There are many reasons why companies use spreadsheets to document and control their calibration devices; spreadsheets are easy to learn and there is a perception that spreadsheets are inexpensive because they are readily available as part of software productivity suites such as Microsoft Office. So, why switch to calibration management software? While spreadsheets are excellent at performing “what-if” analysis, they fall short if you have large amounts of data, such as multiple calibrations for each instrument, if numerous users need to access the data at the same time or if you want to run complex queries on the data such as calibration tracking. The flat file structure of spreadsheets can create a lack of data integrity, as redundant data storage and complex updates make it difficult to control your information. The primary driving factor for implementing calibration management software is standards compliance. If your company is seeking compliance with a major standard such as ISO 9000, ISO/ TS16949 or FDA, you will quickly learn that a shift to calibration management is to your immediate advantage. When making the move from spreadsheets to a calibration management solution, there are several things to consider: 1. Are you making the move to attain a certification standard? If so, you will want to identify providers whose software solution will help you meet those requirements. 2. There are sufficient choices for calibration software on the market, so narrow the choices down to a solution that fits your budget and corporate/ departmental goals while at the same time taking advantage of a data management system. 3. Identify providers that will help your company make the transition from spreadsheets to software. Look for software solutions that have an import tool or a provider that offers services that will help transfer your spreadsheet data. Re-entering several years’ worth of data is time consuming and unnecessary with higher-end solutions. 4. Look for software that has spreadsheet-like features such as datasheet grids for viewing and sorting multiple records in a single view and similar search tools to those found in typical spreadsheet applications. This will help the end user transition easily to a superior solution. 5. The transition from spreadsheets to a calibration software solution presents a learning opportunity for the end user. Make the learning curve as short as possible by selecting a provider with software trainers who have years of experience with their product and in the industry as a whole. You will also want to make sure that long-term support is available to help you manage employee turn-over. 6. Be sure your data will be protected by selecting a software solution that offers security access measures. Frequent data backups should be performed automatically and security preferences can be set to require password access, user-level permissions, read-only privileges and digital signatures. Many of the larger software providers have helped thousands of customers like yourself make the leap from spreadsheets to calibration software. In the end, your company will have a calibration management solution that will serve you for years to come.
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