If your organization is ready to start shopping for an eQMS, you’ve probably realized just how many options are out there. You have to remember, though, that no two eQMSs are alike and you must discover what differentiates them before choosing one and signing a contract.
In this blog, I sat down with Karen Arrivillaga, Qualtrax Account Executive, to get her opinion on what’s most important for organizations to consider. She came up with 5 essential things to consider. This blog is also available in video format. You can click on any of the subheadings below to access the clip on YouTube. You can also access the entire playlist here.
First, let’s take a step back and think about some of those fundamental quality principles. For example, we know with quality, there’s a cycle of; creating a process, monitoring that process, thinking of ways to improve that process, and then implementing changes. So, there’s a cycle of continuous improvement that’s constantly happening. Make sure your eQMS supports this kind of change and doesn’t lock you into a solution that isn’t going to allow adjustments to your processes. Changing software is hard! It takes a lot of time to change and convert things. When you’re choosing a system, look for a system you can stick with long-term.
From her experience talking with seasoned quality professionals over the past few years, she says that quality experts prefer systems that they can configure themselves. Why? Because they can take the unique processes they created for their organizations and build them within the eQMS. No two organizations are the same so the software shouldn’t restrict you to follow one process they have in place (think: internal audits, corrective actions, etc). Instead, the eQMS needs to promote your organization’s unique processes and needs.
On top of that, “configurability” is a major buzzword in the industry right now and two organizations may not mean the same thing when they tell you that their system is configurable. It’s really important for you, as a consumer, to dive in and figure out those details. When you’re looking for an eQMS, ask questions like; “Can I configure the process/workflows?”, “Can I create my own processes and workflows?”, “Do you have advanced field settings?”, “Can I have email configurability so I have control over that communication?”.
When you’re comparing vendors, it’s really easy to look at a list of features and assume that all features are the same between two vendors. According to Karen, that’s never the case. Your job as the consumer is to dig into the details further and see what those differences are and decide which would be the best for your organization. Let’s take document management as an example. Document management is a very common feature among eQMS vendors. Sometimes, however, “document management” in one eQMS can just be a document repository that is still going to require tons of manual work from you and your team. Automation is the same. Ask for details on what they mean by automation.
East of use seems like an obvious idea because everyone wants the software they implement to be easy to use. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to see the ease of use while watching a demo of the software. Make sure that the eQMS looks intuitive. Make sure that, as an administrator of the system, you can create role-based actions or even limit what people can see in the system. You want your staff to be able to enter the system, see what’s important to them, take action on those items, and log out and continue with their day. Don’t add extra stress and clutter to your staff’s life.
Another thing to note from an auditor’s perspective: how easy is it to report on records or data that an auditor is requesting? Ask if searches are indexed and if you can search by keywords. This is important when it comes time for an audit.
If the vendor you’re considering doesn’t invest in their customers’ success via the product or support, then you’re not going to have a positive experience. Do your research! Ask questions like; “What is your company’s customer retention rate?” and “What is your customer satisfaction score?”. These are common things that SaaS companies are tracking. Look at testimonials online and even ask to speak to a current customer! You are allowed to do this and it can make a huge difference in deciding on an eQMS.
You also need to ask about the details of the onboarding and what success rates look like for this process. Ask if they offer support and where their team is located. You should also look into how the company is continually improving its product. Ask if there is an engineering team creating new updates and releases for the customers and ask if there is a cost associated with them.