Quality professionals have known for years now that their quality management system (QMS) and therefore their QMS software requires participation at different levels of detail, at different points in the various workflows that make up the QMS.
For example, there are document authors and process owners responsible for the content of documents, whether procedures, work instructions, or drawings that should then be followed by others that need to know the contents of these documents.
Total Lean Management software is the first eQMS application to pioneer the application of this inevitable aspect of the digital landscape into the development of its dual technology approach to meeting the needs of these two distinct user groups.
Upstream / Downstream User in your QMS Software
Upstream Users: This user group is defined by having the need for features and functionality that includes low frequency set up or administration tasks which are needed to support the workflows were other users have participation needs that are more frequent and common to day-to-day activities.
In our document example, upstream functionality might include establishing the available document types, categories, review groups or training methodology associated with your documents. Or perhaps after someone changes jobs or leaves the company, there might be a long list of documents that need reassignment to someone else and access to global reassignment tools is needed.
In summary, Upstream users would consist of the quality professionals in your organization, such as the Quality Manager, and their support staff.
Downstream Users: This user group is everyone else. This group needs to perform simpler, high frequency, everyday tasks once the Upstream users have set up that module, defined the workflows, and in some cases, initiated the record that downstream users have some role to participate in.
Why You Need a Dual Technology QMS Landscape
At the end of the day, unless you are specifically designing your software to work in two distinct display configurations for both user groups, as shown above in the TLM web app, it is just mutually exclusive to have lots of features for Upstream Users, and simplicity for Downstream Users in the same application.
Despite this, most QMS software options will propose that you put both user groups in the same application and doing that just adds to the struggle the quality folks have with getting everyone else to participate in the QMS as they should be as these downstream users will struggle with all the options, or complicated navigation if all these features are layered behind category choices.
Continuous Improvement Requires Rapid Updates
Having witnessed the full cycle from software selection through long term QMS software use, nothing could be clearer than the fact that nobody has a truly clear picture of what they need until after they have implemented the software.
Strickly cloud-based software systems struggle with responding to user update requests as the whole point of cloud-based software is to get everyone into a single system that can be charged as a service. This one size fits all approach comes into direct conflict with another well-known fact, there is only one type of quality system, Yours!
When considering quality management software options for your company, consider the Upstream and Downstream users in your organization, and whether their needs are being addressed separately, since they are vastly different, or whether there is a one-size-fits all assumption and approach to the user interface.