RE: SOP management software recommendations?

Subject: RE: SOP management software recommendations?
From: "Dori Green" <dgreen -at- associatedbrands -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2006 09:34:51 -0500

Brian Asbury wrote:

...does anyone have any good recommendations for SOP management software?


Despite some problems making contact for the promised technical support via
e-mail, I've been generally pleased by the ISO package #3 from . It was less than $500,
compared to many thousands of dollars for similar systems. It saved us from
the expense of developing our own database from scratch (several weeks of my
time), and avoided the pitfalls of wheel reinvention (and perhaps forgetting
a vital piece at the beginning). Any fellow database developers will groan
along with me at the thought of trying to fit something vital into a
framework after the darned thing has been put together. It can almost
always be done but it is almost never pretty.

It was _very_ helpful that I'm conversant if not fluent in both German and
Microsoft Access. The database came with abolutely no documentation -- no
field descriptions, nada. Many of the field names are in German or Dutch
(it was developed in The Netherlands), and it's often difficult to track
fields back to their original source table.

We chose to follow the ISO model without making a firm commitment to full
registration at this time (although of course we're leaning in that
direction). The biggest advantage of following a well-known model (and the
whole theory behind standardization) is that we don't have to explain the
details of our management system -- we just tell a customer or regulatory
agency auditor "We're following the ISO model". Either they're familiar
with it or they don't want to admit that they aren't, and we move on from

If all you need is SOP management, this database might provide more than you
need. Basic management can be done with a simple spreadsheet and a lock on
the filing cabinet, after all. A relational database, however, adds some
impressive bells and whistles to the system. Maybe because my job is so
invisible and behind-the-scenes, I make it a point to add impressive bells
and whistles where I can. This database does that.

The documentation they provide needs rewriting and font fondling, but that's
needed anyway to customize the thing. They've embedded documents into the
database; I prefer to link out to Word files for development and convert
those into pdf files that I post in a shared folder or on the company
intranet for the masses to touch and play with. This also keeps the
database itself lean and portable on a flash drive.

If I'm able to solve the contact problem, I plan to prepare a Journal
article and maybe a local conference or program presentation about using
this database for document control. With tech support contact, I would
recommend it highly despite the translation difficulties. It is not a
plug-and-play solution but it works for what I want it to do.

Without the tech support and somebody who can translate German and is an
Access power-user, it could be difficult and I would not recommend it.

They do provide document samples at their website. You'll see that doc
design is not their strong point. Their database reports are even worse.
That's not a problem for me because doc design is what I do for fun.

No system is perfect.

Dori Green
Technical Writer, QMS Project
Associated Brands, Inc.
Medina, NY Facility


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SOP management software recommendations?: From: Brian Asbury

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