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Conformance in the Clouds

Posted by Oscar Combs in Blog 28 Jul 2018

Introduction

Organizations that are still using Word and Excel spreadsheets and documents to administer their quality, health, safety and environmental management systems are being left behind.  Using Word and Excel to administer your management system data, is like using a typewriter or fax machine to run your business.  Are you still using these?  Management system professionals are estimated to spend up to 70% of their time creating spreadsheets, forms and entering data, as opposed to implementing their management system.  While they are spending time on these activities, the organization continues to suffer from the exact things that the management system is supposed to address. Many organizations are leaving the Word and Excel documents behind and moving the conformance of their management system into the clouds, so that their Managers can spend more time implementing and adding tangible value to their organizations.

The Management System Burden

Organizations must meet requirements of various management system standards, such as ISO 9001 (quality), ISO 14001 (environmental), ISO 17025 (testing and calibration labs), API Spec Q1\Q2 (quality for oil and gas), IATF 16949 (automotive), AS9100 (aerospace) and so many more.  There is so much data that an organization must maintaine to ensure conformance with management system standards for certification and to meet their customers’ requirements.  Organizations that must conform to one standard finds it difficult to maintain and those that must conform to more than one have even bigger challenges.  Here is a small list of some data that’s required to be maintained by management system standards: quality objectives, supplier evaluations, customer satisfaction, employee training, controlled document register, record retention schedule, nonconformities, corrective actions, preventive actions, audit findings, risk register, deviation \ change requests, incident reporting, meeting minutes, management review, calibration schedule and preventive maintenance schedules.  This is a simple list of 17 data requirements, but I could list about 17 more.  Administering a management system is a tremendous burden on an organization.  As opposed to really working to implement the management system and the organization reaping the benefits of the system, the managers are reduced to high paid data clerks and spend most of their time creating Excel spreadsheets and Word documents to track all of the data.  Once the spreadsheets and forms are created, then they spend the rest of their time entering the data, which leave very little time to actually manage the system.  The 17 items mentioned above, would most likely require 17 different Word or Excel document to be created at a minimum.  Organizations could potentially use at least 50 Word or Excel documents to administer all of the management system data that is required by management system standards.  To make matters worse, the spreadsheets and forms are not integrated, which causes the need to repeatedly enter the same data.  This has a negative impact on the organization.

The Business Impact

The purpose of a management system, should be to add value to the organization, not to bury the organization in paperwork.  How can a quality, health, safety or environmental professional bring real value when they are reduced to creating spreadsheets, forms and entering data?  While the Manager is busy creating documents and entering data, the organization continues to suffer from the exact issues that the management system was supposed to address.  Managers of these systems could spend up to 70% of their time creating spreadsheets, creating forms and entering data, with the focus on preparing for an audit from customers or certification bodies.  While the Manager is focused on creating spreadsheets, creating forms and entering data the organization is losing customers, suffering from supplier issues, late deliveries, customers returning products, employees not properly trained, employee injuries, etc.  These are the things that the Manager should be focusing on. To provide some relief to management system professionals, many organizations are moving their conformance to the cloud.

SaaS Application Management

Organizations are leaving their Word and Excel spreadsheets and documents behind for SaaS applications, which are hosted in the cloud.  SaaS stands for Software as a Service.  SaaS is a software licensing and delivery model, in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted.  SaaS is often referred to as, “on-demand software”.  SaaS applications are designed to meet the many requirements of management system standards, such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 17025, API Spec Q1\Q2, IATF 16949 and AS9100.  The great thing about SaaS applications, is that when standards change, the SaaS application is updated to meet the new requirements, which eliminates the need for the organization to design or redesign their spreadsheets and forms.  In a SaaS model, an organization purchases a license for its employees to use the SaaS application.  SaaS applications are stored on secure servers, such as IBM Cloud and Amazon Web Services and the data is encrypted, to eliminate information security concerns.  SaaS applications don’t require any IT involvement or design by users; therefore, users are able to gain value from day one, without having to design forms and spreadsheets to meet requirements of management system standards.  One such SaaS application is Conformance Manager.  Conformance Manager is designed by The ISO 9001 Group, a consulting firm based in Houston, Texas and is advertised as being designed by management system professionals for management system professionals.  Oscar Combs, President of The ISO 9001 Group states, “Conformance Manager was designed to allow management system professionals, the ability to add value to their organization by focusing on implementation and free them from being designers of spreadsheets and forms.” Conformance Manager can help organizations capture and administer the volumes of data required by management system standards, such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 17025, API Spec Q1\Q2, IATF 16949, AS9100 and others.  As opposed to being designed as a quality management system application, Conformance Manager is designed to meet the requirements of quality, health, safety and environmental management systems alike.  Conformance Manager integrates management system data and drastically reduces: data-entry, duplication and data analysis for management system professionals.

Top Benefits of SaaS Application Management

Designed to Meet Requirements – SaaS applications, such as Conformance Manager are designed to meet requirements, so an organization can be assured that they are meeting the latest requirements of management system standards, without incurring the cost and time of designing new or revised spreadsheets and forms.

Fully Integrated Modules – Think about how you currently have to type data into one Excel spreadsheet and then have to retype the same data into another spreadsheet, something simple as an employee’s name.  How about using Word documents to capture data, that you need to sort, filter or run reports on?  Word doesn’t analyze data to well. A SaaS application, such as Conformance Manager takes the data captured in one module and uses it for other modules, which eliminates the need to enter the same data multiple times.  This one feature could reduce a management system professional’s data entry time by at least 30% and drastically reduces data entry and errors.

Accessible Anywhere – Unlike Word and Excel documents, SaaS applications, such as Conformance Manager provides the ability to access an organization’s management system data from any internet-enabled device.  Imagine that you’re in a sales meeting with a potential customer and the topic of your management system comes up.  How impressive would it be, to bring up your management system data on the spot, so your customer can see your conformance in action?  Unlike spreadsheet and documents, a SaaS application can be designed to be shown on an iPhone, tablet or any other device.

Secure Data Storage and Backup – SaaS applications, such as Conformance Manager are hosted on servers, such as IBM Cloud and Amazon Web Services.  Any organization’s IT Department would be challenged to provide better information security than such organizations. These services also provide redundant back up, to prevent loss of any data.  Such secure hosting services eliminates the organization’s concern of the security of their data or uploaded documents.  Organizations should also ensure that their SaaS application is hosted on a secure site, which is indicated by the https:// in the URL of the website.  For example, Conformance Manager’s URL is https://conformancemanager.com, which indicates its protected with a security certification that provides SSL encryption and other controls to ensure data is always protected.

Task Management and Reminders – Unlike static spreadsheets and documents a SaaS application, such as Conformance Manager allows an organization to maintain visibility of actionable items and converts them into tasks and reminders to drive ownership and accountability. Using Word and Excel documents, employees and due dates are simply listed in the document but are forgotten and visibility lost when the Word and Excel documents are filed away.

Multi-Site Management – It’s very difficult to manage the data of multiple locations with spreadsheets and documents.  SaaS applications, such as Conformance Manager allows an organization to have full visibility of its management system across all sites within the organization.  This provides central oversight of the entire system across the various locations.  This is simply not possible with spreadsheets and documents.

Easy Data Analysis – When data is entered into a SaaS application, such as Conformance Manager data analysis, is simple and is a click away.  Management system professionals no longer need to take all of the data in their spreadsheets, develop formulas, calculations and spend additional time designing reports, for data analysis.  The great thing is that in many cases the reports that are designed in the SaaS application, will work for the user or the data can be downloaded for further manipulation.

Consider a SaaS Application

The benefits of using a SaaS application should be very clear.  Most SaaS applications for management systems are cost prohibitive and difficult to use, but Conformance Manager was found to have very simple and economical pricing.  A comparison of pricing of several SaaS applications ranged from $4k – $10k per year for only 5 users, while Conformance Manager pricing starts at $20 per month per user for up to 50 users, with further discounts after 50 users.  Conformance Manager offers a 14-day trial before making a purchasing decision. The features of Conformance Manager were found to be similar or more advanced than some of the pricier SaaS applications on the market. In conclusion, a SaaS application can help take an organization’s management system to the next level.  You can learn more about Conformance Manager by contacting The ISO 9001 Group at 832-326-9796 or at info@iso9001group.com.

Author

Oscar Combs to Keynote ASQ Houston's September Professional Development Dinner

Oscar Combs, Senior Consultant of The ISO 9001 Group, a management consulting, auditing and training firm based in Houston, Texas.  Oscar has over 23 years of experience working with management systems.  Oscar has worked with clients throughout North America, South America, Europe, The Middle East, Asia and Africa helping companies manage risk and improve their business operations.  Oscar holds an MBA from the University of Houston.  He is certified by Exemplar Global as a Principal Management Consultant and Lead Auditor. Oscar is also a Senior Member of the American Society for Quality and has served as the Programs Committee Chair for ASQ’s Houston Chapter 1405.

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