What do yoga and quality management have in common? Flexibility helps.
But whether or not “become a yogi” made it on your resolutions list, improving the flexibility, or more accurately, configurability in your eQMS should be a key goal this year for your quality team.
Remember, configurability refers to how easily a system like an eQMS can be tailored to meet your unique quality needs. A configurable system allows you to modify settings, templates, or workflows to better align with your company's QMS and compliance requirements, all without requiring a PhD in Computer Science.
An eQMS should make quality management easier, but if you’re not taking full advantage of configuration within the platform, or your configurations are outdated, it might be causing you more stress. Now is a good time to take a closer look at how your quality management workflows are configured in the system and do some New Year clean up.
Keep it Simple:
Yoga isn’t about getting into the most complicated poses imaginable (thankfully). Instead, it’s about gaining and maintaining the flexibility that best supports your daily life.
eQMS configuration is similar. As you’re configuring workflows and processes into your eQMS, it’s tempting to add every potential role, document category, stage, etc. you could ever dream of needing, especially if you’re used to dealing with a rigid system. But overcomplicating your configuration could actually cause more stress – the exact opposite of what your eQMS should do.
Use the start of the year to reassess your eQMS configuration. Two common problem areas? Excessive categories that are clogging up your system, making it harder to find what you need quickly, and unnecessary or outdated user roles creating extra confusion when assigning tasks or adjusting permissions.
Remember, you can always add in configurations in the future. Don’t over complicate your system up front. This is why it’s so important to choose an eQMS that makes configuration easy. With the right eQMS, you should be able to configure and reconfigure your workflows without the help of an IT team. If your eQMS platform charges you every time you need to make a change, or you have to wait months for your internal IT team to configure the system, you’ll be more likely to bloat your eQMS with unnecessary steps from day one out of fear you might need them in the future.
Look for Redundancies:
When you switch from paper and/or spreadsheets to an eQMS, a truly configurable platform allows you to translate your current quality processes into the system almost exactly. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should. If you didn’t scrutinize your QMS workflows while moving them into your eQMS, it’s not unlikely a few redundant stages or signature steps made it into your configuration. Employee turnover, process changes, and company growth can all lead to configurations that no longer serve your team, too.
At least once a year, you should clean out the eQMS clutter. To judge whether a configuration might actually be slowing down your processes, look for:
- Repetitive signature steps: Is the same person signing off on a workflow multiple times? Can you simplify the approval step into one signature requirement?
- Unnecessary data fields: Are you collecting the same data across multiple stages? Is the data you’re collecting actually needed? Repetitive or unnecessary form fills not only complicates reporting, it leaves more room for human error.
- Workflows with too many stages: Unless a new person needs to be assigned to a workflow task, there's no reason to create a separate stage in the procedure. Combining stages helps streamline quality management and keeps your eQMS clutter-free.
Think outside the box, not out-of-the-box
Though an “out-of-the-box” eQMS usually means you can get up-and-running pretty quickly, this type of system is pretty rigid. What you gain in speed, you give up in flexibility. Plus, you lose the familiarity of your tried-and-true quality workflows.
That’s why a lot of life sciences companies prioritize a robust, configurable eQMS over an out-of-the-box solution. The ability to transform it into exactly what you need it to be is a powerful feature. But while you may already know how a configurable system benefits your quality team, a truly configurable eQMS can be used across different departments. For example, with the right data-fill customizations and categories, HR documents like employee onboarding forms can easily be created and automated in the system. Encourage your team to think creatively. By thinking outside the traditional confines, you can take full advantage of everything a configurable eQMS has to offer.