Cirris Replaces Paper-Based Systems with Digital QMS

After nearly nine years of working as an engineering test specialist for broadcast television, Gene Vought joined Cirris — a manufacturing company that builds cable and harness testing equipment for aerospace, military, automotive, and life sciences— as a repair serviceman in 1995. 

From there, he jumped to sales, became a custom design and manufacturing engineer, and then ultimately took on the role of Quality Manager in 2007.

“Documentation was a side job for me,” Gene says. “It just started to grow and eventually became full-time.”

In a recent episode of From Lab to Launch, Qualio CEO Robert Fenton chats with Gene about his journey to a career in quality, what Cirris does, the challenges that caused Cirris to look for a new enterprise quality management system (eQMS), how Qualio has transformed Cirris’ quality program, and how Gene’s recorded 400-odd songs in his home studio. 

Why is quality important?

The bulk of Cirris’ clients operate in the aerospace and military industries. To ensure the safety of pilots, passengers, and even astronauts, quality needs to take center stage.

“If you push a button for the landing gear, you want the landing gear to go down. You don’t want something else to happen — like missiles firing off,” Gene says.

Suffice it to say that when the stakes are this high, quality can never be an afterthought.

The need for a modern eQMS

Cirris was founded in a garage. To keep costs down, the founder designed his own software to manage their day-to-day, building several different programs to manage various business functions. 

When it came to quality management, this homegrown system presented a lot of challenges. Not only were different programs unable to communicate with each other, it was next to impossible to track changes and preserve a trustworthy audit trail. 

Employees would write updates down on paper, and many of those changes would not be properly documented or implemented.

This made preparing for an audit difficult at best.

To overcome these challenges and keep auditors happy, Cirris needed a new solution. They invested in Qualio, and Gene’s job got a whole lot easier.

“Now it takes days instead of months to get something approved through the system,” Gene says. “It’s a large weight that’s come off of my shoulders.”

What does it take to succeed in a quality career? 

“You’re almost a standalone person at the company at times,” Gene explains. “You have to be hard-shelled and persistent.”

For Gene, having a successful quality career starts with putting the customer first and understanding that’s who you’re going to bat for everyday. Your role is to make sure your company is doing things the right way to make sure that customers end up with great products, Gene says.

When companies don’t prioritize quality, bad things can happen — and quickly. 

“You go a few months without a quality manager keeping things up to date, and you feel it very quickly, and your company can suffer,” Gene says. “Sometimes, lives are at stake.”

Listen to the full episode to learn more about: 

  • The challenges Cirris faced before Qualio and how documentation in particular was a nightmare
  • How Cirris used Qualio to achieve AS9100 compliance
  • How Cirris was just acquired and how their parent company has been particularly impressed by Qualio and is interested in expanding its footprint across the organization 
  • How Qualio makes audits and compliance easy — even during the pandemic
  • Gene’s journey as a musician and what it’s like to have a recording studio next to your office

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