Enterprisewide quality software
systems represent the next generation of business management
software tools. Why? Because they're designed to make companies
run efficiently in a highly competitive global marketplace.
Enterprisewide software will revolutionize business and
lead to enormous savings by reducing redundant data entry
while improving information management companywide--without
costly application software and hardware infrastructures
at every site and office.
Consider the quality-related software products on the
market today. Literally hundreds are available that support
only one function, such as documentation, calibration or
SPC. In addition, because these single-application products
are usually workstation or LAN/WAN-based, companies interested
in using them usually must purchase one package for each
of their locations.
Although a few packages boast a wide variety of functions,
most of them focus strictly on product quality and neglect
business systems. What's missing from these packages are
tools for customer focus, business objectives, organizational
improvement, process maps, business process flows, process
measurement, data analysis, data availability and teams.
These can all be classified as the customer focus and/or
objectives setting, which includes process focus, data analysis
and continual improvement.
The second major problem area with most software packages
involves integrating the individual site(s) and the organization
as a whole. How are documents shared between sites? How
are data rolled up from departments to sites to business
units and finally aggregated at the corporate level? For
the most part, these packages are site- rather than enterprise-oriented.
Their developers might not have considered the entire enterprise
when designing the software. Documentation or data analysis
might only be available on a site-by-site basis. Needless
to say, sharing information and linking functions between
sites and even discrete business units within any organization
Broadly speaking, enterprisewide software has two critical
characteristics that differentiate it from more task-specific
packages: broad functionality and a companywide focus. Specifically,
this software includes the following features:
An enterprisewide--rather than site-specific--focus
A scope that includes the entire business, not just product
quality and quality functions
Greater functionality than ISO 9001:2000
A linked network between:
• Customers, objectives, performance measurement
and continual improvement
• Customer expectations, company objectives, personal
objectives, teams and continual improvement
• Products, new product development, FMEAs, control
plans and work instructions
• Products, gages, and calibration and measurement
• Process maps, process flows, process measurables
Documentation flexibility and effectiveness
Auditing software flexibility and effectiveness
A focus on enterprisewide improvement
Enterprisewide software allows an entire system to be
installed in one place and on one server. Whether it's used
for audit administration, document management or process
analysis and improvement, the software can support one site
or 100--it isn't constrained by a LAN or site-specific requirements.
Enterprisewide software isn't about duplicating the functions
of one site at 100 others but rather addressing the complexities
of how information, resources and data can be shared between
sites and managed either centrally or at various "nodes"
within the organization.
the difference between documentation software designed for
one site vs. an entire enterprise? Site documentation takes
into account the documentation structure of that site alone--a
specific quality manual, procedures, work instructions and
forms and checklists. Even if the software has been flexibly
designed for multiple levels, it doesn't address the entire
organization's needs. How does enterprisewide software handle
this? Typically, one quality manual is shared by all sites,
even though two procedural levels exist--common and site-specific.
Enterprisewide software provides the flexibility to design
documentation at, say, site No. 100 that incorporates separate
documentation from all or none of the other 99 sites. It
provides standardized document control and consistent naming
and/or numbering conventions for documents and records throughout
the organization. It allows site No. 100 the flexibility
of maintaining its own levels of documents. This includes
the ability to establish a naming convention for its levels,
borrow all or none of the documentation from other levels
and create documentation.
In contrast, site-specific documentation software must
be individually installed at each of the 100 sites. At most,
the site packages can talk to each other if they're based
on Lotus Notes or other groupware, and allow users to update
specific common documents. More often than not, such software
is mutually dependent and requires workstation application
software to support it, whereas enterprisewide software
is accessible through a Web browser already available at
However, the fact that software is Web-based doesn't guarantee
it's also enterprise-oriented. One Web-based documentation
software vendor told our company that all documents could
be used and/or accessed by all the sites if we purchased
individual Web-based packages for each site. When we explained
that only some of the documents would be shared by each
of the sites, the vendor suggested we install its package
at each site. In other words, the typical site package allows
all sites access to all documents or each site access to
its own independent set of documents, but neither option
provides the flexibility and integration of a true Web-based
How would a site-specific auditing package function? It
would focus on one task (e.g., internal audits for one standard).
Enterprisewide software, by contrast, would typically consider
that individual sites might apply for different standards.
For example, in large organizations, some sites might be
ISO 9001:2000-registered, others QS-9000-registered, and
still others might be upgrading to ISO/TS 16949:2002 while
also implementing ISO 14000 and conducting safety and health
compliance audits. Enterprisewide software can handle the
complexity of multiple standards, checklists and audits.
In fact, it can support internal system, process, product,
safety, environmental and financial audits in one package.
It can also handle ISO 9001:1994, ISO 9001:2000, ISO 14000,
QS-9000 and supplier audits all in one package. Additionally,
the software can share auditors, audits and schedules between
An organization's business success dictates that its enterprisewide
software focus on more than product quality and quality
management systems documentation. Packages that focus primarily
on these are easy to spot. One popular enterprise vendor's
modules offer the following: documents, training, control
plans and/or FMEAs, maintenance, calibration, inspection
data, supplier management and auditing.
Another vendor provides these modules: documents, audits,
corrective action and quality records, including training,
calibration, customer complaints, engineering change and
design review. Any package that doesn't address customer
needs and expectations, organizational objectives, objectives
deployment, performance measurement, customer satisfaction,
continuous improvement and business processes--and neither
of these packages do--isn't focused on the business.
One way to judge a software's business focus is to see
if it covers, at a minimum, ISO 9001:2000 functionality.
(See the table below.)
From this matrix, it's clear that two leading enterprisewide
software packages don't have a business or ISO 9001:2000
focus. That's because many packages were designed for ISO
9001:1994 and its now-outdated element structure and product-quality
focus (i.e., inspection and product measurement).
A critical element of enterprisewide software is its link
between modules and functions. At a minimum, there should
be links between customer expectations, objectives, processes
and process measurables.
Other links exist be-tween customer expectations, company
objectives, personal objectives, teams and continual improvement.
This is a natural extension of the previous alignment between
what customers want and how an organization establishes
its objectives, performance measurements and data analysis.
Finally, these objectives must be deployed to employees
and linked to actual process or result measurables. This
also supports a much more objective employee performance
How do organizations and/or departments accomplish these
objectives? To close the gap between measurables and goals,
organizations create teams and use such tools as 8-D, action
plans and meeting minutes to drive improvements. Software
should help this process along.
Still other links exist between products, new product
development, FMEAs, control plans, and work and/or process
instructions. Effective organizations use these tools to
launch new products and improve all their key business processes.
Software should help facilitate this.
Other links exist between products, gages, gage control
and calibration, and measurement systems analysis. Product
and process control require gages for inspection and testing.
Before use, inspection and test equipment must be calibrated
and measurement system variability studied and reduced.
This link must be defined and managed for both existing
and new products.
Finally, a very important link for business-oriented software
exists between process maps, flows, measurables, analysis
and improvement. Process maps display an organization's
overall process structure. Each of the processes in the
map can be flowed to describe its activities, responsibilities,
inputs, outputs, characteristics and acceptance criteria.
By using process maps and flows, processes can be measured
One of the key requirements for an enterprisewide software
system is document access for relevant employees. Such accessibility
shouldn't be confined to offices or sites. In today's business
environment, employees must be able to access information
and documents on the road--when visiting customers or suppliers,
for example. And this isn't simply about viewing Web-enabled
documents; it's also about making transactions and conducting
business while traveling. One of the prerequisites of a
good enterprisewide system is that it's "all Web,"
not just Web-enabled. Ideally, users should only need to
use a Web browser to do their work.
Effective software is also flexible enough to handle documentation
in any format, including the one the organization currently
uses, if appropriate. The company shouldn't have to convert
or retype documents to accommodate the system's requirements.
The software can provide one level of documentation, or
fifteen, to suit the organization. Users can instantly route
document changes to anyone in the organization. Review and
approval routings are automated as appropriate: If the organization
requires that one person review all level one documents,
for instance, then the software will automatically route
documents to that person last without having to input his
or her name every time a change requires approval.
Viewing documents should be like opening a book with a
prominent, easy-to-use table of contents. With enterprisewide
software, links are built in to navigate easily between
levels and documents. The software allows users to view
the status of documents in the change process, as well as
a document's change history. It also provides automatic
notification via e-mail to the people in a given routing
for all documents waiting for change. It continues notifications
at a user-defined frequency and then escalates that to a
higher level if needed. It also automatically notifies all
affected users when a new document, or a change to an existing
one, is approved. Documentation efficiency and effectiveness
is possible if documents are easily accessible and changed.
An organization should be able to use its own forms and
checklists in auditing management software. It should be
able to input all audit types, including process, product,
systems, housekeeping and/or safety. Its auditing software
should man-age all auditing programs, including ISO 9001:1994,
ISO 9001:2000, ISO/TS 16949:2002, ISO 14001, TL 9000, AS9100,
as well as supplier audits.
Effective auditing management software manages human resources,
such as tracking auditor qualifications and/or certifications
and auditing activities, while permitting only qualified
auditors to be assigned--and to conduct--specific types
of audits. It helps users easily access and manage auditing
and auditor schedules. Typically, organizations follow the
same cycle of audits for one quarter and then the entire
year. Good software allows easy scheduling.
It also tracks and reports scheduled audits that aren't
made, those that are made but missed, the number of corrective
actions issued, corrective action due dates, missed dates
and an explanation of why a corrective action report remains
open. It provides a report and visual display for this information.
Then it sends out e-mail reminders to auditors and auditees
at a user-defined frequency and escalates the notices if
scheduled activities aren't completed in a timely fashion.
Another key to effective companywide management involves
data availability, visual data analysis and managing continual
improvement. Consider this the payback for installing and
using enterprisewide software. It provides and manages information
about quality, cost, delivery and technology as well as
other parameters critical to both customers and management.
It makes a broad range of enterprise data--including quality,
cost and delivery performance--available at the corporate
level, business unit level, plant or operational level,
product and service type level, even the department level.
Such data availability, called drill downs, facilitates
data analysis and problem solving, from failure mode-specific,
to process, to systemwide. Data are available in many formats
for analysis and interpretation, and certainly as trend
and Pareto charts.
The software easily and efficiently facilitates forming
and managing teams to work on identified problems. Teams
have access to tracking indicators (tools for managing the
project) for process analysis and disciplined problem solving,
and for creating action plans to work on enterprisewide
At all levels, the entire data architecture or data management
system is available for conducting management and/or review
and business planning.
Enterprisewide software is also concerned with continual
improvement and offers more than a series of procedural
lists and forms that people fill out in order to comply
with a standard. The software helps build effectiveness
and efficiency into processes. It's also flexible enough
to fit the company's environment while helping to institutionalize
best-in-class approaches and techniques.
Today, many businesses still suffer from the inefficiency,
delays, added cost and unreliability of redundant data entry
into multiple, discrete, function-specific software packages,
including documentation, auditing, calibration, quality
planning, human resources and engineering. Most often this
redundant data entry takes place in a variety of venues
within the organization--departments, plants, business units
and corporate divisions and departments.
During the 1990s, Omnex helped develop and implement a
QOS process for hundreds of Ford Motor Co. suppliers around
the world. As typically implemented by organizations, this
methodology required one week of work for data preparation
and one week to hold the meeting. Thus this activity could
cause a potential two week downtime in which management
would have taken time away from improvement duties. Imagine
the savings if an enterprisewide software system had been
installed. In just a couple of hours the data would have
been readily available and easy to analyze for business
and operations reviews.
Such timely access, available through enterprisewide software,
can facilitate effective decision making and significant
Chad Kymal is CEO of Omnex Inc., an international consulting,
training and software organization specializing in business
quality improvement methodologies. He is a consultant and
trainer and also serves as a lead auditor for AQSR, an accredited
registrar that is qualified to conduct ISO/TS 16949:2002
assessments. Kymal has served in the past two years on the
Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Board of Examiners.
He also founded Omnex Systems, which developed the 100-percent
Web-based EwQMS system, including AQuA Pro, Audit Pro, BOSS,
Document Pro, HR Pro, MSA Pro, Process Pro and TPM Pro.
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