Vol. 11, No. 6
June 2009
PQ Systems
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Software

 

   

Going green—and a whole lot more
with document management

“Going green” has acquired a new meaning in the face of energy costs, concern for the environment, and tightening of budgets throughout industry, and its most visible manifestation often seems to lie in saving paper. Recycling containers stand side by side with trash bins, and organizations publicize their recycling or reduction efforts to stakeholders. Companies are increasingly relying on electronic newsletters to replace print publications, on email instead of printed memos, and on electronic attachments rather than printed photographs or diagrams.

Saving paper may be a laudable goal in itself, but other benefits often accrue from the move to electronic communications as well. An electronic document control system, for example, not only addresses the need to reduce paper and printing costs, but assures much higher levels of accuracy and consistency in an organization’s critical documents. It is far easier and more efficient to keep track of document reviews and changes, not to mention archiving earlier revisions for reference, with electronic document control software such as that offered in Quality Workbench.

The Quality Workbench software program is designed specifically for small organizations (generally less than $20 million annual revenue or 200 employees), supporting their need to create, support, revise, and distribute documents. Larger organizations, on the other hand, can benefit from Quality Workbench’s sister product, Workbench Professional.

Akcros Chemicals, among the leading chemical additive suppliers for the PVC and polymers industries, is proud of its reputation for high quality products and innovative technologies. The company uses Quality Workbench to assure the same quality in its document management system. Joe Trilone, Quality Systems Management Rep, Site Safety & Security Manager and Technical representative, says the company has used the Quality Workbench database to control its ISO documents for many years. The system has enabled them to “easily keep track of, update, and distribute documents without creating the typical costly paper trail—and without missing a recipient on a documents distribution list,” he says, pointing out the dual benefit of improving efficiency while reducing paper and distribution costs.

Companies like Akcros, with its history of commitment to quality production since 1937, are dedicated not only to the quality of their products, but also to accuracy in documents such as those that govern work processes and product specifications. Often, organizations have invested thousands of hours in maintaining records such as these and assuring their accuracy. Technology use not only reduces this investment, but assures higher levels of accuracy as well.

The architecture of Quality Workbench makes it possible to choose modules that offer the most appropriate solutions for any organization. The program helps small companies manage their quality systems by offering options for customizing responses to quality challenges. Document control is among three of the most popular modules in Quality Workbench, along with Non-Conformance and Auditing modules. Additional modules apply to training records and customer care.

Akcros’ needs include assurance of compliance with safety and environmental standards. Whether an organization requires secure compliance with health, safety, or environmental statutory regulations, or simply needs an efficient document review process that assures consistency throughout the organization, Quality Workbench can help by streamlining the process and assuring its integrity. Trilone especially recommends document management software for those with responsibility for implementing and maintaining quality and environmental management systems. When documents are implemented, imported, approved, and issued electronically at the department level employees and managers are in tune with what is going on. This normal work flow process enhances communication and eliminates the need for a full time document control manager.

Of course, it can be said that organizations have managed document control for years, using only word processing (before that, handwriting). A typical system might have included master lists of documents stored in spreadsheets, manual routing of documents for approval, 3-ring binders for everyone to keep track of documents, and change request forms to initiate changes. If a change was needed, the process would begin again. With documents and change requests flying all over an organization, it’s easy to see how inconsistencies and inaccuracies would be endemic in the system.

When better systems become available, such processes seem cumbersome in their obsolescence. The fountain pen was terrific until the typewriter came along, after all, and the typewriter has been relegated to the attic with the use of word processing.

The newest generation of document control systems demands sophisticated electronic storage capability and ease of use to generate accuracy and consistency in document management. Compliance to standards, as well as the creation of archives of document revisions, is enhanced with modern technology.

Quality Workbench helps organizations not only to manage creation, revision, and distribution of documents, but its other modules help them to conduct internal and external audits, address customer complaints quickly, maintain training records, and track recurring issues to promote improvement.

Once document management has been handed over to Quality Workbench, contents of all those 3-ring binders can be emptied into the shredding and recycling bin, and employees can fill ensuing empty shelves with pictures of their children.

Or maybe even a potted plant or two, to celebrate the move to green.

 

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