Quality Management System on a Managed Budget

Insights on driving value from staffing, automation and continuous improvement.


Developing a quality management system is the foundation for ensuring the organization’s products or services are safe, effective and controlled to deliver customer satisfaction. Throughout the organization’s lifecycle, from start-up through maturity, the quality needs of the firm, along with its budget constraints, are continually evolving. Maintaining compliance with regulations while controlling costs represents a challenging balancing act we encounter in our life science consultancy. The most successful firms apply critical assessment of their needs and gaps at present and in the future, and deploy a risk-based approach to their quality system.


Upfront Planning Avoids Costly Surprises


Before establishing a quality system, it’s critical to identify the quality standards, regulations and/or requirements surrounding the company’s products, service and business needs. The checklist in Table 1 provides some common areas to consider.


Gap Analysis


If your organization already has a quality system, perform a gap analysis against your identified standards/requirements per Table 1. If your quality team could benefit from an external assessment, consider hiring an experienced consultant or firm to provide expertise in the gap analysis.




If your organization is or will be manufacturing or distributing internationally, global considerations will add complexity to your quality system. For example, the following considerations can greatly impact the complexity of the quality system; European Union, ISO13485, Canadian Medical Devices Regulations, Brazilian GMP, and Japanese Ordinance #169, and others.


Phased Enhancements: Spread the Spend Over Time


quality management system


Maximizing Value from Staffing


  • Quality System Leader The organization requires a competent and knowledgeable individual as the quality system leader(s) who may implement the QMS, keep the system compliant, and maintain the design history file.
  • Based on the lifecycle of the organization, the quality system leader may be tasked with implementing the QMS or just maintaining the QMS going forward. This could be two different skill sets.
    • Tip: Early stage companies can benefit from outsourcing development of the QMS to highly experienced quality consultants and then transition maintenance of the QMS to less expensive in-house personnel.
  • Skill Assessment By analyzing the skill sets of in-house quality personnel against needs, firms can identify gaps and develop solutions. A few considerations:
    • Tip: Can current staff be trained? Training represents an upfront cost but offers long- term payoff.


Training Programs


  • Utilize assessments and audits to understand the capabilities ceiling of your existing team. If training cannot close the critical gaps, consider whether the needed skill set is temporary or long-term. Temporary gaps can be closed cost effectively through hiring of contractors or DHF consultants to provide specialized knowledge without paying for a full-time employee. Such expertise can be used for:


Maximizing Value from Automation


  • Start-up or early stage organizations can benefit from basic manual systems or hybrid systems that automate some of the more labor-intensive quality functions such as document control.
  • Mid-market organizations can benefit from increased automation through hybrid or enterprise QMS systems that address multiple quality needs such as document control, deviations control, non-conformance, equipment calibration, equipment maintenance orders, audit, CAPA, change control, training and functions that control product outputs.
  • Large organizations can benefit from enterprise QMS systems and integrating those systems with their ERP systems for even greater interoperability.


Maximizing Value from Continuous Improvement



  • Internal and external audits program
  • Complaints
  • Customer feedback
  • CAPA system
  • Product or process non-conformances
  • Processing data
  • Enforcement activity such as a FDA 483 or Warning Letter
  • Costs relative to the budget
  • Concerns about cybersecurity and cost


Budget Maximizing Tips



  • Limiting travel by employees and choosing local contractors or consultants to minimize this expense.
  • For organizations with multiple locations, consider leveraging the geography of the company’s quality personnel. For example, if facility A has an out-of-state supplier located near sister facility B, then facility A might be able to tap into the facility B personnel to perform the supplier audit. The travel savings could offset the cost to quality facility B personnel on the QMS audit.


  • Delaying training can minimize this expense. Although it can be less expensive in the long run to raise the skill set of your employees in areas such as internal audits, some companies trim budgets by foregoing to deferring training.
  • Virtual cGMP training is another possibility to minimize training expense. By training all your employees at once, companies can negotiate reduced training fees and may possibly eliminate department travel by having a trainer come onsite to the company.
  • Delaying supplier audits Sometimes audits can be scheduled to the next quarter or early next year to save expense based on the acceptable risk exposure.
  • Group input: The quality team is the cornerstone of the QMS. Engaging these internal experts can identify creative opportunities to trim expenses while minimizing risk.


Today’s Quality leaders are responsible for managing the organization’s compliance and cost of quality, while driving customer satisfaction and maximizing their department budgets. Careful planning and judicious use of human capital and other resources are critical in deploying a risk-based strategy that delivers organizational results.


About RCA’s Pharmaceutical Services


Regulatory Compliance Associates (RCA)® has helped thousands of pharmaceutical companies meet regulatory, compliance, quality assurance, and remediation challenges. With more than 20 years of experience with FDA, Health Canada, EU and global regulatory agencies worldwide, RCA offers leading pharmaceutical consultants that can help you navigate through the challenges associated with evolving industry regulations.


Our team of over 500 seasoned FDA, Health Canada and EU compliance consultants and regulatory affairs experts can understand the complexities surrounding the pharmaceutical industry and the unique inner workings of the regulatory process. 


Client Solutions


Whether you’re in the product planning, development or pharmaceutical lifecycle management stage or need a remediation strategy for a compliance crisis, RCA® Inc. will guide you through every step of the regulatory process and create a customized approach depending on your product and your pharma company’s individual needs. Our clients include:


  • Companies new to FDA, Health Canada or EU regulations and the pharmaceutical industry
  • Start-up organizations with novel submissions to 510(k) submissions from multi-national corporations
  • Investment firms seeking private equity due diligence for pre-acquisition and post-deal research
  • Law firms seeking expertise in the remediation of warning letters, consent decrees, 483’s or import bans


Regulatory Affairs


Regulatory affairs is Regulatory Compliance Associates® Inc.’s backbone and we fully understand the complexities of the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industries. Our expertise spans all facets and levels of Regulatory Affairs, from Regulatory Support for New Products to Life Cycle Management, to other services like Outsourced Regulatory Affairs, Submissions, Training, and more.


As your partner, we can negotiate the potential assessment minefield of pharmaceuticals with insight, hindsight, and the clear advantage of our breadth and depth of knowledge and experience. We offer the following four regulatory affairs services for pharmaceutical companies.


  • New Product Support
  • Product Lifecycle
  • Other Regulatory Services


Compliance Assurance


The regulations process surrounding pharmaceutical companies can be tricky for even the most experienced industry veteran to understand, and just one misstep could mean significant and lasting consequences for your business. At RCA® Inc., we offer the experience and resources necessary to guide you in quality compliance.


  • Assessments
  • Audits
  • Regulatory Agency Response
  • Preparation and Training
  • Inspection Readiness


Quality Assurance


Regulatory Compliance Associates® Inc.’s Quality Assurance services include assessments, strategy, implementations, staff augmentations, and identification of quality metrics to ensure continuous improvement, aligning with your business needs and goals. Our consultants are quality experts with experience spanning major corporations and start-ups. We know firsthand how to achieve, maintain, and improve quality, and we excel in transferring this knowledge to your organization.


  • 21 CFR Part 11
  • Data Integrity
  • Manufacturing Support
  • Facility Support




Regulatory Compliance Associates® Inc. has significant experience and a proven approach to managing FDA Warning Letters, Consent Decrees, Remediation and other serious regulatory situations. We know how to partner with executive, legal, and communication teams, and will assist management with a response that will be accepted by the regulatory agency and be realistic to execute.


We can develop a comprehensive proof book of documented objective evidence demonstrating the corrective actions taken to remediate non-compliant issues. In addition, RCA can help prepare a comprehensive strategy to assist in your remediation efforts, drive continuous improvement, and maintain compliance with the regulations.


  • Regulatory Action
  • Warning Letter
  • 483 Observation
  • Oversight Services


About RCA


Regulatory Compliance Associates® (RCA) provides healthcare consulting services to the following industries for resolution of compliance and regulatory challenges:



We understand the complexities of running a life science business and possess areas of expertise that include every facet of R&D, operations, regulatory affairs, quality, and manufacturing. We are used to working on the front lines and thriving in the scrutiny of FDA, Health Canada, MHRA and globally-regulated companies.


As your partners, we can negotiate the potential minefield of regulatory compliance and regulatory due diligence with insight, hindsight, and the clear advantage of our unique expertise and experience.


  • Founded in 2000
  • Headquartered in Wisconsin (USA)
  • Expertise backed by over 500 industry subject matter experts
  • Acquired by Sotera Health in 2021


About Sotera Health


The name Sotera Health was inspired by Soteria, the Greek goddess of safety, and reflects the Company’s unwavering commitment to its mission, Safeguarding Global Health®.


Sotera Health Company, along with its three best-in-class businesses – Sterigenics®Nordion® and Nelson Labs®, is a leading global provider of mission-critical end-to-end sterilization solutions and lab testing and advisory services for the healthcare industry. With a combined tenure across our businesses of nearly 200 years and our industry-recognized scientific and technological expertise, we help to ensure the safety of over 190 million patients and healthcare practitioners around the world every year.


We are a trusted partner to more than 5,800 customers in over 50 countries, including 40 of the top 50 medical device companies and 8 of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies.



To begin the RCA® scoping process today, please enter your information in the blue form below and click the submit button at the bottom of the webpage. 



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