A Simple Solution for Complex Organizations
In our conversations with IT Executives within the Quality Management space, leaders want quick returns on their investments that complement and streamline their current IT initiatives and empower their team to operate and scale according to their department’s specific goals. Tools and applications that complement their enterprise quality system’s operations make room for IT managers and their teams to focus on core competencies and move the needle on transformation projects rather than utilizing resources to manually maintain tasks related to their current applications. They want to further accelerate their quality ecosystem by adding flexibility and responsiveness on top of their existing enterprise Quality Management tools.
Here’s the problem: most off-the-shelf solutions don’t come with the customization that complex organizations need. In this series of posts, we focus on some of the products and solutions that we’ve seen complement current established Quality Systems by streamlining their administration and day-to-day maintenance. This one specifically delves into tools that enhance the management of data and selection lists in a seamless, error-free manner.
Managing Selection Values
Traditionally, part of managing selection values or quality management system ‘drop down lists’ includes a lot of list administration. Since selection values for QMS fields can range from a few “Yes or No” values to over hundreds of thousands with multiple layers of dependencies, manually managing them in enterprise applications or in an admin-owned spreadsheet can quickly become a cumbersome task. Automating the administration process and making it accessible via a user-friendly web interface allows IT admins to focus on other business needs. Instead of waiting for changes to be requested by the business, then to update the lists, and deploy the new values, a selection value management tool would be a good fit for syncing the changes and making updates seamlessly across the board.
Here’s another pain point: As the system matures, it’s challenging to track the history of changes and updates made at the selection list’s value level. Without digging up documentation to understand how the value got into the system, by whom, and when. Critical audit trail history is sometimes not easily found.
Approving Selection Lists
For regulated industries with inherent risk involved, administrators must follow stringent rules, and often must wait for approvals before updates can occur. For some companies, migrations of look-up lists or drop-down values can happen on a weekly basis, leaving your system without the real-time data it needs.
To avoid waiting on submissions, approvals and migrations, admins may choose to configure external lists so that values become more readily available. However, configuring these ‘external’ fields can sabotage the integrity and conformity of values. Values may come from several different systems, sometimes with “same but different” data (misspellings, abbreviations, etc.). With real-time management using a web-based solution, it’s much easier to track submission and approvals, manage dependency trees, and search and filter values of lists.
Minimize System Down Time
When implementing changes in quality systems, IT teams are often scrambling to minimize system downtime. Typically, changes will be made off-hours. However, this isn’t always a sustainable approach or an efficient practice. For changes that need to happen quickly for new products or devices, a strong selection management tool allows the implementation of changes while your applications stay up and running, and over a significantly shorter period than before. No downtime or system outages translates to uninterrupted processes, and business practices that have integrity. IT can promote the selection lists from a development environment into a live production system as quickly as they can validate, eliminating the need to wait for any sort of outage window.
Master Data Management
Besides quick turnaround for implementing changes, a unified tool for managing selection lists also allows for maintaining the data coming in from different systems. Often, our Quality Management systems access and rely on data from our ERP systems, LIMS systems, and other enterprise platforms. What’s critical is to allow for an application or tool to centralize the data in one place, but remain accessible from anywhere. Values from different master data repositories that hold selection values can be validated in one place and be trusted as accurate. They can be accessed by anyone on the team given permission to do so, without having to be downloaded onto individual machines.
The digital transformation has opened the door for many innovations and efficiencies within the Quality Ecosystem. Data management tools that empower users are prime examples of where it’s possible for Executives, IT managers and their teams to work smarter with their data. Relevant, timely and accurate selection data is critical for any enterprise today because it fuels intelligent, accurate, and timely tracking of quality processes while encouraging proactive management of your quality and compliance initiatives as well as your department’s operational efficiency.