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NewsCorner Apr 2014

QualityHelp Newsletter - April 2014


QualityHelp Newsletter - April 2014

Well here we are again, Folks.  The collective energy and inspiration continues to flow at a steady pace, but there is still much to do.

Once again I'd like to thank everyone in the team who contributed over the last month, and supported our site content and community in some way.

A lot of effort has been expended in expanding our Catalogue model, to match a working environment suitable for a small or medium siize organisation. By fleshing out a practical document, record and process management tool, we hope to instill in our readers the importance of founding a Quality Management System on sound, flexible and scaleable practices and methods. For any company seeking external Quality Management or other certification in their 3 to 5 year plans, the work effort is reduced significantly when records and document control is integrated and fundamental in daily work activities.

In April, we also started another major project that we will be sharing with our readers - a model for a Management Information System using Microsoft Access as a development tool.  We've been planning this for some time, with the ultimate objective of integrating the tool with both our Document Catalogue as well as the generation of dynamic metrics and reports into our site's Dashboards.

Enjoy the coming month, share our site with your work colleagues, and don't forget to provide feedback and constructive comments.

KenD (Site Facilitator)

Recent Articles

Roll Your Own Management Information System

When it comes to getting serious with IT Service Management, then we need more sophisticated tools than can be built with Drupal alone. It's time to store the basic Project, Tasks and Issues registers in the back shed (along with the typewriters and bundy clocks), and roll out our new Management Information System. But hang on, we don't have a budget for a decent MIS covering the scope of ITSM areas and functions.

We've looked at some Drupal modules and Open Source tools for bug tracking and project management. Whilst there are a number of decent tools that work well, we haven't found any comprehensive, integrated tools that are scoped across the IT organisation's development and support loop. Well, there are quite a few, but they will cost you a bucket.

One of our objectives here at QualityHelp is to slice open and expose our tools and infrastructure, so we can see and understand the components and methods. That's what Process Management is all about.

Whilst many small businesses on shoe-string budgets build electronic record systems in MS Excel, there is a limit to the capability of this very useful tool.  Microsoft Access provides a greater level of functionallity and control over a wide range of data tables and functions, with greater easer than Excel.

Merge Quality Assurance and Document Management Teams

Larger IT companies provide a number of services and functions within the Document Management team, including technical writing, catalogue / document / record management, document control and reporting. The large numbers of documents and records managed, along with the high demand for technical writing and document support usually justifiies a separate, specialist team.

In mid-size to small business there is a strong argument to combine the functions (and teams / staff) based on the overlapping functions and processes in the Document Lifecycle. A well-disciplined lifecycle for document management should be completely in tuned with a company's policies and standards for achieving Quality Assurance objectives. Hence Document Control practices should be aligned with whatever Internal Audits processes or assessments are in place to ensure compliance to agreed standards (for both the Quality Management System and Documentation Standards).

Creating Restricted Catalogue Zones

We started a series of recent articles on integrating a Document Catalogue with Document Control.  Our Catalogue model might look simplistic, but Drupal provides a number of modules and methods to extend the functionality to cover the needs of most small to medium businesses. In the real world, public access to most of the Catalogue would be severely limited.  Ours is open for the purposes of training and discussion. But how would we restrict access to documents with Drupal?  How could we customize the Catalogue to limit access to documents, and even sub-catalogues based on user profiles?

One solution lies with the Drupal Content Access module, which provides methods for restricting user access to certain types of Drupal Content, based on content specific or user type rules.

Migrating a Site Index to the DCS Catalogue

With our new document control system in place, the best way to demonstrate its use and versatility is to populate the catalogue for practical purposes.  Note that the DCS and Catalogue are intended to be a working, training model, and may  be adapted in other ways with more rigorous requirements in other working situations.

As mentioned in our March Newsletter, we intend to systematically migrate existing site documents from the current registers and indexes into the new catalogue format.  For this discussion, we will register all our NewsCorner objects into a single catalogue.  These currently are listed (rather feebly) in an index table under our Publications Menu.

Recent News

update: Project Registers Moved

If you haven't already noticed, we've moved the Project Register out of the Navigation Menu, along with the related Tasks and Issues Registers. These registers served their purpose at the time, but now lack the power and functionality to keep up with our increasing activities.  Users and members can find them on the Main menu (under Projects).

We'll update you soon on the new Management Information System we are building in Microsoft Access.

update: Download Document Reports

We've now added an option to download and report on all Catalogue documents, using the Views Excel Export module from Drupal. We looked at a few options, but found this the cleanest technique to download a full or partial catalogue extract to a MS Excel spreadsheet.

news: New HealthTracker Release

We've been working hard to keep enhancing the HealthTracker tool, and have released a new version for the start of April. Version 6a (and the USA Version 6b) now contain a new section and control chart for tracking waist measurement (in different units).

update: HealthTracker Project Catalogue

Using our Document Control framework for cataloging records and documents of all forms, it made sense to track the various templates, records and guides for our HealthTracker project. HealthTracker dashboards are also included for participants in the project, although these use the secRecord control record type, and are only visible in the catalogue when users sign-on.

news: Internal Management Catalogue

We've now created a model for a restricted access Management Catalogue. Because we've used our Internal secRecord for the Document Control System records, this catalogue and it's sub-catalogue entries would not be visible to general users.  For the sake of demonstrating our model, that means only authenicated users and members can see the Management Catalogue.

Below is an example of the Management Catalogue and the typical team entries we have added to the initial baseline:

update: Catalogue Document Search

With the new Catalogue being populated at a steady pace, we thought it was time to provide a cross-section View to facilitate document and record tracking. We found this difficult to do with the View / QuickTabs combo used in our standard catalogue structure (ie. propagating a scope / sort change in one Tab across all Tabs of the catalogue.

Quality Help Community - Overview

The Quality Help Community is a collaborative network of IT professionals with an interest in Quality Management and Quality Assurance based solutions in the IT industry. With collective participation, we hope to demystify Quality Management and it's effective application within the IT services and support industries.

 Our Vision at QualityHelp is to guide IT support folk in the principles and value of quality management through team involvement and sharing.

 

Site maintained by the QualityHelp Community