Key IT Considerations When Selecting New Quality Software
PricewaterhouseCoopers survey data shows that companies expect Industry 4.0 digitization initiatives to add $493 billion to revenues to their bottom lines over the next few years.
Quality management is a prime target for digital transformation, and while adoption of quality software is growing, it’s important to address IT concerns before jumping in.
If you’re considering implementing quality software in your organization, you’ll want to think about security, ease of use and integration with business intelligence tools. Today we’re looking at each of these, also highlighting some qualities to look for in a robust quality solution.
Cloud vs. On-Premise
Gartner predicts Software as a Service (SaaS) will grow to nearly half of all total application software spending by 2021. The main reason so many manufacturers are opting for cloud-based SaaS systems comes down to total cost of ownership. These solutions require less maintenance and rapid scalability without investing in server hardware, both of which add up to lower costs.
So when do on-premise data centers make sense? You might think about it if you have:
- Rigid compliance concerns
- High-performance computing requirements that call for dedicated hardware
- Other needs requiring physical access to servers
Security and Reliability
Platform security and reliability are key considerations for manufacturers implementing software today. Questions you may be thinking about include:
- Is cloud-based software actually secure? Cloud providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS) guarantee cloud platform components including data storage and integrity, network management and maintenance. The bottom line is that if entire data warehouses fail, your data wouldn’t be at risk.
- What about application security? Within any application, look for multi-level security options that include enterprise single sign-on as well as advanced settings you can configure to your requirements.
- Will my data be there when I need it? Cloud-based solutions typically offer better reliability compared with making your IT department responsible for availability, redundancy and data recovery. For instance, AWS now offers uptimes of more than 99.99%.
- What about aerospace defense contractor requirements? If you’re required to comply with International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), that doesn’t mean you can’t leverage cloud-based software. Look for an application provider that uses special cloud instances like AWS GovCloud, which adheres to Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) requirements and provides next-level security in terms of physical data access controls.
- Do plant floor mobile devices put our intellectual property at risk? One thing to look for here is that the application provider encrypts data in transit and in storage. You can also use tools like geo-fencing to protect data when devices are outside a specific area or mobile device management (MDM) for remote reset, locking and app management.
Ease of Use
Ease of use isn’t just something quality professionals need to think about when selecting new quality software. It’s also something IT needs to pay attention to when allocating IT funds, given the cost of failed software implementation.
What are some of the most important considerations to look at?
- Implementation Support: A good vendor will provide turnkey support throughout the entire lifecycle of software use. Your vendor’s implementation team should ensure a streamlined process and ongoing support that doesn’t require extra resources from IT.
- Mobile Capabilities: The ability to conduct quality activities on a mobile device will help improve user adoption, reducing the likelihood that people simply won’t use the software.
- Reporting: If your team has to spend lots of time extracting data from quality software or building reporting capabilities, that represents a serious loss in productivity. Look for a solution that allows teams to easily create and share reports on their own, as well as dashboarding capabilities so you don’t have to constantly respond to data requests.
The ability of any quality software to improve process effectiveness impacts IT in terms of having to provide less resources and avoiding the risks of implementation failure.
Compatibility with Business Intelligence Tools
If your company uses business intelligence software like Tableau, Power BI or other tools, you want to ensure that any quality software you implement can integrate with it.
Companies that use these types of tools are often large organizations with complex data needs. For instance, you may have multiple plants across the country and you want to dig deeper into the data than you can with the quality software itself.
If this is your company, look for a vendor offering data warehousing options built on a platform like Amazon Redshift that’s compatible with a wide range of business intelligence tools.
When implementing any new quality software, IT considerations are part of the overall picture you must address. The key is to find a flexible, secure solution that ensures a streamlined implementation. Focus on those key elements, and you’re much more likely to have a successful project that satisfies both end users as well as your IT team.
Tim Reynolds is the Director of Information Technology and Development Operations for EASE. He has over 25 years in the technology industry as a CIO, CISO and Senior Technology leader responsible for the architecture and building, securing and supporting complex systems and infrastructures for Fortune 500 companies to early stage startups. He has designed the architecture and technology solutions for companies such as XO Communications, State Farm, Penson Worldwide, FOLIOfn, InvestLab, COR Clearing, and now Beacon Quality for Ease.