Evolving from paper and spreadsheets
As the digital age continues to evolve, businesses must seek ways to innovate, automate and optimize. And while many cutting-edge companies might happily embrace the newest tech related to their specific industry, they are often mired in the Mesozoic Era in other vital aspects of their business, especially with their Quality Management System (QMS). They may have automated top-of-the-line manufacturing processes and yet still cling to “pencil and paper” and spreadsheets for their QMS, especially regarding document control and management. Does your company still rely on paper, spreadsheets, or SharePoint solutions? If so, it’s time to evolve. You must leave paper and spreadsheet-based processes behind and embrace an integrated QMS.
Many companies choosing to use a paper-based ISO 9000-compliant (or other industry standards) QMS system operate under the assumption that it’s affordable and efficient. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Often, such an obsolete system adds to staff workload, creates inefficiencies, and costs the company more in the long run.
Paper-based systems can tank employee productivity. In 2021, Wakefield Research surveyed 1,000 US-based office professionals.
The survey found that more than half — 54% — say they waste time searching for necessary documents and files, with the vast majority (81%) admitting they can’t find an important document when they’re put on the “hot seat” by a boss or client. The report states, “Constant searching for documents during the workday is wasting time and reducing employee productivity…Organizations must ensure their employees have the tools they need to accomplish work quickly and efficiently, and not get lost in organizational rabbit holes.”
A growing company will have to develop hundreds—if not thousands—of procedures to control quality operations. If this is done with a paper-based or spreadsheet-based QMS, it will require thousands upon thousands of documents.
On such a large scale, the document control process alone becomes incredibly unwieldy; reviewing documents, making revisions, filing records, and storing paper and spreadsheet files end up requiring considerable time and effort to manage.
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About ETQ: ETQ, part of Hexagon, is the leading provider of quality, EHS and compliance management SaaS software, trusted by the world’s strongest brands. More than 600 customers globally, spanning industries such as pharmaceuticals, electronics, heavy industry, food and beverage, and medical devices, benefit from ETQ to secure positive brand reputations, enable higher levels of customer loyalty and enhance profitability. ETQ Reliance offers built-in best practices and powerful flexibility to drive business excellence through quality. Only ETQ lets customers configure industry-proven quality processes to their unique needs and business vision. ETQ was founded in 1992 and has main offices located in the U.S. and Europe. To learn more about ETQ and its various product offerings, visit www.etq.com.
Hexagon is a global leader in digital reality solutions. Learn more about Hexagon (Nasdaq Stockholm: HEXA B) at hexagon.com and follow us@HexagonAB.
© ETQ, LLC, part of Hexagon 2022
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Time to Drop Paper and Spreadsheet-based Processes Management
Even seemingly minor changes can significantly impact your business and bottom line when running a mid to large-sized company. Recently, food and beverage giant SUBWAY® needed a way to streamline the tracking of its vendor requests, submissions, and negotiations. By implementing document control, the company could quickly set up new suppliers, get products to market faster, and improve business growth and franchisee profitability. When businesses are looking for any possible competitive advantage, small changes can add up to make a huge difference. But how do you decide which changes to focus on first? For many businesses, improving your document control processes — abandoning spreadsheets and paper trails for an automated solution — makes sense.
"Constant searching for documents during the
workday is wasting time and reducing employee productivity…Organizations must ensure their
employees have the tools they need to accomplish work quickly and efficiently, and not get lost in organizational
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What is QMS?
A quality management system is a formalized operating procedure that systematically documents critical processes and workflows to help a company achieve its specific goals and quality objectives to ensure customer satisfaction.
Such a system aims to help organize and optimize business practices and create a system that enables continuous improvement.
When Ken Croucher, the recognized father of Quality Management Systems, first developed his ideas in ’91, the fundamental objective was to seek compliance by creating uniform procedures and processes, such as: Quality goods or services make for happy customers. However, the quality in question can only maintain its integrity if it remains consistent across every facet of the organization. To that end, the ISO 9000 standard emphasized seven quality management principles:
The Problem with Paper
Such standards dictate that a company must be able to do the following:
Create fully developed and documented processes and procedures Fashion a robust outline of responsibilities and roles
Comply with internal standards and industry regulations
Track, manage, and store data efficiently
In the past, these processes used rudimentary document control
and tracking instruments like Excel spreadsheets and SharePoint—companies made do with the tools at their disposal.
This method, however, lives in the past. And it’s dying. Quickly.
Remote and Dispersed Workforce
The two primary goals of ETQ’s Reliance QMS and EHS software are to help companies eliminate the “paper chase” and increase visibility and communication between departments by providing them with automated tools that handle:
Control for all document types
Integration with Microsoft Office
Smart business rules for review and approval
Change request and revision control
Intuitive filtering and data security
Corrective Action (CAPA)
Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS)
Centralized Reporting Audit Management
That’s accomplished by cutting-edge compliance software utilizing built-in best practices developed by quality champions in various industries. Such a fully integrated QMS has several tangible ROIs, including:
Improved data management – Real-time management and organization of all recorded data make it easier to uphold or respond to industry standards and guidelines.
Increased visibility – Provides a centralized data and documentary storeroom that multiple users can access in real-time in separate locations.
Waste reduction – Completely eliminates the need for paper. That’s good for the environment, a company’s public image, and the bottom line.
Time savings – Employees and departments waste less time thanks to improved document control, automated processes, and heightened data visibility.
Better accessibility – Records are easy to edit, share, update, or access, ensuring record retention compliance and more efficient retrieval processes.
Cost savings – Electronic workflow decreases costs, both in labor and supplies. It also reduces mistakes, errors, or other inefficiencies that could hurt the bottom line.
Corrective actions – Heightened visibility and accessibility make it simpler to implement corrective actions to ensure that standards are met and upheld.
Flexibility – The highly configurable and flexible software is capable of meeting the needs of any business or production environment, regardless of scope or size. This easy-to-tune, optimized, and automated workflow capitalizes on the very nature of flexibility.
Naturally, these factors increase a company’s efficiency, accuracy, and throughput and, ultimately, improve product and service quality. As a result, leaving paper in the past for any QMS need allows a company to leverage its quality programs to create a significant and sustainable business advantage.
Eliminating the Paper Chase
At ETQ, “Quality Creates Trust,” and our customers trust us to deliver brand safety, product quality, and competitive advantage. Over the past two decades, we have established ourselves as the vanguard of the QMS industry, helping hundreds of mid to large-sized companies take the next step forward.
We currently work with more than 550 companies around the world, from startups to Fortune 1000 global brands, in highly quality-intensive industries such as:
Life Sciences (medical device and pharma)
Electronics and Technology
Food and Beverage
Heavy Industrial Manufacturing
We are certified or verified for compliance with ISO 9001, ISO 27001, Amazon Web Services (AWS), SOC 1 and 3, ITAR, HIPAA, and FedRAMP. ETQ has pioneered the movement to leave paper-based and spreadsheet-based quality programs in the past and helped companies of all sizes transition to an automated QMS that transforms their business practices. And with QMS, it’s not about losing an ounce; it’s about picking up considerable speed.
Out of sync documents and records
Obsolete documents remaining in circulation
Missing documents and records due to misfiling and loss
Inability to share documents and information between teams and team members
Hampered audit preparation
Lack of reporting and analytics ability
No way to check progress
Inconsistent employee training
No way to track creation, editing, and approval progress
Slowed risk analysis and complicated risk management
Whether by design or in response to a sudden disruption for any reason—like the recent pandemic—more companies are pursuing strategies that place workers outside of a central facility, either full-time, part-time, or on an as-needed basis. With no way to access, share, and process documents and workflows, aside from a local database or, literally, through reams of files in cabinets, paper-based and legacy database systems are not up to the challenge of supporting teams who need to work remotely.
As a result, the work of the quality team is severely restricted, and quality and safety systems are compromised. Paper-based and legacy software systems cannot effectively meet quality and safety needs in these scenarios.
As a result, this hinders team and business performance and results in a host of critical challenges, including:
Over time, such inefficiencies typically result in the following:
Loss of productivity – Due to the paper chase and inefficient links from one department to another.
Duplication – Waste resulting from lack of communication and visibility.
Employee turnover – Faulty or unnecessarily complicated processes thwart employees from maximizing their potential. Also necessary for any high-turnover business where employee training and re-training are critical.
Regulatory non-compliance – Arising from a lack of controls and oversight in response to potential problems. Companies are forced to be reactionary rather than proactive.
Audit failure – This can occur due to gaps in quality documentation, leading to increased compliance costs.
In the past, all companies had to work with paper- and spreadsheet-based QMS systems. They were the gold standard. But as is often the case, standards change. Now, these are no longer the status quo. They’ve been replaced by powerful software that delivers efficient and accurate document control, resulting in a paradigm shift within the QMS market.