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Knowledge

Given the many gauge management software solutions available in the marketplace, how should you choose the best solution for your company ? When evaluating software, it is important to be well versed with the applicable internal and external requirements and processes, such as ISO, QS or FDA, as well as specific industry requirements and customers’ requirements.

Mid-to-high range software packages provide a solution focused on continuous adherence to industry standards such as ISO, QS or FDA, as well as scalability and reliable product support and services. Other, low-end packages provide compliance with current industry standards, but the vendors of these solutions do not keep current with latest technologies or changing standards. So, low-end solutions provide a quick fix but do not prove a good investment for companies seeking a long-term, or a large-scale deployment of a calibration management solution.

Considerations

Look for an established software provider with long-standing industry expertise and one that offers a calibration software solution as their main product offering. These companies are typically selling solutions, not just software. They will have more knowledge about the industry and are usually interested in customers’ continued success with their product. Therefore, look for the company that asks a lot of questions about the business; these companies are genuinely interested in a good fit and a long-term relationship.

Choose a stable company with a good reputation for its products, support, services and experience. While evaluating their software, look at the day-to-day service they provide. How well did their staff answer your questions ? Were they professional ? Did they provide information in a timely manner ?

A software Solution is one that offers better customization, support and training as against a as-is software Product. Support and training can be helpful in ensuring successful implementation and use. Always ask about support services and training availability - these areas are critical to the success of any software implementation. Find out if the vendor charges a fee for support and if it is an annual fee, or per-incident. Check which methods of support and training are available, whether it is at-site, over the telephone, e-mail -based or Web-based. And ask how long older versions are supported after a new version is released.

Look for a product that has a familiar interface, and provides easy and direct access to options and utilities. This may be the main screen of a gauge calibration management software, or its main menu.
Source : CyberMetrics

Software Evaluation

During the evaluation process, be sure to look into these other areas as well:

Ease of Use : Look for software that is easy to learn and use. It should use industry-standard terminology and operate in a fashion similar to mainstream packages, such as spreadsheet or word processing programs. If a good software is not available, continue evaluating, do not purchase in haste. Well-designed software, that are easy to learn and use, are available. Remember, if a software is not user-friendly, it is not likely to get used or may take more work-time away.

Features : Determine which features the company really needs. Having all the bells and whistles is great, but make sure they do not get in the way, and that the company is not paying for items that may never be used. At the same time, make sure the package offers all of the basics that a company needs. Do not be short-changed.

Stability : Obtain the trial copy, as this is often free. Test the software package thoroughly, on the actual equipment, before you purchase it. A trial will allow the operator to test the software for any clarifications in the method-of-use that could have enhanced day-to-day operations, and would bring out any problems in use.

Documentation : Choose software that is well documented. Without good documentation, software can be frustrating to learn and use. Good package documentation will help operators learn to use the product efficiently and allow them to refer to materials to answer questions as they learn to use the software.

Scalability : Look for a software package that meets both current and projected operational volumes. If the company is growing, they may very soon need software that can handle much more records than currently in use. Ensure that the package handles any volume increase without noticeable loss of speed. Scalability indicates the overall usefulness of the software to the company in the long run, not just that it meets the immediate operational needs well.

Upgrades : Good software progressively becomes easier to change, update and upgrade, and so operational work should be affected minimally when new versions should integrate more seamlessly. It is important to find out about the manufacturers’ upgrade policy before making a purchase decision. Are upgrades free ? Is there a time limit or additional charge ? What about later upgrades ? How often have they upgraded in the past ? What are the charges as compared to the standard prices ?

Client References : Many software vendors promote product forums and discussion groups for topical clarifications about the software and support. When available, look up such resources / references from the same industry.

Price : Look for a good value in your choice of software package. Check both single and multi-user license prices. Some companies may offer discounts on multi-user licenses even though the single-user price may initially seem higher. The ultimate value of the software is in how it helped the company, not the price.

Take out time to research and choose the best gauge management software package for your company, as it does require some work. Attempt to visualize the effort saved by the company upon choosing the right package the first time.

Software Selection

In your search for the right calibration management software solution, start by answering these basic questions:

What benefits do you need the solution to provide your company with, in addition to the requirements demanded by customers and the industry standards ?

Does the software need to integrate with existing company software systems ?
Can it be a stand-alone software solution ?

Does the software need to meet specific technology requirements set by your IT department ?

While competing software packages provide some common features, which solutions meet your companys' technology needs ?

Does the solution provide options for live product support and training ?

Will the solution allow for data import from the current system ?

What is the product development path / timetable of the software ?

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