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Get to the Root - Solutions that Stick!

August 15, 2022

We all make mistakes. Small ones. Big ones. Some have immediate implications (you forget to look both ways and pull out of an intersection only to end up in a car accident), while some implications aren’t realized until weeks or months later (a hinge or nut is not tightened to the right specification and comes loose over time before falling off). When it’s in your home, the impact may be minor and of short duration, but when it happens on a manufacturing line, the impacts can be significant. But all too often, these mistakes go unnoticed and undetected. How can you fix a problem if you don’t know what caused it in the first place?

There are many prerequisites needed to determine the root cause of any product failure. First, what are the attributes that define a passing product? In the cannabis industry, it’s more than the level of THC, the amount of pesticides, or heavy metals (things that final lab testing is required to check for). If your product is an oil for a vape pen, is there a specific color or viscosity that you need to have? 

From there, what are the steps within your process that need to be established to ensure you arrive at this final product quality specification? Think about any step in your process, that if not done within an established tolerance, could cause your product not to turn out the way it is supposed to. Consider the amount of time a product is heated or mixed, the revolutions per minute of a mixer, the minimum or maximum amount of a raw ingredient that is needed. 

Once you’ve established these specifications, how have you proceduralized them? How are you documenting that these requirements are being met? If it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen! Do what you say, say what you do, and be able to prove it.

All of this lends to the development of a robust quality management program, which includes Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), that must start at your property line. At its core, an effective quality management system provides a crucial foundation on how to plan, control, and improve any business. It forces you to define what quality is, how to replicate it, and what to do when things go wrong.

Businesses with effective quality management programs have numerous benefits. They are more profitable, have less employee turnover, and build and maintain reputations that propel their brand into the upper echelon. With lower operating costs from the identification of opportunities for improvement and proactive monitoring profits increase, plus the recognition of a stronger brand reputation, one can command higher prices than the competition. The result? Higher profits that can be reinvested in employees, training, research and development and more.

Contrast this with the constant trial by fire, variability in cannabis products, and high final product failure rates that is common in the majority of cannabis marketplaces. With a constant need to rush to market and deploy new products, these minimum lovable products not only create chaos in an operation, but place consumers' lives at risk. An unsafe product that slips through the cracks that injures a consumer can quickly escalate into lawsuits and recalls. The cost is far more than the immediate product in question - damages to reputations are inexorably costly.

Still skeptical? McKinsey and Company speaks to how quality systems have been optimized for some of the most successful pharmaceutical and medical device companies, resulting in declines of over 25% in the number of complaints and deviations by over 65%, simply by tracking and trending data that is critical to the organization.

Effective quality management requires thorough and thoughtful analysis, detailed planning, intentional improvements, and consistent evaluation. However, if the job is done right the first time, it saves you time and money which increases your top line performance.

This is but one example of a large, complex situation that is addressed through a holistic quality management system. 

Fortunately, The GMP Collective’s purpose is bringing credibility to this marketplace through quality management. We offer a number of helpful resources that can help you get started. Looking to implement GMPs and start budgeting for a quality department? Contact GMPC Founder/CEO David Vaillencourt at info@gmpcollective.com today.

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