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QMX 4.6.3
by ABS InfoLink Inc.

System Requirements: Lotus Notes 4.6 or higher running on a Pentium II or better PC; Windows 95, 98 or NT; 128 MB RAM recommended; 112 MB free disk space recommended. A separate server running Lotus Domino is also required.

Price: Starts at $18,000

Contact: ABS InfoLink Inc.
152 N. Third St., Suite 701
San Jose, CA 95112
Telephone: (408) 918-5200
Fax: (408) 918-5295

Foolproof ISO 9000 Documentation
QMX 4.6.3

by Dirk Dusharme

QMX by ABS InfoLink is a comprehensive document control/tracking software system specifically tailored for companies pursuing ISO 9000 registration. The Lotus Notes-based application can include modules that cover all 20 elements of ISO 9001. Although geared toward ISO 9000, this highly configurable package adapts well to most document control applications. For this review, we concentrated on the document control and corrective action modules.

 The key to QMX's functionality is the predefined templates for each form type (procedures, corrective action reports, etc.) working in conjunction with the database and messaging capabilities of Lotus Notes and the Lotus Domino server.

 To create a document, the user opens Document Library Control, selects Create New Document and enters the document name, type, author and other information into the predefined template. Many selections are made from user-defined drop-down menus, and document numbering may be manual or automatic. Document reviewers, approvers and distribution recipients are automatically filled in by QMX, depending on the document type.

 Documents may be typed directly into QMX or attached to the form. Document editing functions are extensive and include all the usual text-formatting tools and graphic insertion capabilities. QMX also includes a built-in spell-checker. If you attach a document, the Create New Document form functions as a traveler for the document, allowing users to track document histories and revisions even for documents created outside of QMX (e.g., CAD drawings or Excel spreadsheets).

 Once the document has been created (or attached), one mouse-click starts the review process. All people on the review list are automatically alerted by Lotus e-mail that they have a document to review. Routing may be handled serially or in parallel.

 The approval process works in the same way. Document types can be configured to require 100-percent approval before a document is released, or the author can override the approval process. Following approval, QMX can automatically notify all recipients on the distribution list that a new or revised document has been released.

 When revising a document, the revision's author first checks a released document out of the document library. QMX makes a copy of the released document, leaving the most up-to-date revision in the library. Once the new version has been approved, it automatically replaces the old one in the document library.

 A key QMX feature is the corrective action module, which is designed to meet ISO 9000's requirements. The originator fills out a corrective action request (CAR) and manually routes it to the person (a supervisor, for instance) responsible for assigning the problem. That supervisor identifies a solution owner, whom QMX notifies. The solution owner works his or her way through each section of the corrective action form--describing the immediate action, root-cause investigation, implementation of corrective action, the owner's solution verification and independent verification--and notifies QMX as each step is completed. QMX tracks the status of the CAR through the entire process.

 The beauty of QMX's CAR process is that CARs can be tied to specific documents (e.g., procedures), giving full traceablity of a problem, its resolution, the solution owner and all affected documents. QMX shows the cross-reference between documents and CARs in each of those forms. Complete history logs with date stamps provide an invaluable trail that should make your ISO 9000 auditor drool.

 QMX features that we particularly liked were the abilities to easily view the status of any document or CAR, set timed e-mail reminders (to nudge those who haven't done their job yet), reference other documents from within a document and configure QMX to specific needs--there's no cookie cutter approach here. A future release of QMX will be Web-enabled, further expanding the availability of QMX features.

 Despite QMX's many praiseworthy features, we do have a couple of complaints. The terse e-mail notifications, which, in most cases, simply state that your attention to a document is needed, requires the user to open the mail and link to the work-flow document just to find out what work is pending. We wish the e-mails were more explicit.

 We'd also like to see a warning appear when revisions are being made to a document that is itself referenced by another document. This is particularly important when references are several levels deep.

 QMX is an excellent, robust, high-end package. The price is steep, but given its extensive functionality, excellent onsite training, documentation and tech support, this package deserves to be considered by companies that can afford a full-blown ISO 9000 package.

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