Q Manager
Doc. Mgmt.
Doc. Control



Enterprisewide software simplifies the
communication of data across any boundary.

by Robert Green

When an organization's quality improvement process begins generating benefits, such as cost savings and improved efficiency, the next step is clear: Expand the scope of the successful program to derive all of the positive return possible. To do so, an organization must include everyone in the process. And to that end, many are turning to enterprisewide software.

Enterprisewide Quality
Software Providers

AssurX Inc.

  • E-mail: info@assurx.com
  • 305 Vineyard Town Center, Ste. 374
  • Morgan Hill, CA 95037
  • Phone: (408) 778-1376

Computer Generated Solutions

  • 1675 Broadway
  • New York, NY 10019
  • Phone: (212) 408-3800

EtQ Inc.

  • E-mail: sales@etq.com
  • 399 Conklin St., Ste. 208
  • Farmingdale, NY 11735
  • Phone: (516) 293-0949

IBS America Inc.

  • E-mail: info@ibs-ag.com
  • One Cabot Road, Ste. 300
  • Medford, MA 02155
  • Phone: (781) 306-7710

IQS Inc.

  • E-mail: sales@iqs.com
  • 19706 Center Ridge Road
  • Cleveland, OH 44116
  • Phone: (800) 635-5901


  • 4460 Hacienda Drive
  • Pleasanton, CA 94588
  • Phone: (800) 380-7638

Pilgrim Software

  • 2807 W. Busch Blvd., Ste. 200
  • Tampa, FL 33618
  • Phone: (813) 915-1663

Powerway Inc.

PQ Systems Inc.

  • E-mail: sales@pqsystems.com
  • 10468 Miamisburg-Springboro Road
  • Miamisburg, OH 45342
  • Phone: (800) 777-3020


 Enterprisewide software can cure a number of problems that have long plagued businesses attempting to share critical information quickly and efficiently. The most powerful enterprisewide software is Web-based, which requires only a computer with an Internet connection and a Web browser to retrieve data. Because such applications are not local-area-network-based, the distance between the user and the data is irrelevant. Also, Web-based programs aren't platform-dependent, meaning that a Macintosh, a Windows PC and a UNIX machine can all access the same information. And another key benefit of Web-based solutions is that the browser provides all of the software necessary. As a result, the particular application with which any given data was saved need not be installed on the remote computer at which a user is trying to retrieve that data. Indeed, Web-based enterprisewide software is a godsend for quality personnel who need to share data between multiple offices, departments, sites, states, countries or even continents.

Enterprisewide statistical process control

 Statistical process control (SPC) software, for instance, was in the past too often overly specific and departmentalized, suitable perhaps for use on the factory floor but not compatible with other industrial automation systems. Because the data input into such applications was not easily communicable across the organization, the result was a number of isolated packets of information, whose use was significantly impeded by the workers' inability to get to them. Yet another pitfall inherent to such segregated data was redundant data input, which made for inefficiency at its worst.

 Now, however, statistical process control (SPC) software manufacturers are designing Web-based products that are truly enterprisewide. Such offerings are interoperable with other automation systems, can tie into the same SQL database used by front office administrators, and share data using communication protocols such as OLE.

 One popular enterprisewide SPC application is PQ Systems' client/server application CHARTrunner, which was released in July 2000. And just a month later, PQ Systems released CHARTrunner-e, a Web-based version of the program. CHARTrunner-e adds global access to CHARTrunner so that an organization's employees, management team, customers, suppliers and business partners can easily analyze data through a Web browser, no matter where they are.

 "What CHARTrunner-e enables you to do is connect to any type of database through an ODBC link," explains Matt Jansen, a product manager at PQ Systems. "You can also connect to standard ASCII text files or an Excel spreadsheet to extract data.

 "For example, a manufacturer that has a customer several states away who wants to track his or her order's processes, can give that customer a login and pass code enabling him or her to retrieve all that relevant SPC data in real-time, from literally anywhere in the world."


Enterprisewide corrective action management

 Yet another subcategory of enterprisewide applications is corrective action software. One such product is AssurX's CATSweb, a Web-based corrective action tracking system designed to meet ISO 9000's documentation requirements. CATSweb can be used to manage and solve manufacturing defects, return-material authorizations, customer complaints, supplier returns, R&D problem reports, audit discrepancies, software defects, product cycle times and product quality problems. But what makes this offering enterprisewide is not its extensive number of uses but its potential number of users.

 CATSweb is an n-tier, scalable application designed to be used in an intranet or Internet environment. Support for secure sockets layer (SSL) and multiple server clustering ensures that data is not only easily accessible but also secure. CATSweb can be run from any computer with any operating system, anywhere in the world. Therefore, companies with mixed environments of Microsoft Windows PCs, UNIX workstations and Macintoshes can access the same data to collaborate and solve problems faster. Ubiquitous access and a robust permissions model enable users to allow key suppliers and customers to be integrated into the organization's quality system. This ability can strengthen strategic bonds and improve cooperation and responsiveness.

 When Siemens Medical Systems, an FDA-approved manufacturer of medical devices and products, decided to seek out software for entering and tracking corrective action reports, it chose CATSweb, involving everyone in the organization in the quality improvement process.

 "We have changed our nonconformance report and corrective action processes," explains Anne Pribich, senior programmer analyst at Siemens Medical Systems. "In the past, we had data logged by only one person off of a paper form. Now manufacturing personnel enter the data. Our quality process has improved greatly because of CATS."

 Pribich says the software is helping users analyze the data more efficiently to make quality and cost savings decisions. "The system shows the 'closed loop' effect from corrective actions," she says.


Enterprisewide document control

 An example of broader enterprisewide software is offered by Computer Generated Solutions. CGS uses some of the latest technologies for developing customized knowledge management systems, including document management, document imaging, online reports, Web-based electronic forms,   Fax servers, workflow and collaboration tools. CGS works with state-of-the-art software packages that offer the most functionality, integrate with legacy applications, run on industry-standard servers and databases, and are implemented quickly and cost-effectively.

 CGS implements easy-to-use software that enables the creation, distribution and processing of information in electronic forms using the Web or across internal networks. Information is electronically gathered, automatically tracked and quickly processed. The result is increased customer satisfaction and employee productivity.


Enterprisewide suite

 Broader yet is Pilgrim's Quality & Manufacturing Integrated System (Q&MIS) suite. Q&MIS, like many of the products discussed earlier, is completely Web-based. What sets it apart is its scope. The software suite is billed as a turnkey enterprisewide business application that addresses all aspects related to modern business and manufacturing process management. Q&MIS allows users to integrate audits, calibration management, document control issues, supplier quality management, preventive maintenance operations, internal process control and training processes into one comprehensive process.

 Q&MIS comprises several integrated, yet completely independent software modules and their corresponding Web components. Each module is a multiplatform, open database system that can be tailored to the specific operational requirements of medium and large organizations in the business, manufacturing, service and government sectors by integration with the customer's ERP/MRP system.

 The Q&MIS modules, numerous to say the least, include advanced quality planning audit/survey, audit trail, calibration system, compliance pack, document control, internal focus, mail agent, maintenance system, QFusion, Q&MIS utility, supplier focus and training system.


Finding the right solution

 Some day, one computer application will perform all of the functions any organization needs. (Indeed, some suites currently available are already approaching that kind of versatility.) But until that day arrives, companies can mix and match applications each designed to fill a particular need. Getting the most from these applications rests simply upon their interoperability.

 Before looking into the ever-widening field of enterprisewide solutions, know your needs. Are you looking for SPC software, document control solutions, a supply-chain management application, or more?

 Next, determine which of your company's existing software will need to be compatible with new applications. Find out what kind of networking environment your organization hosts. Think about the customizability of the software you're considering: Are regular updates/upgrades offered? Does its functionality allow room for growth? Is it server/client- or Web-based or both? Will it support multiple sites? Can it be used to share information with customers and/or suppliers?

 Finally, consult your Information Technology department before any purchase. And ask each software provider plenty of questions. Most even offer free demo versions, some of which are even available online.

 It would be difficult to overstate the impact the computer technology has made--and will make yet--on our lives, let alone on business. The Internet, too, has made previously daunting tasks (e.g., the accurate and complete communication of vital data within a large corporation) both efficient and simple. As the market widens and your company grows, your organization's technical capabilities will likely become a critical factor in your ability to compete. Although it's certainly not impossible to remain solvent using traditional methods, it may mean your employees have to work twice as hard. Enterprisewide solutions can accomplish the same tasks--and more--with greater accuracy and efficiency and a lot less hassle.


About the author

 Robert Green is Quality Digest's news editor. If you have any comments about this article, please e-mail them to contact_us.

Enterprisewide Software Glossary

 DBMS--Abbreviation of "database management system." A DBMS is a collection of programs that enables users to store, modify and extract information from a database. There are many different types of DBMSs, ranging from small systems that run on personal computers to huge systems that run on mainframes. From a technical standpoint, DBMSs can differ widely. The terms relational, network, flat and hierarchical all refer to the way a DBMS organizes information internally. The internal organization can affect how quickly and flexibly you can extract information.

ERP--Abbreviation of "enterprise resource planning." ERP is a business management system that integrates all facets of the business, including planning, manufacturing, sales and marketing. As the ERP methodology has become more popular, software applications have emerged to help business managers implement ERP.

Legacy application--Software in which a company or organization has already invested considerable time and money. Typically, legacy applications are database management systems running on mainframes or minicomputers. An important feature of new software products is the ability to work with a company's legacy applications, or at least be able to import data from them.

MRP--Abbreviation of "material resource planning." MRP is a system for effectively managing material requirements in a manufacturing process; a set of techniques that uses bill of material data, inventory data, and the master production schedule to calculate requirements for materials. It makes recommendations to release replenishment orders for materials.

 MRP is also used, though less commonly, as an abbreviation of "Manufacturer Resource Planning." In this usage, MRP is a system based on material resource planning, which allows manufacturers to optimize materials, procurement, manufacturing processes, and so on, and provide financial and planning reports.

ODBC-- Abbreviation of "open database connectivity." ODBC is a standard database access method developed by Microsoft Corp. The goal of ODBC is to make it possible to access any data from any application, regardless of which database management system is handling the data. ODBC manages this by inserting a middle layer, called a database driver, between an application and the DBMS. The purpose of this layer is to translate the application's data queries into commands that the DBMS understands. For this to work, both the application and the DBMS must be ODBC-compliant.

OLAP--Abbreviation of "online analytical processing." OLAP is a category of software tools that provides analysis of data stored in a database. OLAP tools enable users to analyze different dimensions of multidimensional data. For example, it provides time series and trend analysis views. The chief component of OLAP is the OLAP server, which sits between a client and a database management system. The OLAP server understands how data is organized in the database and has special functions for analyzing the data. There are OLAP servers available for nearly all the major database systems.

OLE--Abbreviation of "object linking and embedding." OLE is a compound document standard developed by Microsoft Corp. that enables users to create objects with one application and then link or embed them in a second application. Embedded objects retain their original format and links to the application that created them. Support for OLE is built into the Windows and Macintosh operating systems. A competing compound document standard developed jointly by IBM, Apple Computer, and other computer firms is called OpenDoc.

Server--A computer or device on a network that manages network resources. For example, a file server is a computer and storage device dedicated to storing files. A database server is a computer system that processes database queries. Servers are often dedicated, meaning that they perform no other tasks besides their server tasks. On multiprocessing operating systems, however, a single computer can execute several programs at once. A server in this case could refer to the program that is managing resources rather than the entire computer.

SQL-- Abbreviation of "structured query language." SQL is a standardized query language for requesting information from a database. Historically, SQL has been the favorite query language for database management systems running on minicomputers and mainframes. Increasingly, however, SQL is being supported by PC database systems because it supports distributed databases (those that are spread out over several computer systems). This enables several users on a local-area network to access the same database simultaneously.



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