15 Questions to Ask QMS Software Vendors in the Medical Device Industry

June 25, 2023

15 Questions to Ask QMS Software Vendors in the Medical Device Industry

As a medical device company, you are expected to deliver innovative, life-changing medical device(s) while ensuring compliance and achieving true quality. This task bears loads of responsibility - all which must be kept and documented within your quality management system.

A quality management system (QMS) contains everything that internal teams, partners, and regulators alike need to know in order to get a product to market and achieve its intended purpose of delivering better outcomes to clinicians and patients. The choices you make around the QMS you decide to implement will resonate throughout your product’s lifecycle.

In an increasingly digital world, medical device professionals find themselves bearing the burden of paper-based systems when they could be automating their processes with a purpose-built software solution. 

As a medical device professional yourself, you have either realized the benefits of a software solution or been tasked with, advised, or ordered to find one. To put it lightly, selecting the wrong solution could jeopardize the success of your company, leaving your team frustrated with re-work, prolonged project timelines, and failure to maintain compliance.

Along the way of researching potential solutions, you find yourself in various conversations with vendors who spitball everything you need to know about their software. Before you can digest all the information, they ask “Do you have any questions for us?” 

As you stare blankly at the long list of notes that you have been taking and items begin blurring together, and you say, “Not at this moment - no.”

In order to avoid this scenario and help prepare yourself to ask prospective vendors the right questions, we have come up with fifteen questions medical device companies should ask quality management software vendors.

Asking these questions will uncover the necessary information needed to make the best decision for your company and adopt a turn-key software solution that gets devices to market faster while acting as a single source of truth for your product development and quality activities.

FREE EBOOK: Click here to download your PDF copy of the 15 Questions to Ask QMS Software Vendors in the Medical Device Industry.

1. Is the QMS software purpose-built specifically for medical devices?

As you begin your search for the right QMS software, you will familiarize yourself with the numerous software solutions that claim to get the job done but may not be built specifically for your needs.

General-purpose tools or QMS solutions sold into a broad number of industries fall into this category for medical device companies. Although they seem to be a potential fit initially, there are major burdens and hidden costs of implementing and validating these types of solutions.

In addition to increased costs and prolonged implementation and validation times, these systems lack the built-in controls for FDA 21 CFR Part 820 and ISO 13485:2016 and additional guardrails that purpose-built solutions provide. Choosing a solution that has industry-specific knowledge built into the system will provide your team with necessary guardrails while supporting the long-term health of your QMS. 

While researching potential solutions for your company, it is important to know:

  • What industry the solution was first intended for
  • What types of companies are using the solution
  • And what percentage of the software provider’s customer-base are medical device companies. 

Narrowing your search to purpose-built solutions for medical device companies will save your team time and resources throughout their quest, and ultimately help them make the best, informed decision for a system that truly meets your needs as a medical device company.

2. Does the QMS software align with all major medical device industry standards and market regulations?

The regulations put in place for medical device companies are understandably stringent to ensure that medical devices on the market are safe and effective. 

Keep in mind that your QMS plays a large part in complying with these standards and regulations. Failure to comply or keep up with changes in the regulations can leave you stuck with time-consuming re-work and added expenses for remediation efforts. 

A key marker of operational excellence and efficiency for medical device companies is how well they are prepared to face unannounced audits and pending regulatory changes. For many companies, this is a major concern of theirs. 

Noncompliance can be a large roadblock in your device’s lifecycle - and a costly burden. One of the most commonly cited triggers for a 483 observation from the FDA is failure to comply with CAPA, along with issues around complaint records, process validation, design validation, and nonconformances.

It is important to adopt a software solution that aligns with major medical device industry regulations and standards like: 

  • 21 CFR Part 820
  • FDA's Part 11 and EU's Annex 11
  • ISO 13485:2016
  • ISO 14971:2019
  • EU MDR

By implementing a QMS solution that aligns with these standards, your company will become audit-ready, and maintain market competitiveness by staying ahead of regulatory changes.


3. Is the QMS software robust enough to meet the needs of a scaling and mature company?

Medical device companies often start with a very small idea: a device that works as a solution to an existing problem. But as the idea matures into a fully-formed technology, it grows into a purpose to improve the quality of life for patients and providers.

In the same way, as your company grows, you may face obstacles that come with scaling a business — from an increase in audits to establishing more compliance measurements. So, when you’re choosing a QMS solution, it’s vital you’re vetting the provider’s ability to grow with you.

By providing scalability, process efficiency, risk mitigation, and opportunities for continuous improvement, a robust QMS solution empowers organizations to navigate challenges, ensure compliance, and build a foundation for sustainable growth. 

Investing in the right QMS solution is a strategic decision that not only addresses immediate quality management needs but also sets the stage for future success in an evolving business landscape.

4. Are there purpose-built capabilities for managing Design Controls and Risk Management that are fully integrated in the QMS software?

Design controls and risk management are vital to one another throughout the production and lifecycle of a medical device. Many will fail to recognize the close connection between the two and create separate processes for managing both. 

These companies fall behind by spending hours on managing documents, conducting design reviews, and retro-actively mitigating risk. 

By adopting a software solution that has built-in capabilities for integrating design controls and risk, your team can visualize in real-time the relationships between individual design controls and associated risks.

For medical device companies offering SaMD solutions or physical devices with software components, confirm that the QMS solution you are evaluating includes a turn-key integration between design controls and their ALM of choice, such as JIRA, that comes validated and is Part 11 compliant. 

When this is combined with  purpose-built AI capabilities, your team gains visibility into your devices design control traceability, risk mitigation, and a streamlined approach to planning, conducting, and documenting design reviews as changes occur. 

That’s why Greenlight Guru’s Risk Intelligence empowers MedTech teams to be more effective, efficient, and confident in managing risk for their device(s), and their business. 

The novel AI and advanced statistical modeling to deliver tailored insights on device hazards, patient harms, and the respective probabilities based on the occurrence of real-world adverse event data. Manage some of the most critical components of medical device development with confidence and efficiency and leave the fear of managing risk in the past.  

Using a QMS software that integrates design controls and risk management ensures that your company will: 

  • Improve product quality and speed to market.
  • Align design controls with the business process.
  • Mitigate risk throughout the design phase and device lifecycle. 
  • Establish a foundation for demonstrating closed-loop traceability between design, risk, and post-market surveillance activities.
  • Support a culture of true quality.

Companies that have adopted this modern approach for their QMS find themselves saving hundreds of hours per year by using a purpose-built system that integrates design controls and risk with post-market quality events for full traceability of their design and risk processes.

5. Are there turn-key workflows for all major quality events available in the QMS software?

Quality events such as CAPA, Nonconformance, Audit, and Customer Feedback are vital to maintaining and advancing the quality of your device, all while controlling risk and maintaining compliance. 

Having turn-key, best practice workflows for each of these quality events will streamline your teams’ efforts for each: 

  • CAPA: Your QMS should allow you to streamline the CAPA process and easily trace them back to their root cause. This will help your team mitigate patient and business risk, while maintaining traceability to any course or event that triggered the need for a CAPA.
  • Change Management / Change Orders: Identify, assess, and track change, while ensuring that documents and records are reviewed and approved through traceable Change Management workflows. This will help your team track the effectiveness of change activities and assure full traceability within a single source of truth. 
  • Nonconformance: A nonconformance workflow will enable teams with the tools to easily capture defect details, assess risk, and collaborate with the right team members or suppliers to quickly resolve the issue. 
  • Audit: With an out-of-the-box audit workflow, teams can jump right in to effectively controlling and conducting internal, external, or supplier audits. 
  • Customer Feedback: Having a robust Customer Feedback workflow supports your team in capturing both customer complaints and product feedback that are incorporated back into your device’s design.

6. Does the QMS software tie post-market surveillance activities back to design controls and risk in order to achieve closed-loop traceability?

The medical device industry is moving towards closed-loop traceability (CLT) throughout the total product lifecycle.

Closed-loop traceability is the ability to connect people, processes, and data seamlessly across the value chain. Example: product-related complaints or nonconformances can be traced back to specific design control elements, CAPAs, audits, or change orders they are associated with.

When adopting a software solution, you want to assure that it has the capability of automating and streamlining processes to ensure a closed-loop quality system with full traceability between your design and development activities and post-market surveillance activities, while also allowing you to effectively manage quality events that occur throughout the product life cycle. 

With a closed-loop quality system, you will gain visibility into your quality processes to understand how they impact one another. This enables a proactive approach to assessing and identifying issues before they become systemic.

If your device’s risk is impacted by a post-market quality event, traceability is key for identifying the root cause. A closed-loop system allows you to connect those processes for updating your Risk Management File to ensure you are delivering a safe and effective product while assuring that both design and development and quality processes are all risk-based and in alignment with ISO 14971:2019.

Being able to demonstrate CLT is one of the best tactics for companies when it comes to ensuring quality and proving compliance. Those that can demonstrate CLT are far more likely to feel confident and perform well in audits. 

Ask your vendor how their solution enables their customers to tie all major medical device quality events back to design and risk activities and achieve closed-loop traceability.

7. Can the QMS software help my team achieve a truly paperless audit?

Managing, sorting, routing, and printing piles of papers from your QMS is a method of the past. The purpose of going digital is to avoid these scenarios and streamline your audit activities - while avoiding the conundrum of paper. 

Adopting a cloud-based software solution will transition your team from a paper-based system into a robust document management workspace that supports a high volume of documents. 

This will enable your team to work collectively in the system to organize and share relevant documentation and prepare for upcoming audits. 

The QMS software solution you elect to go with should also have built-in capabilities and workflows that allow your audit team to stay ready, by keeping up-to-date procedures and records at your fingertips. 

When it comes time for your audit you can seamlessly work within your QMS to present the information to your auditor with ease. 

Do not hesitate to ask your vendor for success stories about their customers achieving paperless FDA, ISO or MDSAP audits using their software solution. 

Success Story

After adopting Greenlight Guru’s medical device QMS, Tonia Bryant, Director of Quality and Regulatory Affairs at Lucerno Dynamics, shares that preparing for audits is now a much more efficient process, allowing her to dedicate more time to strategic efforts.

Instead of taking days or weeks to prepare with a paper-based system, Tonia spent only a few hours preparing for their ISO Stage II audit and now has more time for strategic efforts.


Walking into the audit, all she needed was her laptop and a notepad. Tonia and her team at Lucerno are now able to identify, display, and share information digitally with their auditors.

In addition to achieving ISO 13485:2016 certification, this newfound efficiency will be critical in helping Tonia assure the QMS can support Lucerno's plan to grow into new international markets.

Read the Lucerno Dynamics case study to learn more →

8. Does the QMS vendor have people with medical device industry experience that will be responsible for supporting my team?

Choosing a software provider is more than just that. It is choosing a partner and establishing a trusted business relationship. When you view your relationship with your software provider as a partnership, and not so much a transactional relationship, you will see endless benefits. 

When analyzing software solutions it is important to know who is responsible for supporting your team throughout the implementation and continued use of the software, as well as their experience in the medical device industry. Depending on your own experience and knowledge, these industry experts can work as an extension to your team. 

It is good to ask questions like:

  • Have you designed and/or launched medical devices? 
  • Have you managed quality systems for medical device companies actively selling devices?
  • Have you experienced an FDA or Notified Body audit firsthand? Do you have experience in conducting audits?
  • Do you thoroughly understand ISO, FDA, and EU MDR regulations?
  • This will help you get a better feel for the scope of advice and additional services that the software provider can offer. 

Companies will truly benefit from selecting a QMS software provider that has a team that has experience working in the medical device industry that can help guide system implementation,  stay up to date on best practices, and navigate pending regulatory changes.


9. How quickly can the QMS software be implemented?

Software implementation can unknowingly consume a lot of time and energy after selecting the right partner for your company. That is why it is important to consider the total costs of implementing a software solution. 

For those that elect to go with customizable solutions, it can MONTHS or YEARS to get those workflows correct and validated. For other solutions, the system’s lack of intuitiveness may prolong onboarding timelines and require additional training. 

Think about and ask software providers about the effort required to get started using the software and the average time-to-value for new customers. Knowing that software validation, onboarding/training, and other tedious details throughout implementation can be both time consuming and costly, it is fair to ask them how quickly your team can be up and running in the system. 

Another thing to consider is the team behind the software:

  • Who will be training you on using the system? 
  • How knowledgeable are they about the regulations and using a QMS? 
  • Will they understand how the ISO 14971 standard for risk applies to your devices?

Other additional resources they may be able to provide are QMS SOPs and templates that are audit-proven across FDA, ISO, and MDSAP audit requirements. Although these may not be a necessity for your company, these offerings are beneficial to those looking to get their system up and running quickly with any necessary guidance, rather than starting from scratch. 

Having experienced medical device professionals as your onboarding and support team can help you better understand how to use and leverage the system to your team’s advantage. 

As an out-of-the-box solution that comes with validation protocols and audit-proven SOPs, templates, and more, Greenlight Guru customers can be up and running with an audit-ready QMS in 30-45 days.


10. Will the QMS software help me be proactive and stay ahead of regulatory changes?

Knowing industry best practices is one thing, but adopting them and actively staying ahead of the industry is another. 

Many regulatory changes coming in the near future are making these best practices a requirement for medical device companies. EU MDR is merely the tip of the iceberg in needing to demonstrate closed-loop traceability throughout the product lifecycle.

Ask your software vendor if their system and workflows not only align with current compliance requirements, but if they stay ahead of them by implementing industry best practices as regulation changes occur. This will enable your company to stay ahead of these changes and maintain or advance your market competitiveness. 

As mentioned before, it is also a benefit to know the face behind the screen. Knowing the industry experience and knowledge of those who develop the software is an added plus for your company’s peace of mind that the software is compliant with industry standards and following industry best practices. 

Ask the software vendor if they are dedicated to keeping the software up-to-date and in compliance with changing regulations as part of your decision if they are a good fit solution for your company.


11. Am I going to have access to reliable, high-quality data from the QMS software?

In an increasingly digital world, data has become a cornerstone of operational success for medical device companies. Gaining visibility into your quality system with accessible data enables teams to measure efficiencies, business decision-making, and more. 

That being said, it is vital that the solution chosen is going to give you the reliable data insights to the health and strategic positioning of your company, your device’s quality, and the processes in place.

The ability to make data-driven decisions within your company will advance your team's capability to make informed decisions and work efficiently and effectively, while also giving you a leg-up against your competitors.

What MedTech companies need is a cloud-based QMS software that is a connected source of truth and allows you to manage multiple processes in a single system, all while being equipped to access and share that data with other tools you use. 

That is why Greenlight Guru offers customers both an Export API along with the ability to download your specific  QMS workspace datasets as CSV files. Gone are the days of manual data entry, repetitive, error-prone work, and a lack of cross-functional visibility. You can now unlock the full power of your QMS data across the product lifecycle with Greenlight Guru.

12. Is ongoing software validation included with the QMS software at no additional cost?

When adopting a software solution, it is important to consider the ongoing effort and costs associated with maintaining your QMS over time. One of the most notable ongoing costs of QMS software solutions is the time, money, and effort required to validate the software to 21 CFR Part 11 requirements.  

Many software solutions that allow customization or configuration of their system’s workflows, require re-validation and additional configuration when the software is updated or modified.  It is important to ask what, if any, incremental costs are associated with software validation. These costs and time spent on re-validating can add up over time if the software provider is regularly updating and releasing new functionalities.

If you elect to go with a software provider that is dedicated to continually improving and updating their platform to meet the needs of medical device professionals, it is important to know what the standard protocol is when your vendor launches a new release of the software. Most importantly, you should know how validation should be handled and if they include a software validation package with the new release.

The ideal scenario would be to adopt a QMS software solution that includes a validation protocol package at no extra cost to your company for each new release of the software.

With an out-of-the-box solution that includes a software validation package, companies do not have to worry about validation becoming a large cost center for them and their teams can spend their time on more value-added activities.

13. Is the QMS software application built with a secure, modern architecture?

Knowing the type of software architecture will help you better understand how your software is deployed, updated, maintained, and kept secure. 

A secure, modern software application is typically built with a multi-tenant, cloud-based architecture.

Using software solutions built on a multi-tenant, cloud-native architecture is vital to ensuring that you are adopting a system that follows modern best practices for application architecture, data storage, backup, encryption, and provides high availability that can serve end users globally.  

These solutions also positively influence the effort and costs associated with validating the system to 21 CFR Part 11 requirements, which in turn impacts the total cost of ownership (TCO) associated with the solution.

According to LNS Research, the real difference maker is multi-tenant cloud offerings:

Cloud-based technologies create new opportunities to streamline validation. Through Cloud, industry leading vendors are providing pre-validated platforms, pre-validated functions, and pre-validated pre-configurations. There are several vendors that have invested in developing near-zero effort or even true no-effort validation environments. One approach comes from a multi-tenant SaaS (Software as a Service) platform that pre-validates its platform and completely avoids customizations and configurations through options management. Every customer is automatically validated to every update.

In addition to the benefits associated with system scalability, data security, and validation, solution providers with multi-tenant cloud applications are more likely to demonstrate a “Cloud Native” mindset that allows them to deliver new software capabilities at a rapid pace and innovate faster than QMS solution providers with single-tenant solution offerings.

14. What kind of medical device industry training and educational resources does the QMS vendor offer?

The best QMS solutions are more than just a tool — they are a hub for continuous improvement within your organization. One of the best ways to do so is with training material, such as online learning and certifications. Another way is by providing you easy access to customer support channels where your team can turn to for answers when they need them most.

That’s why we built Greenlight Guru Academy, the premier learning destination for MedTech professionals. With over 300 thoughtfully curated courses, designed by top industry leaders, Greenlight Guru Academy provides an opportunity for all learners to advance their skill sets with accessible industry knowledge and self-paced models. 

The best part? These courses are taught by MedTech experts, and many of our instructors have helped write today’s MedTech regulations. 

Greenlight Guru also has 24/7 customer support, as well as on-demand access to our Guru Advisory services. You can partner with our Gurus who help you efficiently navigate medical device regulations, reduce risk, and prepare for successful launch and audits, no matter where you are in your commercialization journey.

15. What is the return on investment (ROI) of the QMS software solution?

The implementation of a QMS is key to the success of a medical device company and the speed at which it can operate. However, success can be more difficult to achieve with a paper-based QMS or generic tools, which 1 in 3 MedTech professionals say they use for essential activities like documentation, product development, compliance, and training. 

This approach creates inefficiencies and increases the risk of non-compliance. As a result, about a third of medical device industry professionals say they are not well equipped to meet quality and product development standards. 

In an independent study by Hobson & Company, research showed that companies can experience significant increases in speed and efficiency, along with a reduction in risk, by implementing modern solutions like Greenlight Guru’s eQMS.

In fact, they also found that a three-year investment in Greenlight Guru’s eQMS solution can generate positive cash flows in just 2.7 months and a potential return on investment of 300-500%.

In addition, the study revealed an array of positive impacts for medical device companies implementing an eQMS solution, including: 

  • 75% reduction in time needed to set up a quality management system
  • 50% reduction in time spent on development and design documentation
  • 50% reduction in time spent preparing for audits
  • 75% reduction in QA/RA FTE time spent on mandatory training
  • 35% reduction in the number of labor hours needed per recall/return/adverse event

To find out the potential ROI of choosing an eQMS solution, check out Greenlight Guru’s new Value Calculator to get a free, customizable report.

FREE EBOOK: Click here to download your PDF copy of the 15 Questions to Ask QMS Software Vendors in the Medical Device Industry.

Learn more about Greenlight Guru’s QMS software for medical devices

As the only modern medical device QMS software solution built specifically for the needs of medical device professionals, Greenlight Guru stands the test of helping companies establish a foundation for quality that helps their businesses grow and succeed.

As you consider the different approaches to medical device QMS solutions, be sure to evaluate and ask software vendors these fifteen questions in order to identify the right solution that will set your company up for success.

In the meantime, schedule a demo to learn how Greenlight Guru’s enterprise QMS software enables companies to:

  • Achieve True Quality — Understand how Greenlight Guru helps medical device companies establish a foundation for quality that advances their company throughout the lifecycle of their device.
  • Deliver Safe Medical Devices to Market Faster — Bring quality medical devices to market in less time, for less money, while ensuring compliance and promoting transparency across the entire process.
  • Advance the Quality of Your Medical Devices and Control Risk — Stay ahead of regulatory changes by integrating risk and using quality as your multiplier to grow your business.
  • Embrace Industry Best Practices — Stay in compliance with industry-specific regulations by utilizing workflows aligned to FDA and ISO standards for medical device predefined processes.
  • Achieve Closed-Loop Traceability — Gain visibility into your QMS with full traceability between your design and development activities and post-market surveillance activities.
  • Be Audit-ready — Simplify audit preparation efforts and become a continuously audit ready organization. Achieve paperless audits by streamlining and tracing documentation to share with auditors in a single click.

Looking for an all-in-one enterprise QMS solution to advance the success of your in-market devices and integrate your company's quality processes with product development efforts?

Click here to take a quick tour of Greenlight Guru's Medical Device QMS software →

Etienne Nichols is a Medical Device Guru and Mechanical Engineer who loves learning and teaching how systems work together. He has both manufacturing and product development experience, even aiding in the development of combination drug-delivery devices, from startup to Fortune 500 companies and holds a Project...

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