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 article highlights the process you should follow when selecting a software solution.
A good place to start is by looking at what things the system needs to do from a functionality point of view.
A compliance management system must facilitate data capture for all conceivable record types, as many as required, in a structured format. It must have the ability to organize them according to pertinent qualifiers, and automate completion of work through a business process defined by your own organization. The process must follow the procedures of the organization and departments that use the software. All data and signatures should be captured electronically, and without paper, thereby replacing the need to have “documents” circulating for signature and review.
Automatic notification capabilities are also important. Notification facilitates efficient inter-departmental communications, enabling staff members to be informed of all meaningful events on a timely basis and in a consistent manner. A system that notifies users of critical events, achievement of mile stones or when work is required, will help to shorten cycle times.
An effective enterprise compliance system will prevent issues from slipping behind schedule by automatically escalating action items that are not following expected timelines. “Escalation” may be notifying someone, re-assigning work or creating an action item to document the deviation from the process. SOP enforcement is also important as it takes the human element out of the equation. For instance, by automatically calculating due dates the system can ensure they are set correctly based on issue classification or risk level. Additional benefit can be derived from the automatic scheduling of tasks and work assignments to appropriate individuals. All of these “business rules” should be determined based on validated, pre-determined conditions.
Finally the system must ensure that employees involved in the business process are able to find information quickly, and therefore the system should provide a reliable and easy-to-use mechanism for searching the database and retrieving required data. All information should be accessible on demand, and without delay.
Further, it is crucial that the system is able to provide this information in meaningful report formats, provide statistical analysis, trending views, and the “big picture” of where the organization stands with its quality related processes.
Article reproduced with permission from Food Quality & Safety:
Author: Steven R. Cagle
A good idea is to ask for references and chat to current users of the software solutions to understand the real issues they face and how the software assist them. This avoids the sales hype and gives you a realistic view point. Evaluate several option before making a decision.
The ability to easily generate reports is vital. Many people I have worked with take 2-3 weeks to prepare for a management review. The software MUST solve this problem at the very least.