Blog Archive

If you want to know how to conduct a trial of The Lean Machine, and make a good decision about how well it might meet your QMS needs, both tomorrow and next year, there are only two simple steps you need to take.

1. The first step is to familiarize yourself enough with what it does and how it works so you can log in and move around, create new records, etc.

2. The second step is to use this familiarity to go exploring for something you know need, but don’t see as a feature…and let us know about it.

That’s right, we actually want you to try and find something you need that isn’t there.  You don’t have to find everything you might ever need the software to do differently, especially since you probably don’t know what that is.  Just find one thing and let us know what that is, and why.

The reason you should do this is to test the update process, our customer service, and what it is like to be part of the “continuous improvement health club” that a TLM customer enjoys all the time.  In other words, we think you should test how we handle the process of change, because if we are good at that, then the rest will work itself out.

This is a much different experience than feeling stuck with a purchase that doesn’t meet your needs, and kicking yourself for not having the time to research every possible detail, which nobody really has the time for anyway.

The best part of this capability is when you are familiar enough with the software to connect it’s potential with your specific processes, then we can collaborate on making The Lean Machine effective in ways you probably didn’t realize there was an opportunity for.

After all, continuous improvement is the fun part, right?

We have prepared some videos to guide you through these two steps.

This first video demonstrates how to go about exploring each module and some of the common conventions and systems that all modules use that can play a role in customization or configuration.

The next set of videos demonstrate how we have been able to collaborate with our customers in the past to use The Lean Machine as a tool that helped them solve a variety of quality system issues they encountered to give you an idea of our continuous improvement capabilities.

Here is list of some of the issues we have addressed in the past through rapid updates.

    1.  “As a medical device company our documents are often related to several other areas of the business. Can you help us figure out a way to ensure our engineers remember to consider all the issues relevant to a document release before they submit it for approval?”

    1. “We have an existing QMS with almost 5000 documents, is there an easy way to get this information into your system?”

    1. “We would love to see an easy way to maintain training requirements that is mostly automated.  Can we just assign employees to departments, and documents to departments and when they intersect, that person is automatically added to the training list so they have to sign off on a new revision when it’s released?”

    1. “I used to manually create this Excel based report for management meetings that produced a bar chart summary of vendor performance over a 5 quarter period.  Do you think you could re-create a report like that?”

  1. “I have a lot of documents that are due to review, but after review, they don’t need to be changed.  Is there an easy way to record the review without having to go through the whole review and approval process again?”

Your quality system has the potential to generate hundreds or even thousands of records in the various modules you use, whether that just document control, or any of the other systems that cover the full range of requirements from an ISO 9001 type of QMS standard.

As a result, you need all the help you can get to find what you need to work on, which is sometimes going back and fixing something you just realized was not complete.

The current version of The Lean Machine now has a screen that tracks where you’ve been during a work session, and allows you to go back to that record and screen, or mark it as a “favorite” since you know you will need to find it for the rest of the week it will take you to complete that task.

The video below demonstrates how this feature works.

The Lean Machine is affordable, Quality Management Software and Document Management Software with quality compliance modules for ISO13485, ISO9000, and Lean Manufacturing with material management and QuickBooks integration at an affordable price.

Here’s what one of our customers had to say….

Most of our customers embed their documents, as this gives TLM full control over user access, and everything can be backed up when Navicat runs a back up of the MySQL database.

However, if you are working on a document that is going to require a lot of collaboration during the optional review phase of the document release process, it might be a good idea to link it until it is ready to release.

While it takes a couple extra clicks to set up the linked document, this provides the best of both worlds in that linking for the editing process has the most flexibility, and linking often results in better performance.

Embedding the released document will then provide easy distribution, controlled access, and includes the document in the MySQL database backups.

This tutorial demonstrates these features in more detail.

I was invited to the University of San Francisco to be a guest industry coach in Professor Xiaohua Yang’s undergraduate International Negotiation class on November 9, 2012.


What was particularly striking about the experience was the quality of thinking that was being displayed by the USF students, as they grappled with the nuances of having to identify their team’s priorities and communicate them in such a way as to move the understanding of needs from both parties to a mutually beneficial conclusion.

It was also a chance to revisit that time in life between being a student, and being a permanent member of the work force.  With the economy showing some signs of steady recovery, but still being a tough place to find a job, the seniors in this group were feeling the pressure of this transition.

It occurred to me that I could probably use some interns, and if they understood what the modules within The Lean Machine did for a business, they would be getting some valuable experience in many business areas any “good employee” should know.

Most companies struggle with getting good QMS habits transferred from the quality professional into the work force, as it is only when the work force adopts those habits and understands where they fit into the quality system does the quality system actually have the desired effect in terms of risk management, waste reduction, and continuous improvement.

What if your new employee already came equipped with a solid understanding of why it was important to follow controlled procedures, or why supporting and contributing to internal audits or corrective actions was all related to the bigger picture of short cycle continuous improvement and a company’s need to identify risk and eliminate waste?

As a former military officer, these skills strike me as being parallel to what every new recruit needs to know to be considered a soldier.  Regardless of what role you have in a company, the quality system should be a set of basic activities everybody understands and knows how to perform.   As any decent quality system consultant will tell you, “it’s not a Quality systsem, think of it like a Business system.”

We have already taken on our first two interns.  You can download the LMBS job description for the internship program here.

Writen by David Smithstein, CEO

If you’re the type whose desk is covered in post-it notes and scribbled notes on scraps of paper, you probably have a lot to gain from optimizing your task or project management with software solutions. The Lean Machine’s Event module acts as a series of to-do lists, each of which can be linked to other modules for easy collaboration or used as a standalone project management tool.

Gantt charting is now being added in order to fulfill the reporting needs of more robust projects and the status reporting they usually entail.

Get rid of that coffee-stained desk calendar and stop working so hard when you could be working smarter and saving time and money for your employees. The event module allows you to link events to controlled documents, agenda items, and strategic planning projects. You can also schedule reoccurring events with the Outlook-friendly interface, and easily transfer records via attached external files.

No matter how many individual tasks each scheduled event entails, The Lean Machine’s event module will help you see the bigger picture and work through multiple events simultaneously, ensuring that business is done in a timely and efficient manner.

Organizations sometimes end up spending more than budgeted for document management software. You might wonder how this occurs. The answer is simple. An organization looks at different solutions and looks at the key features offered within the software. However, not all software providers are upfront, so some of these key features can be add-ons and upgrades that are only provided at an additional cost. After the company selects a provider and gets the software installed is when they discover certain features are not working. It is then that they learn that there are additional charges necessary to have those features enabled. Since they have already invested in the software, they end up shelling out more money to get the software to work in the way that they need it to function.

Ask Questions before Investing in Document Management Software

Before you invest in document management software, you need to make sure you obtain accurate information from the software provider. Some key questions you need to ask are which features are included and which ones are upgrades. You also need to find out about cross-compatibility with other systems and adding on other solutions in the future. Again, some providers charge a la carte, which means that you have to pay for any type of future upgrades, while other providers include all the needed modules upfront, without any additional costs. It is up to you at that point to decide if and when you want to start using the other modules.

It can be tricky for small businesses to get the leg up they need in order to swim in a bigger pond; there are numerous pitfalls that need to be avoided, and many businesses crumble under the weight of disorganization and incompatible management systems.

However, paying too much for a bulky software suite that doesn’t meet your company’s specific needs can be just as crippling as an outdated management module or incompatible systems. Many businesses waste hundreds of thousands of dollars on software that is difficult to implement and ends up not making the day to day processes of doing business any easier than before. This is where The Lean Machine stands apart; the ‘lean’ implementation of ISO requirements is designed to relieve the burden of commercial activity, not add to it. TLM acts as a platform to allow businesses to efficiently meet standards and requirements without compromising continuous improvement or ease of growth, and pricing is case specific so as to never present an obstacle to implementation.

Invoking the terms “ISO 9001” or “13485” is enough to give many business owners a splitting headache brought on by horror stories of compliance issues, failed audits, and a stressful implementation process. Most of the time, however, these businesses could’ve avoided the headaches and the stress by streamlining their business model with a process based software suite like The Lean Machine.

ISO regulations aren’t meant to destroy your company, they’re meant to ensure quality business practices and interactions up to an international level; this is a good thing, and while implementation can seem daunting they don’t need to be. Essentially, The Lean Machine software works to make sure ISO regulations do what they’re supposed to do for your company, while actually helping to improve the day to day processes of doing business in your field. Most companies would benefit from integrated software solutions, why not choose the one with 100% ISO certification success for twelve years running at a price that is not an obstacle to implementation?

There are a multitude of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) modules available to business owners today, and most are little more than glorified email inboxes. A good CRM module needs to be versatile, and allow for easy communication between customers, vendors, and partners of the company it’s working for. Poor customer relationship management can lead to erroneous records, duplicate information, and missing documents that can damage the mutually beneficial nature of a business transaction for all parties.

The CRM module is central to The Lean Machine’s potential to greatly optimize your business relationships; it allows you to easily link customers and vendors to important audits and reports pertaining to their product or service, and provides you with the tools to build an Action Plan specific to any company you conduct business with. You can also merge records without having to waste man hours entering information line by line, and find company contacts by first name, last name, or any other information pertaining to the business relationship.


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