have less to complain about and will be more satisfied overall.

Prevent unnecessary waste

With the right nonconformance management process, your team can make use of some nonconforming materials instead of letting them all go to waste. This is possible because the management process clearly outlines quality issues and identifies if and how they can be resolved.

What Does a Functioning Nonconformance Management System Look Like?

In essence, a functioning nonconformance management system starts with all employees reporting potential nonconformances. Your entire organization shares the responsibility for reporting nonconformances.

In a functioning nonconformance system, organizations must clearly outline their goals and why the process is important. This will help inspire your employees to report nonconformances while keeping the process on track.

A functioning nonconformance system should be accessible and easy to use. It has functionalities for detecting potential nonconformances, then swiftly reporting, processing, and documenting them.

Nonconformance Management System Building Blocks

A functioning nonconformance management system is made of the following building blocks:

Design

This building block is where you map out the process that best fits your organization’s needs. What you need out of nonconformance management software will depend heavily on the size of your business, as well as the complexity of your supply chain.

You’ll want to rely on the members of your organization who oversee quality to design the process, and it should be designed so that it can be easily understood and used by most employees.

The design should include a triage system for nonconformances. This is where you’ll decipher whether a product needs to be disposed of, or if it can simply be brought up to standards. This is a key part of the design process, as bringing non-conforming products up to standards is where your organization will be drawing a significant portion of value from the nonconformance management process.

Here, you’ll also design templates that will streamline the documentation process. Recording data on nonconformances will dictate the corrective and preventative actions taken. Designing documentation templates ensures this data is recorded in an efficient manner.

Documentation

This step in the process is where you record how the issue failed to meet your organization’s expectations and/or requirements. You’ll need to document your nonconformance system in a standard operating procedure that is easy for your employees to understand and utilize after proper training.

As soon as a nonconformance is reported, documentation begins. The data recorded needs to be as detailed as possible. These details will inform further action regarding how to deal with the nonconformance, as well as how to prevent the recurrence of specific quality issues.

Implementation

The first step to implementation is designated a nonconformance management process owner. The job of this process owner is to make sure all employees are playing their role in the nonconformance management process by reporting nonconformities as they arise.

The process owner is also responsible for seeing the process through, from the moment the nonconformance is identified to the moment it’s been dealt with.

The implementation process also involves regular meetings to discuss current nonconformances, along with trends and prevention.

Audit

Auditing is the next building block in the nonconformance management process. Audits should be performed by someone outside of the regular nonconformance management process, as a fresh set of eyes offers valuable insight into what might be causing nonconformances. These audits are helpful in identifying general areas of concern in your organization’s overall processes. Audits are a useful tool to assess the effectiveness of your nonconformance management process. They act as an extra layer of nonconformance prevention to help your organization run at peak efficiency.

Continuous improvement

You might say this is where the real magic happens. While all the previous building blocks outline the process for dealing with nonconformances, this step is where you take that data and use it to prevent future nonconformances. The better your nonconformance management process is, the less you’ll have to worry about nonconformances altogether.

Continuous improvement is where you utilize feedback from your employees and documentation process, recognize trends, and create an action plan for streamlining your process to eliminate nonconformances as much as possible.

Tips for Minimizing Nonconformance

Minimizing nonconformance is an ongoing task. Here are a few tips to help you stay on track:

Management review

Carrying out regular management review sessions gives your team the opportunity to analyze everything from the product requirements and processes to potential risks. This is when you’ll identify a plan of action for improvement over the next review period.

Listen to your customers

If you want to accurately judge the quality of your products, listening to customer feedback is the first step. Your customers know what they want out of a product. If they leave negative feedback, they’re letting you know your product didn’t meet their expectations– in doing so, they’re handing you a road map for improving your products and customer satisfaction overall.

Stay organized

When searching for a nonconformance management software, choose wisely. Keeping your data organized and accessible is how you’ll recognize trends and improve your products and processes.

While finding a nonconformance management software that meets all your company’s needs might seem like an impossible task, the right technology makes the job a piece of cake. With our no-code platform, you can design management workflows that fit your team like a glove, keeping data organized, visible, and accessible to support company-wide refinement.

Written By: Joe Demski

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