Data management: from Spreadsheets to Workflow management system


A global automotive supplier of electronic products. In 2009 the company had with more than 1000 software, hardware and mechanical engineers all over the world. The compliance to industry standards (Automotive SPICE, CMMI, TÜV) was ensured by a strong internal standards and processes.


The process templates prepared by the Process Compliance team generates a list of spreadsheets to ensure the process tracking. Spreadsheets are good for data treatment but not always suitable for sharing and updating by a group of people, especially when stored under version control.

Instead workflow management system could be used for better item management and lighter reporting.


The non structured software development process expected the preparation of multiple artefacts with the goal to track the project status. All files were stored in Document Management Systems under version control.

The access to the documents was restricted to management roles. Action holders were not able to update the project status as part of their regular activities. It was not only responsible in project action lists, but also risk owners, component owners, etc.


A review of the standard development processes was performed with the goal to identify which artifacts was not suitable to be handled into the Document Management System. Those were live documents that needed to be updated daily rather than on event like plans and definitions.

Those documents were collection of individual items that had its own lifecycle such as: actions, risks, decisions, non conformance.

Some of the items have dependencies with other items such as: action that is waiting for another action; action plan that serves the management of a risk; action plan that serves the resolution of a non conformance.

The workflow of each item type was designed and implemented in the change management system currently used for change requests and bug tracking.


The effect was felt mostly on project management level:

  • The access issue was naturally resolved since all team members had already access to the change management system.
  • The project teams were able to update the status without the need of dedicated coordination through direct contact, phone calls or mail exchange.
  • Project artefacts were generated when needed and compliance reviews happened directly in the change management system.
  • The amount of files and file versions decreased significantly.

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