By Tom Borak on October 15, 2019
Process automation using an eQMS puts guardrails around your existing process path to ensure that shortcuts are eliminated, all requisite steps are taken in the correct order, and each step is documented accordingly.
At Qualtrax, we call this method of process automation a workflow.
With our powerful workflow tool, organizations can take nearly any existing, paper-based task and incorporate it into an automated solution. The unique configurability of our workflow tool allows you absolute control of how your processes are organized, creating consistency across your team and increasing efficiency by eliminating the need to keep track of who has which document, who still needs to sign it, and where it’s getting hung up in the process. The system will even send automated email reminders to individuals when it is their turn to take action.
In a workflow, the key steps of a process are mapped out and locked into place. Each element of that process is assigned to the responsible party by your system administrator, so as soon as one person completes his or her portion of the task, it is automatically routed to the next person in the process. Each individual is automatically notified by email when it is their turn to take action. The workflow cascades from one person to the next until the entire process is complete. Approvals can be incorporated at any step, ensuring that the process is not simply completed, but completed in the proper manner before the process is advanced.
At the same time, the system documents every action taken, keeping exact records so you don’t have to, while ensuring that you’re always audit ready.
We realize that all organizations are unique. While many companies may follow similar paths to an outcome, nobody does it exactly the way you do. The flexibility of our system is an acknowledgment of this fact. Qualtrax allows you to shape your workflow around your existing process rather than forcing you to modify your process to fit the rigid constraints of an uneditable and inflexible workflow.
While the system does come pre-populated with a suite of Best-in-Class workflows, including Internal Audits, Risk Assessment and Corrective Action among others, which are ready to be deployed right out of the box, they are also flexible, which means you can rearrange tasks and add or remove steps in the process to tailor it specifically to the needs of your organization. Qualtrax also gives you the freedom to build your own workflows from scratch. Our unique workflow builder provides a blank canvas for you to automate any paper-based process in your organization.
Using the tool is simple. The workflow builder uses a drag-and-drop utility that allows you to visualize exactly what you’re building, so you can see how the process will unfold and ensure that every action is incorporated correctly in your model. Once the model is complete, you will determine what information you need to collect at each step, which can be captured with a drop-down menu of choices, a text box for more thorough or specific feedback, custom fields defined by your team, and even the option to attach supplemental documentation. You will then assign users or user groups to each step of the process so the workflow can cascade from user to user as the steps in the process are completed.
Qualtrax users have noted significant reductions in their process timelines with the incorporation of workflows. The amount of time and hassle eliminated by incorporating process automation through workflows has created some extra breathing room for quality personnel to tend to the intense demands of their day-to-day operations as well as generating significant ROI in dollars saved.
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The greatest benefit of process automation as it relates to compliance is that it virtually eliminates the possibility of user error. As you build your workflow and define the order and responsibilities assigned at each step, you are establishing a set path that will be followed each time the workflow is initiated.
Imagine a bobsled run. Once you jump into that sled, you’re getting to the bottom of the mountain one way or another. You can’t stop at turn four and decide you’re finished or want to go in a different direction. The workflow operates in the same way – it won’t let you leave the track until the process comes to its predefined conclusion.
This consistency ensures that employees follow the required steps and do not take shortcuts that could lead to nonconformities. Additionally, the workflow is noting which individual takes any given action, so people are more likely to focus and give their best effort knowing their name will be attached to it.
Process automation is valuable, but the ability to see the big picture and report on the process is just as critical to your compliance. The Qualtrax workflow tool integrates seamlessly with our reporting function, allowing your system administrator to build custom reports to share with leadership and auditors as needed. All of your workflows, past and current, are searchable and reportable, ensuring that your team is always audit ready and able to respond to surprise requests from your leadership team without significantly affecting your work day.
Great question! Again, the flexibility of the Qualtrax platform really allows your imagination to run wild. Of course there are traditional, quality-based processes that can be automated to make your life easier. Our suite of Best-in-Class workflows embraces the spirit of quality and compliance with tools to manage corrective actions, internal audits, risk assessments, instrument performance verification & maintenance, vendor approvals and customer complaints to name a few.
Our more industrious customers have used the system for everything from HR tasks like employee onboarding and tracking PTO requests to more systematic processes like bringing new products into production faster or streamlining the return process for customers. The possibilities are literally endless with the flexibility of the Qualtrax workflow engine.
Process automation is an innovative way to reclaim your work day and help your team accomplish more with fewer resources dedicated to paper-based systems. To learn more about process automation with Qualtrax, see a demo, or take it for a free test drive, give us a shout!
Categories: Process Management, Quality Managers, ROI, Uncategorized