Paperless ISO 9001:2000

Poornam Info Vision Pvt. Ltd. started ISO implementation proceedings in 2003. In early 2003, when the subject of getting ISO standardization was first broached to our partner Kishore Menon, his reaction was “Its going to be paperwork”. Our Managing Director, Col. Krishnan who also happens to be qualified ISO auditor now, even went to the extent of saying we should buy a photocopier machine because that was going to be cheaper considering the quantity of documents and records we were going to be generating on a daily basis.


 Their fears were quite justified considering that most Indian companies that get certified in ISO 9001:2000, expect and find themselves buried in paperwork. Processes like Verification and validation, Measurement and Monitoring and tracking nonconfirmities and their corrective actions on paper, can mean that papers are created and moved back and forth within a company&apss facility and create untold confusion. An organization can easily find itself caught up in managing paper, their locations, their control than analyzing the information in them.

Being an IT software and services company, the idea of so much paper taking up our time was abhorrant to us. There had to be a better way out.

We decided to build a system that was simple, flexible and accessible for each employee on their own computers. What that meant was that employees need not go to a special “ISO computer”, they should be able to enter documents from their own computers. At the same time we didn&apst want to install expensive software on each computer (we had 60 computers at the time). So we decided the best was to have simple Web based software running on the company Intranet. Most people were familiar with browsing on the Internet and wouldn&apst need extensive training if the software was Web based. And no need for expensive software, they would simply use their Internet Browsers to access the software.

We built a Web based system running off a Redhat Linux server and it was live in just a month. The system now has a Document Management system to help the MR manage Quality Manual and Work instructions. The documents are all versioned with restricted read and write access. What this means is that any modifications can be made only by authorized personnel. Changes are logged with date and time. Any changes to the document is immediately relayed via mail to all people who should know about the change. People can always see the old version of the document and compare it with the latest. The system is secure, convenient and yes, no paper.

The record management system is the main part of the system which bears the brunt of records that everyone keeps feeding into it in a daily basis. The moment someone enters a record(it could be any record), his supervisor is immediately notified via email. The supervisor can verify or validate it. The work can be measured and monitored. If the supervisor is happy with the work, he can login into the record management system and approve the record online. The date and time is automatically recorded. So at any point a supervisor can search for and find records, check how many were approved or rejected. This system tracks all records, makes it searchable by staff or supervisor or even the type of record like the Product Brief or the Nonconfirmity report.

An HR system stores the records for our 90+ employees, their personal information, their performance and the training they have attended. This helps department heads to recruit more efficiently from within the company than from outside. A purchase system tracks purchase orders and vendors. This integrates to an online Accounts payable and Ledger making it very useful to our Administration department to track Quality.

The system has been a marvelous decision, not only because it eliminated paper, but also because it helped us focus on what was important. Our Quality and Continuous improvement. We increase productivity and eliminated a lot of unnecessary typist level posts which would have been there if we had mounds of paper to generate. Our office wears a clean and crisp look. We got a kick from beating the predictions of all those who said that getting ISO 9001:2000 was paperwork. However the best reward of it all was seeing the stunned look on the Auditor’s face when we came in empty handed for the ISO Audit. “But, Where is all the paper?”

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