Maintaining Large HACCP Plans Cost-effectively
Hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) plans in complex organisations can contain hundreds of steps and associated risk assessments. Reviewing and keeping this information up to date is a huge and time-consuming task, often with multiple staff members involved. The addition of just one step can mean hours of updating documents.
Originally developed by NASA as a means of managing very complex processes for its space program, HACCP plans quickly morphed into simple paper-based documents for controlling food safety hazards. Today, though, they are employed to manage a variety of hazard groups: quality and/or identity preservation (eg, US, EU, organic, halal, kosher) in addition to food safety. Continual auditing by federal, state and overseas authorities and by their customers means many and continuous changes to HACCP plans for many companies.
In Australia and New Zealand, many large export meat and food processing companies already use InformationLeader for their data management, but this can become an even more powerful tool if users can manage their HACCP plans within the system. InformationLeader is an information management solution which allows organisations to electronically capture, analyse and centrally manage traditionally paper-based information without having to develop all new procedures.
The automatic coding, numbering and renumbering abilities of flowchart nodes is the time-saving feature: add a new step and the existing steps are renumbered, remove a step and the remaining steps are renumbered. Changes are automatically carried through to the Hazard Analysis Table and HACCP Audit Table, negating the need to do it manually.
A drag-and-drop flow chart is built within the HACCP Plan template. This feature creates flow charts directly in InformationLeader. This negates the need for a separate package or even Excel and Word to produce the flow chart. Linkage with other parts of the template means a change made at this level flows through directly.
In addition to the ease of making changes, the template design has removed the need to print out the document in order to use the information for reviews or audits. The flow chart has the potential to act as a portal for audits. Clicking directly to monitoring and verification data is possible because of links to documents and records within or even outside InformationLeader. Use on portable devices is also possible. The whole plan can be taken to the workstation without having to print out a document.
User access is controlled through permissions set up within the system. Permissions to view the HACCP plan or generate reports are controlled. Plans are version-controlled. Users can still view the ‘approved’ version while the plan is being updated.
While the focus is on removing the need for printing, the plan or parts of it can be presented in the format readers usually see. The standard reporting module makes this possible. An advantage of the tailoring ability with reporting is that specific reports can be supplied for specific users, eg, HACCP Audit Table with only Food Safety or HACCP Audit Table for Food Safety and Quality.
All changes are fully traceable and electronic internal or external approval requirements can be added.