I’ve designed and implemented QMS systems using excel and there are advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages - Organisations that already use MS Office don’t need to buy additional software to use it, it’s got the potential to perform a variety of functions (depending on the competency of the user) and it you can set up systems to be tailored to your organisation’s exact needs.
Disadvantages – If an organisation employs a Quality Systems Manager who is proficient with excel, that person might set up a really good system (which the organisation relies on to operate its QMS) but when that person leaves the company their replacement may not be able to understand and maintain the existing system. If more than 1 person needs to edit the document at the same time, you can have problems with people saving over each other’s work. Excel systems can be quite fragile, so if multiple individuals are using the same system it’s hard to stop people from merging cells or overtyping formulae…. Then after a few months you realise a value somewhere hasn’t been updating and a load of your reports are producing erroneous data. There’s a limit to what an offline system can achieve compared to an online system.
Recently, I’ve been developing cloud based systems so now I’m in a position to make a comparison between using excel to develop quality systems against using database software for a cloud based QMS. In brief, I’d say the stability/useability of software solutions brings a significant advantage over excel and I think the cost of the fragility of excel systems is generally underappreciated.. But the continuity advantage of software is only a real advantage is the software is a practically good fit for your organisation’s needs. I’ve seen good software solutions and really poor software solutions, so it’s important to really evaluate how well the software package actually performs the functions you need it to carry out.
Saying all that, there are things you can do online that just aren’t possible offline.
The 3 options of paper, manual/excel, and software seem to indicate progression/modernisation for quality management systems; but I can see people getting really good results with a combination of approaches. There’s nothing inherently flawed about using hard copies for process records, but introducing technological solutions where appropriate can bring a lot of advantages.
Edited by Charles.C, 14 July 2021 - 01:56 PM.