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Thursday, 19 September 2013

Product Safety and Quality Assurance Paperwork Reduction – Open for Discussion

Sophisticated and complex management systems with elaborate documentation do not necessarily provide greater guarantees of product safety and quality. You need to maintain only the optimum (not maximum) paperwork in your product safety management system. Systems that tend to create “more paperwork” for the sake of “documenting everything” without providing a strategic approach to the documentation process often become counter-productive systems.

The industry is overburdened with paperwork. Large operations often do not have as much of a problem with paperwork management. Many paperwork management solutions tend to be elitist (i.e. only for the medium to large operations that can afford the associated costs). 

A commonly suggested solution is the use of electronic systems for the collection, management and retrieval of information and data. Electronic data management systems are useful but they need to be carefully selected in order to be cost effective for the operation. Highly elaborate systems are not automatically useful to all operations.

Can a pileup of paperwork stop the train?

I must admit that I, like many others in the industry, feel that every operation must maintain applicable, adequate and a consistent trail of paperwork. Contracts, operating procedures and work plans or schedules are necessary but are many of the records that are mandated today necessary? Is the industry intimidated and driven into the avalanche of paperwork by a “Prove It” syndrome? Besides recorded information, are there other ways for operations to prove their commitment, consistency and success?

What are some feasible paperwork management solutions for small operations? Shall we say that the only solutions available to cash-strapped small operations are the usual advice for them to “just do the paperwork or leave the business”; or to “buy an electronic paperwork management system”?

Most importantly, can the paperwork currently mandated in the industry by various schemes be reduced to a more manageable volume by cutting out nice-to-have but redundant documentation?

Efficient paperwork management requires far more than its categorization according to the typical four levels of documentation.

GCSE-Food & Health Protection provides a simple Paperwork Reduction Guide that may be of interest to you. In the SSQA program implementation manual, the main categories and types of documents with a Mandatory, Useful and Discretionary (MUD) scale are also identified to guide decisions about what paperwork to maintain. A MUD-Scale assessment of every operation's documentation is highly recommended under SSQA.

You may REGISTER to receive SSQA Updates. Better still, you may obtain a copy of the SSQA Implementation Manual.

Posted By Felix Amiri

Felix Amiri is the current  Food Industry Chair of GCSE-Food & Health Protection


  1. Really worth discussing it. I faced similar problems with paper documents in the beginning of my career and I hated it. But I replaced all the papers with electronic documents for QMS and FSMS. No documents on paper records available in the QMS except few departmental records where the departmental staff are not convinient to use the electronic records. But success is even the production department has all of its records in the form of electronic documents which makes the huge deal of works related to HACCP, GMP etc so easy. And easily retrivable. Always available and verifiable. Easy to use and record also. Comments can be written and recorded. Even I am signing on the records I mean on Excel sheets and protecting them that others can't easily edit them on the rows I signed. Its really cool now with my work along with the electronic documents and records.

  2. There is a solution for small to mid sized plants to greatly reduce their paperwork and to receive a quick return on their investment. Most look at complex ERP systems which are too much for their operations and pocket books. This is one of the major reasons plants have ignored implementing such a system. If they contact us they will see there is a solution that will work for them at a price they can afford.