Quality Document (QD) organization and scaling is an important consideration. There are a number of reasons for establishing and maintaining QDs and many challenges associated with managing QDs are consistent across different industries and applications.
One such challenge is complexity costs. In general, complicated systems are more difficult and expensive than simple systems (the exception proves the rule for complexity costs). A set of complicated and inter-related documents requires much more time to update than a simple set of documents. In part, this is because QDs typically cross-reference other related QDs. Updating one document requires modifying other documents as well. As a system of documents becomes more inter-related, the time to modify elements of the system vs. the total number of the elements of a system is more accurately modeled by an exponential curve than a linear approximation. Taken to the extreme, an accurate model incorporates the fact that in practice, very large numbers of documents become impossible to update. The following example in Figure 1 is aggregated and simplified based on experience in the pharmaceutical industry:
Figure 1: A simple model of Time vs. # of Documents to Edit. Document editing time is not linear (blue line) vs. the number of documents. Instead, the actual document editing time is exponential (red line) vs. the number of documents. The difference (dotted green line) between the curves could be interpreted as the true added value of harmonization. A. For a small number of documents (20) the difference in editing time is small – 40 days for ‘ideal’ vs. 49 days for ‘actual’ – a difference of 9 days. B. For a larger number of documents (40) the difference in time is larger – 80 days for ‘ideal’ vs. 119 days for actual – a difference of 39 days.
Linear model (ideal): Assuming 2 days editing per document, decreasing the number of documents from 40 to 20 would save the company 40 days in editing time. In other words, ideally, a 50% decrease in the number of documents from 40 to 20 is a 50% decrease in editing time.
However, for a complicated system the editing time exponentially increases with the number of related documents.
Exponential model (actual): Decreasing the number of documents from 40 to 20 saves closer to 70 days in editing time. In Figure 1 on the ‘difference’ curve, going from point ‘B’ (39 days difference for 40 documents) to ‘A’ (9 days difference for 20 document) is 30 days. Thus, the complexity savings is ~ a month of editing time. With the exponential model, a 50% decrease in the number of documents from 40 to 20 is a 58% decrease in editing time.
All this really means is that there is value in reducing complexity costs and that. quantitatively, the value is greater than if there was no cost associated with complexity. In practice, there are many strategies for reducing the costs due to complexity. One simple example is a reduction in the number of documents:
Finally, the most cost-effective strategy is to mitigate complexity costs by organizing QD systems before they become overly complex. PSC Software’s highly configurable electronic Quality Management System (eQMS), ACE™, is designed to provide the framework for a highly organized and integrated QD system. Additional offerings including consulting, project management and execution services will optimize your system processes, and prevent run-away costs due to unnecessarily complex documentation. For more information and to schedule a free demo, click here: https://www.pscsoftware.com/contact-us