The Best Calibration Management Software Doesn’t Exist and That’s why It’s Hard to Find

looking for validated calibration tracking sofware

Finding the right calibration management software can be a trying experience.  You know you need to get something better than what you have.  You can try to look up “Best CMMS Software” lists or look at ratings for various software packages but there are MANY out there to choose from.  Still, you need to choose something for your company, we know.  We’ve been through it also.

We respectfully suggest that the sortable lists are a great way to start if you are starting from scratch on your search.  You have to start somewhere, after all.

You may also have some software packages that you have heard of that might work for you, based on the experience of other companies in your industry.  You can use these to test your process.

Ok, so the following are the basic steps:

  1. Make a list of your BASIC requirements (we already know its “calibration software”).  Some other requirements may include whether the system should be validated, or if it needs to meet FDA or EU requirements.  Additionally, do you care if it is web-based (Saas) or locally installed.
  2. BEFORE you go much further, make a list of the BASIC features you need in your software.  Once you start searching, you will see tons of features that are available, but it is great if you know what you really need going in ahead of time.  Otherwise you can get tempted to keep jacking up the cost for features that may not be so useful.
  3. Find a reputable search engine or website that ranks software and has a substantial inventory of software.  A top 10 list of CMMS systems is not going to do it.  Neither is a site that doesn’t allow you to enter search terms, or only shows featured (i.e. paid) software items.  It’s best to find a site that allows you to search featured and non-featured software packages.
  4. Search using your basic requirements first, as these will weed out a huge chunk of the software packages out there.  For example, if you are looking for a calibration management system that meets 21CFR11 requirements or if you need a validated system, you will save yourself a lot of time by putting that up front.  And if that is what you need, nothing else will do, so it would be a waste of time to see all the software systems that don’t meet those basic needs.
  5. Once you have the results from step 4 above, verify that software that you know should be on that list is on that list.  If not, it probably means you should try another search system that includes more software packages or maybe there is some other issue.  Otherwise you can continue to step 6 and evaluate the software that meets the basic requirements.
  6. From the list of software that meets your basic requirements, review the available packages in more detail to see how they match up with your list of desired features:  Is the software in your price range, with the features you know you will need?  Is it easy to use, or overburdened with “advanced” features that serve no practical purpose?  How it is it rated?  How is the business that provides it rated?  How long will it take to get up and running?  Do you need to buy additional hardware?  How is the warranty?  All of these questions can help narrow it down.  Consider your original list of features and whether that might have grown over time to result in an increased cost for features you may not use.
  7. Finally, when you are down to two or three software packages, check them out with the providers on line or in person.  Discuss how particular situations in your company can be managed most efficiently in the software, and see if it is a good fit.  A short meeting could give you a great feel for how the software would work for you.  You may also want to consider the reputation of the provider, since any warranty is only as good as whoever is providing it to you.

Understand that, especially in industries where compliance with regulations is required you will have to do a lot of additional documentation to document that the software you choose is acceptable for its intended use.  But, if you follow the above steps, you should quickly be able to narrow down the blizzard of software packages available into a few that are likely to serve you in your particular situation, whether you a looking for a system to track calibration, validation, maintenance, or any other purpose.  You may find that the original software you had in mind was the best after all, or maybe you will find a surprise and save some time and money in the process!  There is no CMMS system that is the best for everyone, after all.