Quality Management Software
Hi Everyone,

I work for a company that manufactures A/V equipment and I'm looking for QMS software that can help out the Incoming Quality Control department, specifically with inspections and material management. I was wondering if anyone has a recommendation or advice, good or bad. I have evaluated around 30 software packages, but I don't come from a traditional quality background and could use any advice that someone wants to share!

Thanks!

Mitchell
11 Replies
In my company, a small engineering company, we found after looking at all the commercial applications and the software we already used for material management, supplier management, etc. that it was cheaper and quicker to just design our own Quality Software, integrated into a SQL database on our SharePoint Portal.

We laid out the requirements. Did a buy, build, or reuse analysis. And came up with the best option was to build our own. All the commercial applications just had too many things that they did, that we were either not interested in, or our other software tools could already do.

Also, if this is going to be a major purchase for your organization, I would check to see if there is a Gartner's Magic Square for what you are looking for. If you have never heard of Gartner, talk with your IT department. They may have an account already established.
I'm doing the same thing for our company with a small access database. It will track and store everything I need to keep records for our ISO17025 accreditation and work flows. Just takes longer to develop and use than an out of the box software but for a small lab it's the most economical option and gives exactly what we need without the fluff.
Meta Brown
8 Posts
Edmond Frost‍ and Matthew Caskey‍ Gentlemen,

When your organizations build software in-house, how do you validate it? Have you got a QA team to test the software?
With respect to testing, we do the standard, accepted software testing. In this case, since it was a simpler design, that is, using a standard SQL data base and developing a front end with a workflow built, in all we did was develop several use cases and tested that the software met those. And all the use cases were designed to test the requirements.
And once the tool, had been tested, by Quality, access to a beta version was given to several typical end users, in our case, program mangers, and project managers, and engineers who had some very good suggestions to implement before opening to the entire company for use.
Mitchell,

What some people leave out when they do an internal analysis of make or buy with a QMS is long-term support and viability. With that consider who might be maintaining the software in 1, 2, 5 or even 10 years; and, how coding may change over that period along with who might have to support that end as well.
Typically, it looks very advantageous from the outset to develop your own internal QMS software set because it will fit you exact wants and desires perfectly; however, this long-term maintenance concept is left out and it becomes the downfall of the system. In the end it falls upon disrepair and lacks functionality. So, what you might save on the front end could cost you in the long run. I am not saying don't do it, just be cautious.

B/R,

Frank
As an organization of only 15 people we do not have the resources that other companies may have for these activities. When we build databases such as this it is mainly to house and track QMS documentation and instrument calibration information. For testing I've just done as much as I can myself then roll it out to the team and they inform me if they've found an issue. Not the best methodology but you do what you can, with what you have, and try to plan for the best results while understanding that the risk is never zero.
I'm not in a manufacturing company, but a chemistry lab. We use Qualtrax to control our documents and to create workflows for our processes. It has a few quirks, like any software but they are minor. You can create a workflow for anything with any fields, etc. It's much easier than creating a SQL/Access Database as you don't have to control the backend of it by creating tables, relationships and all. It can be hosted on your servers or theirs. If you decide to do it yourself, go SQL for the database and use Access for the front end and make sure you know how to use Access/SQL as there is nothing worse than using a database that was created by someone who treats Access as a fancy Excel Spreadsheet.

Qualtrax's support is excellent and ready to answer your questions which is the biggest thing to look for when you are looking for software.

Christy
I know that this comes late in the process but, if you have not finalized your decision I would suggest that, if you have someone in your organization who is moderately handy using a universally popular spreadsheet application, it is not terribly difficult to create a database application to accumulate, track and report inspection data and report this data to any reporting format including inventory accounts. I have used such applications in the past to create multi-user inputs, inspection status and the like and flag anomalies to the appropriate parties in the organizations as well as develop custom reports as required.

No disrespect intended to any commercial SW applications as I am sure that these have been well thought out, thoroughly vetted and field proven. But my affection for the spreadsheet approach lies in the fact that having created the app in-house we know what goes on behind the curtain and if any changes are desired these can be effected in short time frame and at minimum expense!
Part of the reason that we looked at new software was that the software we were using, from a major player, required us to switch from what they had been selling to what they were currently selling. The system we had was less then ten years old and the essentially stopped providing support for it. Oh, we paid for a maintenance contract. But there were no patches, no upgrades. There was a tech available to help us if there were problems. And our system administrator learned over the years enough that we never called upon that tech support. One of our biggest issues with that software was that it could only be used via Internet Explorer, and if you had IE 10, you had to set it for compatibility mode with older versions. What they were going to and wanted us to shift to, for a price of course, was to go to their new cloud based system.

The QMS software we had prior to that had been bought out by another company and they wanted us to buy their then current version, with an offer of "free" transfer of current data to the new version.

Part of our build our own decision, was that we have the skills to do this. Not ever company does. With our own built to need software we have in-house maintenance and tech support. Will the people who built it still be working for us ten years from now? Who knows. But there will be someone assigned to support it. Just as in a purchased software.
Mitchell,

I know I may be late to the conversation here, but after performing some analysis on what we have been looking for (Incoming Inspection, Non-Conformance Control, Asset Calibration Tracking, etc.) I came across a company called 1factory. They have all the tools we were looking for when it comes to Quality Inspection and Control and I highly recommend this company as their support team has been absolutely phenomenal. They were very active in helping me understand their system and see what types of customization they can do. Give them a call!

1factory

Thanks,

Colter
Hi,

I love TrackWise and it's the gold standard. I've recently heard of ZenQMS and am attending a demo Friday after hearing good things.

Diane