How to choose calibration software: Ten top considerations

If you’re beginning to be serious about the possibility of transferring all that penciled-in data from your 3 X 5 card system—or a customized, no-longer-supported program--into a secure gage calibration software program, don’t let the task of selecting the right software program stand in your way. The secret to choosing any software program—for any task—is to first understand what needs you have. There is a fine balance between selecting a program that serves your expressed and implied as well as latent needs, and one that offers more features than you will ever use. In short, pick software that will meet your needs today and tomorrow. Some questions that you may want to consider as you choose your gage management software:

10. How many times do you want to enter data? Unless you love re-entering data into multiple forms, you should look for a program that supports your calibration system directly. This may be in the form of bar code reading or other direct access functions.

9. How much time do you have to learn how to use the software ? If the gage management software program is ready to use immediately, without customization, you’ll save yourself time and reduce the long-term costs of internal training and customization.

8. How well can you anticipate future needs? If the software program has options to perform tasks that your organization is not currently doing but may need in the future, you will eliminate the need to invest in another program. Although your company may not be doing linearity studies, for example, this may be something that will be needed in the future.

7. How much do you want to spend? It is not axiomatic that the more you spend, the better the program will be. In fact, if you are purchasing far more functionality than your organization will ever need, you will find the investment largely wasted.

6. What capabilities do you need? If you want to share data with customers, calibration labs, or others, you will want clear, customized charts and reports, for example. If you want photos of your calibration equipment, to assist with identification and record-keeping, be sure that your software choice accommodates this need.

5. Can the software be modified to meet new or emerging gage calibration standards? Be sure that the developer will be able to help you when standards such as those advanced by the FDA or MSA are introduced or changed.

4. How many gages are you keeping track of? Since this number can change, you will want to be sure that the software you choose is as easily used for 12 gages as for 20,000.

3. What is the track record of the software development company? You will want to select an organization known for producing high-quality software over a period of years, one that will provide names of other organizations using the software.

2. Will the software offer gage R&R studies? Your organization may need to pursue this analysis in order to assure accuracy of the measurement system and enhance quality.

1. Is application support readily available for the program? A software development company should offer a robust maintenance plan that not only assures free upgrades on a regular basis, but also gives you the opportunity to talk with a technical and application support analyst in a timely manner, without being put on hold or receiving a recorded “please-press-two” message.

To see if GAGEpack meets your needs for gage calibration management, download a free trial.

Originally published in the February 2008 edition of Quality eLine, our free monthly newletter.

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