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Brenda Percy

Training

Six Benefits of Cloud-Based Quality Management Systems

Improve your organization’s abilities: flexibility, scalability, and visibility

Published: Thursday, July 9, 2015 - 08:33

When looking for the best quality management system (QMS) for your business, there are certain traits to take into consideration to ensure you get the most value out of the system in the long run. Here are six of them.

1. Flexibility to make the system your own

Flexibility is an important aspect of the software. The system should allow you to automate the process of collecting quality events, conducting corrective actions on those events, and providing document control. This covers the standard workflow for quality management, but you should also be able to adjust these processes to suit your preference. In this respect, flexibility of the workflow is invaluable. It’s important to look for a system that can adapt to your existing processes and change when the processes change. This is one of the key considerations when looking into software solutions and can affect future functionality and cost.

For instance, some software systems are built on a generic best-practices approach that can be changed only through additional time and cost. This means that the business process you’ve spent years perfecting will have to be discarded, and you will have to implement a new process—and train your employees on that process. The cost of making these changes to adapt to your system can eventually outweigh the initial cost of the system.

A flexible QMS will allow you to easily configure keywords, logins, and pages as you’d like—essentially, it’s the ability to make the software your own. Graphical tools such as drag and drop allow the user to make changes to the look and feel of the system, without the need for programming knowledge. This in itself is a key part in making the user comfortable with the system.

Cloud-based QMSs are inherently flexible; you can manage loads more quickly, without the constraints of an in-house server. When in-house, if the server is overloaded, you're out of luck; in the cloud, more memory is simply added.

2. More focus on the business, less on the software

Quality management solutions are designed to help streamline and improve business processes. However, heavy administrative tasks often shift a company’s focus toward ensuring the software is configured properly and working, which takes the focus off of the business. Cloud-based delivery models help to eliminate this administrative burden, allowing users to focus on the business and not the software. Essentially, in a cloud environment, the vendor is running the show from its end, leaving the company free to focus on the things that matter most to their business.

3. Scalability to grow with you

Scalability is the software’s ability to grow in proportion to your business without functionality being affected. As businesses become more successful, growth is the logical progression. The more successful your organization, the more business you will bring in. This will lead to a need for more employees, more locations—and more software systems to accommodate this growth, unless you have a scalable QMS in place.

When looking into QMSs for your organization, it’s important to consider the scalability of the system to support future growth and ultimately to ensure you that you will never outgrow the system.

Modular systems tend to be very scalable because each part of the software—whether corrective action, audits, or employee training—can be expanded as much as necessary.

Because the cloud-based QMS expands in proportion to your growing business, there’s no concern for hardware limitations or bandwidth requirements because the system can increase memory and bandwidth as needed to maximize your performance. Regardless of how many new employees you acquire or the number of offices you open around the world, your cloud-based system can accommodate it.

4. Visibility into all of your data, everywhere

Often there’s so much data coming into the organization that it can become difficult to ensure proper visibility. However, visibility is an integral part of fostering change within your organization. You can’t change what you don’t see. A cloud-based QMS sets out to remedy this, and that’s where the reporting tool comes in.

The QMS simplifies the process of reporting by automating it for you. Using reporting tools, you can create report templates, schedule impromptu reports with drill-down capabilities, and create reports in minutes. These capabilities will increase visibility throughout all areas of your business, ensuring that you see have insight into anything that needs improvement.

The cloud enables worldwide access for everyone. You can access your environment from anywhere in the world, through your web browser, meaning functionality is always at your fingertips.

5. Optimized IT resources

Enterprise software is traditionallyan IT-intensive task. Whether maintaining the hardware, managing upgrades or promotions, keeping connectivity, or executing backups, enterprise software can drain a company’s IT resources. One of the factors that makes cloud deployment so attractive is that cloud vendors can manage all of the tasks related to IT. This frees up internal IT resources, enabling companies to lessen IT’s burden on enterprise solutions.

Because you or the IT department don’t need to maintain hardware, you will save money. You won’t have to secure hardware, connectivity, or other IT infrastructure. A cloud QMS reduces IT resources and the expensive costs associated with maintaining a server-based QMS.

6. The ability to make the system your own

The software also provides you with the ability to “brand” the system with your organization’s look and feel. The ability to change colors, logos, fonts, and general layout of the navigators, forms, and reports is often an afterthought, but it plays a huge part in user adaptability to the system. Many systems will offer some level of configurability, but this usually won’t extend to the layouts themselves. End users must contend with the vendor’s design and format choices, which will be foreign to them. The ability to control all aspects of the software’s user interface helps gain user acceptance of the software, and user buy-in is one of the major contributors to a software implementation’s success.

User buy-in will be quicker if the system uses familiar colors, layouts, and concepts. Look for a solution that will provide complete configurability of the user interface, so that the system can be modified, without programming, to match the exact user interface standards implemented in other web-based systems, such as the company’s intranet, or even the company’s external website. The ability to “brand” the system is a critical part of evaluating whether the new system will be a good fit.

This ability to make the system your own also promotes productivity. The virtual nature of cloud-based software means that implementation time is greatly reduced, meaning you have more time to do other things that are important to your business.

Closing thoughts

The above traits help to make everyday business processes easier on you by automating the nuances involved in common tasks. The cloud-based QMS also automates and manages common business practices such as corrective action, document control, auditing, risk management, and more.

The cloud has made QMS solutions more accessible to organizations of all sizes, and using the cloud-based QMS to automate your business needs will result in a standard, consistent and repeatable process. The characteristics listed here are signs of a QMS that will provide long-term value for your organization and result in measurable return on investment.

Brenda Percy is the product marketing analyst at VERSE Solutions, a Quality Digest content partner.

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About The Author

Brenda Percy’s picture

Brenda Percy

Brenda Percy is the product marketing analyst at VERSE Solutions, based in Farmingdale, New York. She is responsible for communicating overall technology trends and compliance initiatives to the market, and has an extensive background in quality and compliance technologies.