What will happen to sustainability in the days after the pandemic? Will we pick up where we left off before the crisis, once we return to our offices after working from home? After all, when it comes to the challenges of global warming and the necessity of handling earth’s resources fairly, nothing has changed. But will we still react to the same triggers in the same way, or has the coronavirus changed us?

The experiences we make during a crisis, and how they impact our future actions, are decisive. One immediate difference we have all felt in the recent crisis is the tangible speed with which it brought our daily lives to a standstill.

When it comes to global warming, immediate actions are also vital. Yet despite that fact, it takes years to even initiate individual actions. Here, the strategy focuses on the long term; the same applies to operative action. During the Corona crisis, however, federal state governments proved that actions can have a significant impact on our daily lives in a matter of days. Strategically, they focused on winning the battle against the virus in the long run; tactically, however, the governments chose to take remarkable urgent action, a step to which global warming alone would never have driven us. When it comes to the vulnerability of our global world, of our supply chains, the virus has a lot to teach us. When it comes to unlimited growth, it challenges us to think again. It is obvious that we will not return to the same world we lived in before COVID-19.

Today, we know more about the vulnerability of the system we live and act in. Dealing with resilience and adaptation, and even doing without, are essential tools in today’s quality management. We have new concepts for improved products and processes, so why shouldn’t we have new concepts for a different approach to our customers and suppliers across the entire supply network? Let’s work on a shared platform for our best concepts and effective actions – for the future of quality management. Because sustainability is not a one-person job.

Letting quality lead the way

Well-known standards and regulations, such as ISO 13485 in the medical sector, oblige companies to systematically select and develop suppliers. From a formal perspective, this creates legal protection and stable processes. If only there wasn’t that tendency to overregulate and the pressure to provide goods “as cheaply as possible.”

Modern software can contribute effectively to meeting normative requirements so that these can be shaped in a manner that is beneficial and fair for customers and suppliers. Transparent onboarding processes, for example – that use tools in a targeted manner, such as audits, action and task management, part approval processes and the provision of documents – support all parties. Instead of simulating quality, transparency is actually helpful and offers both business partners guidance and orientation: the foundation for an honest and successful cooperation.

Beyond the onboarding process, modern software can be used to effectively support cooperations throughout the supply chain. Outsourcing incoming goods inspections reduces process costs, prevents idle performance and promotes mutual trust. Transparent complaints processes facilitate mutual learning and can initiate speedy product and process improvements and innovations. Knowledge and experiences that were previously separated can be united and shared. This allows the conventional control system of supplier assessments to give rise to a systematic exchange on development opportunities for both partners.

By shedding light on supplier selection, development and assessment processes, modern quality management helps us understand the organization as a whole. This creates a foundation for sustainable action within our companies and cooperations.


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