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5 Things Every Quality Manager Needs to Know

Utilities throughout North America are realizing the compliance benefits of owning a Compliance Management System (CMS). Industries facing standards and regulations can better serve their customer base, gain significant efficiency, and decrease compliance costs simply by having a CMS.

Some utilities are looking only for a document management system to formalize and record their document revision procedure. Others want workflow solutions to automate business processes. Both of these solutions are part of a CMS solution.

Right now, utilities of all shapes and sizes are in the process of selecting a Compliance Management System, and they need help to prepare for that process to maximize the value for their purchase.

How can you best prepare to purchase and implement a Compliance Management System and make it useful for your organization?

Those who have already purchased and implemented a CMS can provide invaluable advice if you are just starting the process.

Jim Todaro, Quality Assurance Manager at Alpha Analytical, Inc., recently completed the implementation of a Compliance Management System with Qualtrax, Inc.

“We are a lean organization — constantly trying to improve on our processes while cutting away the waste,” explains Todaro. “That’s what drives us to improve our quality each and every day.”

He provides the following guidelines to best help you implement your own CMS:

  1. Select a team of qualified participants to guide the selection and implementation process. Ideally, this core team includes senior managers from Compliance, IT, Operations, Corporate Security and other associated departments. This group leads the requirements gathering, vendor selection, and implementation (including training). To be successful, “involve the key people up front,” says Todaro.
  2. Visit an existing site for an in-person demo of the CMS. Contact the CMS vendor directly to ask about visiting a location near you. Seeing a system in a real-life environment helped Todaro and his team determine exactly what they were looking for.
  3. Answer some key questions. Knowing the answers to these questions will control expectations, both from the members of your team and your organization as a whole:
    • What is the main objective you want to accomplish with your CMS? CMS solutions often offer a wide variety of benefits for utilities. Taking advantage of all of the benefits from the start may not be what the organization can handle. Identify the critical measures of success for the project, i.e. the first year milestones to be accomplished.
    • When do you want to implement the CMS? Nail down a timeline with your team.
    • Who are key players and what are their roles? Define the roles and responsibilities your core team members will play. A system owned by everyone is owned by no one. Define system ownership and decision-making boundaries for employees managing the system.
    • What are the logical groups that your employees will be members of? Keep in mind that you already have groups associated with your current procedures. If you are not sure how to set this up, follow your current organizational chart to group employees.
    • What will you do with your current documents? You can best prepare for your new document control process by having every document in an approved state and refraining from editing those documents until after implementation.
  4. Take advantage of the training provided by the CMS vendor. Often, organizations think of training as a
    last step. Instead, view this as the first step toward really using the software. Devote both time and resources. This clearly shows your staff that the organization is fully behind the CMS you have selected.
    In addition to training, you can ask the CMS vendor if there are demo versions of their software available for your use. Demo versions give you a place to generally acquaint yourself with the CMS and test scenarios that you might not want to test in a production system.
  5. Plan. And then plan some more. The more work you do up front translates into an easier implementation. Set milestones for your team. Don’t make the mistake of only planning up to the initial implementation. Determine the steps you want to take after the system is installed by developing a Transition Plan. Follow these steps to help you fully transition to your CMS:

Suggested Milestones

  • Identify the members of your core team
  • Specify your organization’s needs and prioritize them
  • Select your top three CMS solutions
  • Visit sites
  • Make the final CMS selection
  • Prepare for implementation
  • Implement CMS (installation, training)
  • Begin Transition Plan
  • Evaluate the CMS and your process after the implementation
    • Does the EMS satisfy your original needs?
    • What still needs to be done to complete your Transition Plan?
  • Complete transition and stop using legacy system.

Jim Todaro used these guidelines to successfully purchase and implement the Qualtrax CMS for Alpha Analytical. He helped to revolutionize the compliance management process for his organization. He learned that being well prepared before implementing a CMS is the key to success.

What is keeping you from selecting a Compliance Management System?

Implementing a Compliance Management System can be daunting and requires a substantial amount of work. But with the proper planning, you can get the CMS that meets your utility needs.

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