Meat, poultry, milk and juice producers have long been regulated by the FDA and/or the USDA. Recent outbreaks of salmonella and other deadly bacteria as well as additional mishaps in food production and manufacturing plants have caused the FDA to warn that many other food products may soon be regulated as well. These products include produce, peanuts and other similarly mercurial foodstuffs. Consumers–without a doubt–would agree that it would be best for every food product to be strictly regulated. Food mishaps, whether they are caused knowingly or unknowingly, can often lead to pain, suffering and/or death to the consumer, and in many cases, jail time for the food producer.
For many food and drink auditors the solution to the food industry crisis is probably crystal clear. Quality management systems—including strict document control—is the key to keeping deviations and nonconformance events strictly in check. Whether a food or drink company is regulated or not regulated by the FDA and/or USDA that company should develop a quality management system that will comply with HACCP, ISO 22000, and ISO 9001:2008 standards as well as 21 CFR Part 11 requirements. The process may seem daunting but the alternative is certainly worse.
Document Management Systems
Managing documentation of all types—and especially quality-related documentation—is the lifeblood of a food and drink quality management system. SOPs, quality manuals and other documentation should be strictly managed. This process is very difficult when managed manually but is simple with document management systems technology. When searching for document management systems, Food and Drink representatives should look for a software developer that provides industry expertise along with its software and a very sound understanding of the regulations that must be met with the assistance of the document management systems. The practicality of meeting ROI with increased production speeds and better quality processes must also be manifested by the provider’s current customers. Otherwise, what would be the purpose of investment? Another issue to consider is that of convincing upper management. If you as a representative or your company think that the upper management won’t buy it then call the software provider and see what materials and presentations they can provide that are designed specifically to address the needs and wants of upper management representatives (e.g, bottom line, financial projections, etc.)
Start-Up Document Management Systems
For many companies in the Food and Drink industry the issue not investing in document management systems isn’t based on a lack of enthusiasm for quality management or document control. Often the issue is simply one of unavailable finance. Many Food and Drink companies would like to invest in document management systems that have been integrated with a quality management system but can’t seem to find the revenue to do so. What is the solution?
The Solution is Simple
The demand today for document management systems is so high that many software developers are investing in smaller solutions that can grow as a company grows. Many of these solutions are even industry specific designed with a Food and Drink, medical device or legal company in mind. These solutions, when chosen carefully are often reasonably priced and perfectly suited for Food and Drink companies that are striving to develop a quality management system that streamlines complete compliance without breaking the bank.
Document Management Systems Integrated with Training Management
Another common problem for the Food and Drink industry is managing training processes and proving that trainees have been thoroughly trained and have the skills necessary to perform their duties according to defined work descriptions established in SOPs, etc. Almost every quality management regulation and/or standard is going to require training management along with document management so why not look for a start-up solution that integrates document management systems with training management capabilities? Food and Drink companies can benefit from automated triggers (which automatically release a training course or a series of training units when a document undergoes a major revision).