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Conquering Compliance Management with Technology Part 1

By Food Quality & Safety on 24 October 2016

We all know the mountain of paperwork that can be generated from a food safety management system. Add to the quality, OHS and the pile grows. Everyone is looking for solutions and there are many out there. This series of article highlights the pro’s and con’s of using technology. Part 1 looks at the need to take an holistic approach to a software solution.

Managing food safety compliance-related events and actions including deviations, audits, observations, change controls, complaints, corrective and preventive actions and other regulatory processes, requires both formal procedures and effective processes to ensure closure. In addition to quality initiatives, companies need to manage environmental issues and actions, employee health and safety incidents and investigations, Sarbanes-Oxley risk areas, and other regulatory accountabilities. Managing all of these processes, compounded with the additional corporate responsibility of compliance with internal policies and procedures related to privacy, human resources, tariffs and others, results in what appears to be an almost insurmountable challenge.

Challenges to Overcome

Control of these processes is essential, as even a single misstep can lead to fines, law suits and expensive contract remediation.

The common denominator among all of these compliance processes is the need to manage and track related events and actions from start to completion. Documenting, tracking and trending processes that carry such a high risk cannot be accomplished using paper-based systems, or disconnected and rudimentary electronic solutions.

Now more than ever, manufacturers in all of these industries are proactively searching for solutions to manage regulatory compliance. Three main challenges present themselves:

1) Finding robust and flexible systems which can support both compliance and business needs;

2) integrating the plethora of compliance related processes at hand;

3) implementing these systems in an expeditious and cost effective manner.

Even more daunting than addressing known compliance needs is the looming threat of additional compliance requirements in the years to come.

The answer lies in what is termed an “enterprise compliance management platform.”

Standardization Realization

It is important to appreciate that an enterprise compliance management platform is not a myriad of separate software programs organized as silos of information. Traditionally, companies have been responding to compliance needs by implementing separate point solutions or individual software modules. While various tools exist for different compliance needs, a strategic platform provides an organization the ability to address and integrate any possible compliance process as part of its inherent architecture.

A standardized platform provides the necessary ability to integrate data, workflow and reporting without costly customization and validation effort. Further, by implementing one system rather than many, organizations can significantly reduce the cost of licenses, hardware, validation, training and maintenance.

Many professionals that have already taken the enterprise compliance platform route will advise careful consideration when choosing which system will best serve its vast and evolving needs. It is easy to become overwhelmed with one or two areas of pain. Implementing an enterprise quality and compliance platform requires that an organization looks at the bigger picture. The system must have certain attributes and qualities to meet long term needs and to scale to global proportions. The next article look at these essential qualities.

 

Article reproduced with permission from Food Quality & Safety:
http://www.foodqualityandsafety.com/article/conquering-compliance-management/  
Author: Steven R. Cagle

 

Editor’s note:

A cautionary note, implementing a software solution is not a quick fix. Take the time to clearly define your requirements and the scope of the project. There are security aspects which must also be considered for access to data, security of data, back ups etc. Make sure your IT department is involved from the outset to avoid issues with hardware.

Also make sure you understand how long the implementation of the project will take and how much data will need to be re-entered into the system. This is usually overlook and is a huge barrier to effective implementation.

Finally don’t think for a minute that a software solution is going to sort out a system that is not functioning on paper. If you have a poor preventive maintenance system as a result of poor discipline, software won’t miraculously solve the people issues. In fact it can make them worse in my experience. Make sure you understand the root cause of your problem.

We would love to hear from you - What software systems are you using and what has your experience been?


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