Moving to a Paperless Electronic Documentation System - Seeking Ideas

M

Marla Diaz

#1
We have been certified for six (6) years now (9002 to 9001 version) and todate, we still have our documentation on paper. I would like to sell the idea of a paperless system to our management.

I'd like to get some ideas on how I could present it to our management. Do I have to make a study on what the advantages are to the company? Or maybe also to me, being the lead audit and document custodian at the same time? Would it take much time of our IT to me in setting up this system? What softwares would your recommend for us to use?

Apprreciate your help on this.

Thanks,
Marla (Kel)
 
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Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#2
May we inquire "WHY" you want to convert to paperless documentation?

Do you have lots and lots of paper? Hundreds of different forms? Frequent revisions? Multiple locations of personnel and/or production facilities? Require frequent collaboration on documents with suppliers and customers?

If so, the dollar savings in personnel and storage space would be tremendous. The soft cost benefit is that you can buy software which will automatically "push" revisions of controlled documents to all pertinent parties, assuring no one ever uses an obsolete document, thereby manufacturing an obsolete component. During the process of creation or revision, you can automatically notify via email (or even cell phone or pager) each person in the approval chain as soon as the previous person in the chain has added his authorization.

There is a capital expenditure to ensure everyone has software loaded on his machine, but that is offset by the built-in security which prevents unauthorized personnel from deleting or modifying a document. You can even have an audit trail of everyone who accesses a document and whether they made modifications.

A tremendous benefit of some software is the ability to view documents without having the resident software that created the document. So folks can read drawings even when they don't have drafting software.

Recommending specific brands of software without knowing more about your company and its needs would be counterproductive. You are not at that stage yet, anyway. You need to alert some of the bosses to the general benefits before you spend time or money looking at specific software.
 
M

Marla Diaz

#3
I'm not really sure if we have that much documentation compared to other companies. We have at least 40 procedures, 30 work instructions, 70 forms, 16 references, a quality manual and the job descriptions manual. All these belong to 9 different departments / copyholders.

But with the plan of centralizing our QMS with our branch office and another sister company, I guess this would really be of much help. These companies have about the same number of documentation like us. We have separate Quality Management Representative, Document and data control, Lead Auditor and team. Surveillance audit of the certifying body is done to each of the units and we have our own separate certificates.

Maybe we can maintain one manual for the general process functions which is more or less the same throughout the companies and only the operational procedures would be different and shall be distributed to concerned department/company.

Still have to check though with our certifying body is this is acceptable.

Thanks!
 

Peter Fraser

Trusted Information Resource
#4
Marla Diaz said:
We have been certified for six (6) years now (9002 to 9001 version) and todate, we still have our documentation on paper. I would like to sell the idea of a paperless system to our management.

I'd like to get some ideas on how I could present it to our management. Do I have to make a study on what the advantages are to the company? Or maybe also to me, being the lead audit and document custodian at the same time? Would it take much time of our IT to me in setting up this system? What softwares would your recommend for us to use?

Apprreciate your help on this.

Thanks,
Marla (Kel)
Marla

Some basic questions first. Who is your system for? By that I mean: who uses it, who gets benefit from it, how easily can they find what they want from it? Does it help your people to understand how the business operates and how their work affects others, is it used for induction and training of staff? And is it easy to update? Or is it "just" to satisfy the external assessor?

If your people can all access your IT network or Intranet, you can publish your management system as a structured set of process descriptions (preferably as deployment flowcharts) along with a document register, and set up links to your procedures, work instructions and forms where they are needed. This makes it very easy for users to find exactly the information they need at any time. They will know that the electronic system is always the current version, and you will have no paper copies to update and distribute.

We encourage people to define their "management system" rather than just their "quality system". If you concentrate on defining how the business is run rather than on complying with ISO9K, you can accommodate external standards more easily. And this often also helps management to align the business plan with the management system by concentrating on objectives and how they are met.
 
M

Marla Diaz

#6
Peter,

Re your basic questions...

The system is for us (employees) and we are the ones who benefit from it. If a staff needs to read a procedure or work instruction, then he/she would have to go their department manager who keeps a controlled copy. Yes, it is used for induction and training. I do all the revisions/updating using Word. No, this is not to satisfy the external auditors.

2nd paragraph of your post is a very good reason to go paperless.


Claes,

Ok, I'll take a look at the previous posts re paperless documentation.

Thanks a lot,
Marla
 

Peter Fraser

Trusted Information Resource
#7
Marla Diaz said:
Peter,

Re your basic questions...

The system is for us (employees) and we are the ones who benefit from it. If a staff needs to read a procedure or work instruction, then he/she would have to go their department manager who keeps a controlled copy. Yes, it is used for induction and training. I do all the revisions/updating using Word. No, this is not to satisfy the external auditors.

2nd paragraph of your post is a very good reason to go paperless.

Thanks a lot,
Marla
Marla

Glad to hear that the system is for you and not for the assessor!

The structure of your on-line system is worth thinking about. The need for a separate "quality manual" should disappear - I don't understand why the standard mentions it in the first place! We use a small number of top-level process groups ("the key steps to achieve your business objectives") as a top level index, with individual processes within each. You can then link to other processes and to supporting documentation. Our Document Register is indexed by logical top level groups too. The aim has to be to make it easy for staff to find what they want.

You will still need IT housekeeping disciplines to ensure that the "authorised" version of a document is published, and there will be times when a paper copy is needed. It is sometimes best to say that anything printed is "uncontrolled".

Re Wes Bucey's post: you can get software which will publish your system as a set of HTML files, so all staff can access it using a web browser - so no need for extra software on each PC, just for you to maintain the system.
 

Cari Spears

Super Moderator
Staff member
Super Moderator
#8
Peter Fraser said:
...We encourage people to define their "management system" rather than just their "quality system". If you concentrate on defining how the business is run rather than on complying with ISO9K, you can accommodate external standards more easily. And this often also helps management to align the business plan with the management system by concentrating on objectives and how they are met.
Very well said, good points!
 
R

Randy Stewart

#9
You will still need IT housekeeping disciplines to ensure that the "authorised" version of a document is published, and there will be times when a paper copy is needed. It is sometimes best to say that anything printed is "uncontrolled".
I would like to add one more thought to what Peter has posted. Not only is IT assistance in maintenance helpful, but you can reap great benefits in getting their input in the structuring of the system. If you are looking at an "intranet" in the future they can help with software that is easily adaptable to HTML (Access, Excel, etc.) so that you can start on the network and still be able to move and translate your work into HTML.
We worked with our IT people to map out what our documentation system would look like using what they do to map out a network.
 
E

energy

#10
Half and half

As you are trying to convince Mgt to go "Paperless", will there additional purchases of terminals required to reach those that currently use paper? Will they be receptive to using a computer, rather than consult their "book"? While going paperless was fun for me, I encountered resistance when I tried to introduce it to the shop floor. "I don't want these guys playing around on the computer when they should be working". Or, "These guys cannot or will not use the computer". How much disruption or confusion will be tolerated with the switchover? These are the things that Management are concerned about. You know, the old "If it ain't broke. don't fix it." Just make sure it is worth it and not an attempt to look more efficient. Just another viewpoint. :agree:
 
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