SCS Africa revamps Appletiser's quality management system
Leading black owned IT enterprise, SCS Africa, recently implemented a new quality management system at the Appletiser production facility at Elgin and offices in the Western Cape and Johannesburg.
With minimum disruption to Appletiser and no systems downtime, the implementation was a major achievement for both companies. It took SCS Africa only eight days to implement Achiever Plus, a Lotus Domino-based application, well-known and widely used in the UK and Europe, with an installed base of approximately 250 000 users worldwide.
Appletiser is ISO 9000:2000 and ISO 14001 certified and needed to convert to an effective electronic document management system to replace a burdensome manual management system and to assure ongoing compliance with ISO certification requirements and maintenance of the standards. The overriding requirement was for the most current ISO documentation to be immediately available to authorised users for reference anywhere and at all times. The Achiever Plus system complied with this and other exacting requirements.
An Appletiser task team examined a number of available options including options from SCS Africa. SCS provided two options for Appletiser. The first being the development of a completely new system according to Appletiser's quality assurance requirements and the second the deployment of an off-the-shelf solution.
"The development option would have been too expensive and time-consuming and was eliminated. The Achiever Plus system was reviewed on three separate occasions and was then selected as the best solution. Because we have never had an electronic document management system with workflow functionality, our Quality Assurance Team responsible for the ongoing maintenance and evolution of standards such as ISO at Appletiser, felt that a tried and tested, customisable product would suit us better," explains Ray Williams, IT manager, Appletiser.
"We are a Lotus Domino shop and leveraging equipment and underlying software that already existed was a factor. It was also evident that the use of the application could be extended in the future to accommodate other requirements. Having dealt with SCS Africa in the past, we were very confident in contracting them to provide and implement the system."
The system was first tested in a lab environment, after which it was deployed in the production environment. Says Wendy Scott, business development manager at SCS Africa: "We looked at Appletiser's document taxonomies, structures and naming conventions and configured Achiever Plus accordingly. This makes it Appletiser's system, with their own framework, keywords and categorisation."
Achiever Plus allows for continual business improvement, making people accountable for their actions. Documents can easily be tracked, including the history and all comments about the document. Old documents can be archived so that only the latest version appears on the system. Achiever Plus comes standard with built-in reports and views, allowing for quick navigation to information stored in the system. A document is generated for each action and the feedback on these documents provide the business with an actual cost for the query or complaint.
The system is not owned or administered by just by the IT department. Except for routine housekeeping such as adding new users, managing replication and overseeing standardisation and change controls, all the functions of Achiever Plus are entirely managed by "owner-users" - those employees who have the greatest interest in the optimal use of the application.
"At Appletiser, the Quality Assurance team has the skills and the necessary knowledge to administer the ISO accredited systems on behalf of the business," says Ray Williams. "IT facilitates this and Achiever makes it possible."
Achiever Plus is fully Web-enabled, which allows the predefined Appletiser Kiosk users to access policies and procedures via a browser interface. When a document is published or changed, the system can notify people involved via an e-mail message with a doclink or URL link attached to it.
The modular nature of the system offers flexibility, yet full integration. Of the seven modules available, Appletiser chose to install the following six: Document Control, Audits and CAR (corrective action), Contact Management, Issues and Personnel and Training Risk Assessment.