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Author Topic:   Documentation Software
Kim
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From:Houston, TX
Registered: Mar 99

posted 04 May 1999 01:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kim   Click Here to Email Kim     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Good day to all!!

I recently received a CD from a company that makes software for procedure writing/tracking/review, and also for NCR/CA/PA tracking.
It looks like it would work very well, and claims to be able to bring us in compliance with ISO 9000/2000. It is, on the downside, quite expensive.

My question is this:
How many people out there are working with this type of software, and how well does it work. Also, which systems are you using (if we may). Cost is an issue, because we are a small company, and most of what we do is related to the currently depressed oil & gas market.

Thanks in advance!
Kim

(Patiently waiting for Marc & Kevin)

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Kevin Mader
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posted 04 May 1999 06:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kevin Mader   Click Here to Email Kevin Mader     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Kim,

Software is a good idea, especially if you do not have much time to explore the option of creating your own programs (files). I bought software in the past to do just that, buy some time. I have found since then that the software will be least effective as it is not Y2K compliant, but I have have replaced these shelf items with my own creations in Microsoft Access (sorry Marc). The software I had before worked with old Access drivers built into the software provider's tailored format, which I found to be too limiting. But it did serve its purpose. The problem I found is that it isn't easily adaptable to the way your system may be working and as such, may make you rewrite the program that may cause you other issues. You should consider this while previewing (most companies allow you to preview the software before purchasing it) as it will help you to make a better decision. Hope this helps a bit.

Regards,

Kevin

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Kim
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From:Houston, TX
Registered: Mar 99

posted 04 May 1999 07:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kim   Click Here to Email Kim     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Kevin,

We already have procedures and what not in place, but they are all done through MS Word and revisions can get rather messy. The whole point (to me) of getting the software would be to automate the revision tracking and the review process. The same would apply to the NCR/CA/PA process.

Understand that I would be the one writing/revising all the documents, and then having to deal with waiting for all the other entities to review/edit whichever areas they felt necessary. I already have one document out in the process, and it's been out there for over 4 months. Not the most efficient process in the world.

Also, the software would allow for task assigning and all the rest, while allowing us to attain compliance with ISO 9000/2000.

If there was other software out there that could do the same, without being quite so expensive, I might be able to talk these folks into it.


Anyone else?


Kim

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barb butrym
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posted 05 May 1999 08:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for barb butrym   Click Here to Email barb butrym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
what rev of word?
Office 97, and prior versions as well actually.. have revision control in them. It's in the tool menu.... I find that, with Access, to be more than enough...me too, Kevin, sorry Marc. I typically set up email review and electronic sign off. One stroke of the key board and you have your record, distribution and notifications.

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Roger Eastin
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posted 05 May 1999 09:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Roger Eastin   Click Here to Email Roger Eastin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Before I would write or purchase any software, I would be sure that your system for review and approval is a good one. A computer program won't solve problems with a bad system. If the problem with your review and approval system is the fact that your reviewers and approvers aren't available to review and approve, a piece of software won't solve that. We learned that the hard way! Waiting months for review and approval is a system problem, not a software problem. Check that out first. If that is OK, then I agree with Kevin and Barb: write your own stuff. Chances are that you can customize it easier than using a canned package. Perhaps Kevin and Barb could send you their programs that you can use as a template in writing your own. We have been using Word and Excel for our electronic documents and this has worked out fine (for us).

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Kim
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posted 05 May 1999 12:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kim   Click Here to Email Kim     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow.....
I hate to say this, but y'all are not helping me in my crusade to get cool new software....

Does anyone else out there have the specialized stuff? Or maybe someone can point me to a place where I could find reviews of some software, other than SPC.
I just have a feeling that it would work for me...

Thanks for the input....

Kim

(MS Word 97)
And where is that Marc?

[This message has been edited by Kim (edited May 05, 1999).]

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Kevin Mader
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From:Seymour, CT USA
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posted 05 May 1999 12:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kevin Mader   Click Here to Email Kevin Mader     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Kim,

Need to spend the bosses money, ehh (hehehe)? Barb's point on the use of the 'compare revisions' in Word is a good one. I use that here since I do not keep an active log of changes as part of the document itself. It also helps in the update read (another topic) an may help in improving the review process. I too use the Email approach Barb spoke of, archive the responses, and back that file to our server ((the server is backed up nightly). As a personal preferrence, I record document changes in a section of my Document Control DB in Access (keeps the documents uncluttered IMO). Roger is right, I wouldn't mind sending you that file (provided you have Access). If you don't, then you might need to spend the bosses money regardless. Or, if time permits, you may want to create something in Word or Excel (things created in Excel can often be imported into Access should you have one now and get the second later). Email me if you are interested.

Regards,

Kevin

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Don Winton
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posted 05 May 1999 01:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Don Winton   Click Here to Email Don Winton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Personally, I do not use canned stuff at all. I like to taylor mine to the particular operation involved. Like those above, I write my own tracking stuff in Access (I have also written a HUGE Access application for our company to track and maintain customers. Pretty neat, if I do say so myself, HeHe).

BTW, clicking on the 'Custom' tab in Properties dialog box accessed under the File menu brings up a lot of good stuff for document status (revision, revised by, received by, etc). Check that out as well.

Regards,
Don

ps: BTW, I would be wary of software that offered ISO 9000/2000 compliance when the final version of the standard is still a yer and a half away. Just a thought.
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[This message has been edited by Don Winton (edited May 05, 1999).]

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Kevin Mader
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posted 05 May 1999 03:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kevin Mader   Click Here to Email Kevin Mader     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Don,

I would be interested to hear more about your Customer Tracking Access DB. I have something myself (in its infancy) but does a good job of measuring Off Quality/Customer Account Activity (RAs and the like). I'll post you when I get a chance.

Regards,

Kevin

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Kim
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From:Houston, TX
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posted 05 May 1999 04:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kim   Click Here to Email Kim     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hey folks!

I'm not familiar with MS Access, but we have it here and I'm checking it out. I'm not sure that it is what I'm looking for, but what the heck....

Keep the ideas coming!!

Kim

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Roger Eastin
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posted 05 May 1999 05:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Roger Eastin   Click Here to Email Roger Eastin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Kim - shoot if you want to spend money, check out Quality Progress, ActionLine(AIAG publication), Quality, or any other quality magazine. There are plenty of vendors for this type of thing. Better yet - look at Quality Progress' Software issue where it lists a BUNCH of vendors. You are still going to customize any canned software. You have to consider whether you want to spend the time customizing someone else's software or writing you own! My experience - there are no turnkey software applications for your application. But that's just my opinion...

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Kim
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From:Houston, TX
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posted 05 May 1999 06:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kim   Click Here to Email Kim     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
OK, I see this is getting me nowhere....

How about this:
I have received a CD from a company called SystemCorp. The software of (my) interest (there are two titles) is Office Control 9000 & Process Components 98.
Has anyone out there had any experience with either the company, or this particular software, or both? Or, is there anything out there that would do the same things, without having to play around with it too much?.
If it will help, I'll post a link to their web site. www.systemcorp.com

Other than that, I will check out some of those sources mentioned.

Thanks, and keep them ideas rolling!

Kim

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Marc Smith
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posted 05 May 1999 06:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Marc Smith   Click Here to Email Marc Smith     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Why is everyone saying "Sorry Marc"?

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Marc Smith
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posted 05 May 1999 07:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Marc Smith   Click Here to Email Marc Smith     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm here, Kim, but I don't work with any specific package - in fact I rarely work with documentation software other than as an asides. I've seen powerway and it's OK but it's limited in use. The thing with document control software is it depends more on your company intranet and capabilities than wants.

***DEAD LINK REMOVED ***. It's linked flow chart software (what you will see is a somewhat poor html output as compared to running the actual flow chart software.

Several of my past clients have had software written to interface thru notes using (as I remember) Domino as the database. Both had very nice interfaces - all linked and easy to use. But - custom written.

I'm not an Access fan - I have writtend control software in Foxbase and Filemaker Pro for clients. Not terribly elegant as compared to using Office as an integrated suite. Word has a revision feature (which 'can' play hell when you get into formatting) but it's not as easy to use over time as folks might have you believe (in my experience and I can cite a couple of horror stories), however if you know the suite and have reasonable control it's an option. My horror experiences were with multiple users editing documents who were 'very basic' msword people (as most are in reality) and where the documents had complex formatting. Users started 'hard formatting' documents in places when they couldn't get certain things to happen 'right' such as adding to or deleting from numbered lists and such. It was an unbelieveable mess.

The search index was screwed up but it should be right now. Do a search again and see where other software has been discussed ('all open forums' option).

Powerway was sold to a past client and after it was purchased they tried to install it - which was when the company found it did not have adequate RAM in 90% of the PCs (this was maybe 3 or 4 years ago), the intranet didn't have enough bandwidth and many PCs were a few years old and their processors could not handle it. And they had to cut and paste every legacy document into Powerway as the import function did not work as advertised. No refund from Powerway.

So - there are a lot of variables. How big is your company - one site or multiple sites? National or international? Intranet? 10baseT or 100baseT ethernet? Running on a mainframe or micro? NT or Unix or what? Using LotusNotes currently? How old is the oldest PC which will have to run the software and is it capable (CPU mhz, hard disk space, RAM, etc)? How many seats have to access the database? Are you running any other software packages which have an appropriate module?

By the way, Access is microsoft's office suite database. If you have the big office edition of msoffice, you have the access program.

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barb butrym
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posted 05 May 1999 09:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for barb butrym   Click Here to Email barb butrym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Best canned packages I have seen is ISI...Intergral Solutions....and the best support. Keyway has a doc control package.... BUT I still use MS Access cause i have to adapt to so many industries and company networks.

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Don Winton
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posted 06 May 1999 12:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Don Winton   Click Here to Email Don Winton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
I would be interested to hear more about your Customer Tracking Access DB.

Post me by e-mail and I will explain the concept.

quote:
...it's not as easy to use over time as folks might have you believe...

Marc is correct. Experienced Word users know these features, but those less ╬experiencedÔ (lots of ╬em) may play havoc with this type of system. A central control point would be favorable.

quote:
I'm not familiar with MS Access, but we have it here and I'm checking it out.

During a typical installation, there is a sample DB called Northwind. Try that for some fun for now. During a FULL installation, there are two others, the names slip me at this time (Mac at home and Access does not run on a Mac).

I have limited experience with the Powerway package, but what I say I did not like. The package you mentioned looks OK, but proceed with caution.

I have written several in the past using Filemaker and those also worked well.

Regards,
Don

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Kim
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From:Houston, TX
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posted 06 May 1999 11:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kim   Click Here to Email Kim     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There's Marc!! I was wondering where you'd been!
quote:
Word has a revision feature (which 'can' play hell when you get into formatting)

I am going to end up reformatting all the procedures in our books, and in Word, everything will be marked in the margins (that's our way). That will make it impossible to tell what actual content changes were made as opposed to formatting changes.
The other software allows for formatting changes by changing the number after the decimal, so you don't have to do a full revision. For example, procedure # 4.0 becomes 4.1 with minor spelling & formatting changes. That was one of the features I liked.
The two main software packages we use are Visual Manufacturing, and Quest. It's been rumored, though, that soon we will have to switch from Quest because VM will no longer support it. If I could find something that would do everything that I want, and pull the data from VM that we need, maybe I can talk them into it.....

Our computer Guru would never let us purchase something that wouldn't do what we needed. He is also very thorough (did I spell that right?)with his research, and would make sure that everyone that needed to run it would be able to do so.

I just have to get him on my side....

Thanks for the input! Keep it coming!

Kim

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Marc Smith
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posted 11 July 1999 02:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Marc Smith   Click Here to Email Marc Smith     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From a recent 'list' discussion. Just some links.

----------snippo----------

Subject: Re: Q: ISO9000 documentation software /Willis/Zondervan
Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1999 11:37:51 -0600
From: ISO Standards Discussion

From: Zondervan Hans
Subject: Re: Q: ISO9000 documentation software /Willis/Zondervan

Nice surprise to meet another Dutchman at the list. I once visited a demonstration of Powerway and I must say it performed very well (I don't work with it myself). My objection to Powerway is that it is dedicated and limited to ISO 9000. Text of the ISO norm is included in the software and you don't have the ability to define your own (business-)norms. Powerway had the intention to release an ISO 14000 product as well but then you need two different products with similar functions what does not seems attractive to me.

Other products you can look at are:
Micrografx Optima!, you can download a demo from http://www.micrografx.com
Manual Master, see http://www.qims.nl
Protos, http://www.pallas.nl
EQS, http://www.byelex.com
MAVIM, http://www.mavim.com
Quality On-Line, http://www.qonline.nl

As far as I know all this software is Windows-based PC software and really doesn't cost the earth.

Hans

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Marc Smith
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posted 11 July 1999 02:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Marc Smith   Click Here to Email Marc Smith     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From: David Bradley
Subject: RE: ISO9000 documentation software /Willis/Bradley

Robert wrote (in part):

I usually don't recommend using any specific software to write policies, procedures, or work instructions. Most that I've found you type in your business name and they spit out a policy. Unfortunately, in many cases the organization has to spend so much time adapting the canned policy, that it would have been more beneficial to create the policy or procedure from scratch. I recommend flow-charting your procedures and writing the procedure from the flow-chart.

One good documentation control software you might want to look at is Quick Links. It doesn't really write the documentation for you, but it gives structure and organization. You can find their website at: http://www.qmsonline.com/.

Which ever way you go, just remember that your documentation and your actions must match. Best of luck.

Dave B

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Marc Smith
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posted 11 July 1999 02:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Marc Smith   Click Here to Email Marc Smith     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From: Marc Richardson
Subject: RE: ISO9000 documentation software /Willis/Richardson

Dear Robert,

In a former position and state far, far away, we used a software package called System 9000 built on the Lotus Notes platform. It has some nice features like auto-routing for review & approval, electronic signatures, and auto-escalation. It also has some annoying, non-windows, characteristics (it's not Microsoft) like having to click twice in the text area to edit text.

Marc Richardson

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Marc Smith
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posted 11 July 1999 02:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Marc Smith   Click Here to Email Marc Smith     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Subject: Re: ISO9000 documentation software /Willis/Bradley
Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1999 15:44:41 -0600
From: ISO Standards Discussion

From: Mark Bradley
Subject: RE: ISO9000 documentation software /Willis/Bradley

Robert,

I have recently purchased JK Technologies Doc9000. I am pretty happy with it as a document control system. It is not as complicated as some of the other software I reviewed, and allows for you to tailor it to your needs. It also is one of the more inexpensive document control software programs out there (important to my bosses).

Technical support has been very good also.

Check it out at http://www.jkt9000.com

Mark

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Marc Smith
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posted 16 July 1999 02:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Marc Smith   Click Here to Email Marc Smith     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
See www.qualitydigest.com/currentmag/html/iso.html for the latest (as of 19990715) software for quality. There's a pdf file there to download or try Elsmar.com/pdf_files/isosoft.pdf for a comparisons listing.

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Marc Smith
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posted 18 July 1999 06:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Marc Smith   Click Here to Email Marc Smith     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From: Kenn Engum
Subject: Re: ISO9000 documentation software /Willis/Bradley/Engum

In reference to PowerWay software. Our company purchased this software in 1998. The software is good package for anyone going thru the ISO or QS certification process, although it is not user friendly. The program itself is very expensive as is the training provided by PowerWay. So far we have found the reliability of the software to be poor and technical support slow at answering your calls. So far we regret buying the program and would advise anyone interested to take a long hard look at what you are buying.

I can be contacted about this if need be.
Kenn - [email protected]

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Marc Smith
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posted 18 July 1999 06:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Marc Smith   Click Here to Email Marc Smith     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From: Charley Scalies
Subject: Re: Q: ISO9000 documentation software /../Naish/Earle/Scalies

With all these plugs flying around for documentation software, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention ProcedureWRITE which I used to create and post the sample procedures at our web site.

Charles J. Scalies
[email protected]

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Marc Smith
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posted 18 July 1999 09:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Marc Smith   Click Here to Email Marc Smith     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From: "Hankwitz, John"
Subject: RE: Q: ISO9000 documentation software /../Earle/Scalies/Hankwitz

Or how about a simple intranet. It's extremely flexible and easy to use. It's almost free if you already have an intranet, and the viewing software is free. Since every team in the company has at least one computer, information is easy to access, and always up to date. Changes are displayed in maroon text, and all employees are notified via e-mail when a change is made, with a hyperlink from the e-mail to the changed document/intranet page. Document control is handled with a simple data base.

Also, our DNV auditor loves it. We simply plug his laptop into out network upon arrival, and he can easily find anything and everything he needs in minimal time. His normal 60 to 90 minute preparation time is usually reduced to less than 20 minutes. This gives him more time to help us identify areas that can be improved. It's great!

John Hankwitz
[email protected]

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B. Maynard
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posted 30 December 1999 11:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for B. Maynard   Click Here to Email B. Maynard     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Happy New Year All!
You might want to check out web site http://WDM-QS9000-Y2K.com

It is hands on developed software.
Bill

[This message has been edited by B. Maynard (edited 30 December 1999).]

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Marc Smith
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posted 30 December 1999 11:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Marc Smith   Click Here to Email Marc Smith     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by B. Maynard:
Happy New Year All!
You might want to check out web site http://WDM-QS9000-Y2K.com

It is hands on developed software.
Bill


You have left this web address in another post but have yet to answer the question:

Do you use this software? How big is youyr company? Why are you recommending it? Did you have legacy documents to deal with when you implemented it?

[This message has been edited by Marc Smith (edited 30 December 1999).]

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