As the product manager of M-Files QMS, I regularly speak with customers about their implementations. And while some might consider Quality Management Systems a dry topic, its concepts can be applied to some interesting aspects of pop culture. For instance, Star Wars is all the rage (again), and I’m a big fan. I’ve been recently thinking about “Star Wars IV: A New Hope” (the one that started it all) and if quality was correctly managed while the Death Star was being constructed. What would have happened if the Galactic Empire used M-Files? Would the Rebel Alliance still have been able to destroy the Death Star?
I have my doubts—but let’s look at a few reasons why:
The Rebel Alliance would not have been able to steal the Death Star plans
The Rebel Alliance learned of the construction project for the Death Star through an informant. The Alliance formed a strategy to steal the blueprints so they could examine them for vulnerabilities. There were multiple plans and parties involved in this operation. Toprawan Rebels gained most of the tech specs before they could be transferred to the Imperial Information Center— and the rest were stolen by a former Stormtrooper. When combined, the two sets formed a complete schematic of the Death Star.
If the Galactic Empire was using M-Files, they would have been able to lock down security on the plans so that only the Death Star’s architect, Bevel Lemelisk, and senior Empire officials could access them. The fact that multiple parties were able to access and download the plans was clearly a violation of document control best practices and a serious data breach. Furthermore, if the Imperial Information Center were conducting timely internal audits—they would have realized that the plans were stolen/copied and put extreme measures in place to guard against sabotage of the Death Star project.
The Galactic Empire would have caught the design flaw in the exhaust port
The Death Star’s architect had quite a challenge on his hands. He needed to design thermal exhaust ports large enough to vent exhaust from a moon sized battle station with a laser powerful enough to blow up a planet. I’m not sure what type of good manufacturing practices or Galactic ISO guidelines he had to use, as this was the very first Death Star. However, I think there were some design best practices that this person ignored that might have thwarted the negative outcome.
I’m envisioning one as “Orbital Battle Station Best Practice A12568: Ensure there is no open, straight channel/port from environment/space to reactor core.” Because Orbital Battle Stations need to be literally battle-ready, Lemelisk kept the port—which led directly to the reactor system—only two meters wide. He also ensured it was ray-shielded. However—he didn’t consider another weapon type: the photon torpedo. For those of you who aren’t Star Wars fans— photon torpedoes were dropped into this port—which caused the chain reaction leading to the destruction of the Death Star.
If the Galactic Empire Death Star Project had used M-Files QMS as part of their manufacturing process, a number of factors would have made sure the Death Star was adequately protected. It is my belief that:
- The Galactic Empire Quality Team would have recorded a risk of there being both laser cannons AND torpedo fire during a battle.
- During the content approval of the plans, the plans would likely have been rejected because the risk wasn’t being addressed.
- If the flaw had snuck through the design approval process, there would have been several audits during the construction process and a Non-Conformance would have been recorded regarding the exhaust port and a Corrective Action created to mitigate the risk.
- By using M-Files QMS, the Galactic Empire Quality Team would have been able to have full visibility and traceability from the plans creation and who missed the original error, through to the audit that found the problem, the actions taken to resolve it and even to the next version of the plans that included the updated design.
We don’t want to leave you with the impression that we’re rooting for the Dark Side; we are just suggesting that had the Galactic Empire used M-Files they would have been able to protect the Death Star and the Rebel Alliance would never have won the Battle of Yavin.
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