If your experience is anything like mine, we quality practitioners rarely have enough time to both ensure consistent compliance and continuous improvement. Our outdated quality management systems mean that we frequently waste time on administrative tasks - time that could be better spent improving processes, collaborating on procedures, closing CAPAs, and a dozen other important tasks.
It’s frustrating, and as I later learned, completely avoidable.
After years struggling against the patchwork of software and manual processes my previous companies used to manage quality, I figured there had to be a better way. That’s when I learned about multi-tenant cloud quality management applications, and how much more efficient they could make my work compared to on-premise or private cloud systems.
From my experience, here are four of the biggest multi-tenant cloud time saving capabilities related to quality management:
1. One Complete Solution This seems like a no brainer. Aren’t all quality management systems comprehensive? As you may be experiencing in your organization, they are not. A multi-tenant cloud quality management application offers a truly unified, complete system. This means document management, training, and quality processes are all in one solution. Users can click from an audit finding to a CAPA and train on an SOP without logging in and out of different systems. In the past, I used one system for documents, another for QMS, and yet another for training. This meant three passwords to remember and three totally different configurations. So it’s no surprise that moving from toggling between disconnected systems multiple times a day to one complete quality solution results in significant time savings.
2. Simple Integration Multi-tenant cloud applications enable easy integration with quality-related MES, ERP, PLM, LMS, etc. This allows your organization to have truly integrated and unified systems and remove the barriers that force people to work in silos. For example, in a previous quality management role, I was looking for a nonconforming material module that could be integrated to our MES. Our software vendor told us that the hosted system could not integrate due to firewall limitations. This meant we would still have to manually control the use and quarantine of nonconforming material, creating gaps and compliance risks. Using a system that supported such an integration would have saved significant time.
3. Easy-to-use Today’s modern multi-tenant cloud applications have innovative web-based interfaces that feel like Amazon or LinkedIn. Workflow configuration is flexible and easy ensuring you have the best workflows that fit your needs to maintain compliance and efficiency. These qualities make it easier for users to quickly learn and consistently work within the system, which leads to faster cycle times and better results. In contrast, on-premise and private cloud systems are generally less intuitive and harder to configure or change. In my experience, these systems force you to conform your process to their pre-configured flows, which limits employee buy-in and leads to people manually working outside the system.
4. Dashboards and Reporting One of the most frustrating parts of my last quality role was how long it took to prepare trending and monitoring reports. The on-premise and private cloud systems I used did not include robust dashboard and reporting capabilities or make it easy to configure. It would literally take me weeks to prepare management review slides for several QMS processes from data scattered across spreadsheets, as well as create pivot charts and PowerPoint slides. With a multi-tenant cloud quality application, reports are easy to configure using data you are already entering into record fields. Once you have the reports you want, simply create a dashboard, download the images, and voila! paste them onto your PowerPoint slides. Accessible and customizable dashboards and reporting are huge benefits for maintaining and monitoring any quality system. Not only does this save employee time, but ultimately this real-time data allows your organization to be proactive and stay ahead of any emerging customer or product issues.
I know your time is valuable and limited. Don’t get trapped using outdated on-premise or private cloud quality systems that keep you from having unified and integrated quality management - choose a multi-tenant cloud solution.
Sophia Finn has over 10 years of quality experience in regulated industries. She began her career with the FDA working in CBER’s vaccine lot release program and later moved to the FDA’s office of regulatory affairs as a regulatory microbiologist. Additionally, Sophia has managed CAPA, complaints, audit, and deviation programs in the medical device industry. Sophia has a master of science in bioscience in regulatory affairs from Johns Hopkins University and is an ASQ Certified Quality Auditor.