by John Davis

(adapted, with permission, from the pamphlet "Air Force SBIR, and Opportunity")

One of the many companies that trace their very existence to and blame their current success squarely on the SBIR Program is Quality Decision Management of North Andover, MA. They are also one of the many companies that has successfully entered the SBIR Program without a better widget or rocket science technology, just a better idea for how to get things done.

The Air Force had a need for their design teams to share information, assess trade-off decisions and work together more effectively. Of course, this requirement is not unique to the Air Force or even the Government marketplace. An entrepreneur in Massachusetts recognized a potential world wide market for any tools that could make a difference here. So he responded with an idea, won the SBIR and QDM was born.

The idea? QDM proposed to integrate some already existing and proven management methodologies into an innovative software configuration that would improve the quality and productivity of team projects through greater teamwork and collaboration. QDM's President, Andy Jeffrey, said "We don't believe that the average executive should be required to understand how and why software technology helps make the job easier -- it should simply work." Today, this technology is being used in the Air Force to manage dozens of technology improvements and insertion projects in parallel, facilitating the input of experts from the flight line to the headquarters staff. It is also being used as a basic tool in implementing a Total Quality Management (TQM) program.

Shortly after entering Phase II of the Program, QDM's SBIR efforts led to spin-off production of their first commercial product, Quality At Work®, which is described as software for workgroup coordination & project management. This product is now used worldwide to manage the work of teams of people in both small family-owned businesses and giant industrial companies as diverse as AT&T;, McDonalds (fast food), ABB (construction engineering), the U.S. General Services Administration and even the government of Australia. Dorothy Rhodes, QDM's COO, says that the company teamed with software giant Lotus Development Corporation to develop a suite of business applications based on Lotus Notes® to provide work flow technology and work management tools. She says that "without the SBIR program, this $2 Million company would not exist". And, they did it all without "rocket science", just a better idea from which both government and industry will reap long term benefits.

© JADE Research Corporation, 1996

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"SBIR Resources" mean "SBIR Success"