Tag Archives: Management

How to move a Lab and not go CRAZY!

the getaway2014 has been an interesting year in the life of this QA Manager. This time last year, we were in a full court pressto prepare the lab to move into our new facility. As we ushered in the year, the facial twitch caused by transferring equipment, personnel, and systems was deeply present. Of course, moving a lab is not a new concept. It was, in no small scale, a big deal for our team.

I was reminded of that this week while searching for an email that I sent at the beginning of the year. Plenty of labs have relocated, mostly successfully.   But that doesn’t negate the fact that the project was extremely challenging. Specifically, the instrumentation that we employ could not simply be loaded onto the back of a pick-up truck. It took no less than a full day to prepare each instrument to move, another day to crate, forklift, and haul each instrument to the new lab, followed by two days of installation. The coordination involved in moving all four of our instruments could be a full discussion of choreography and agility. 

As I scrolled through my email traffic early 2014, one thing was apparent. As a team, we were on fire.

When we entered into the project, we had a strategy.   We had a schedule. We had a punch list. Most importantly, we made a commitment to stay agile. We new from the start that through all of the planning, the schedules, the punch lists, there would be surprises. There would be crises. How we reacted would be the key to our success or failure.

Continue reading How to move a Lab and not go CRAZY!

Promoting Quality In the Lab

I ran across this discussion on one of the LinkedIn groups that I partake in occasionally.  I’ve seen, andhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/ransomtech/5811447011/ on the question previously, but today, it triggered something greater in me.   Perhaps my current mood is a contributing factor, or the fact that I’m still recovering from a pretty long short week.  But the question got to me…

I’ve been irksome this week anyway, so I have to accept that my angst is probably attributed more to my personal challenge with this type of question.  In my bubble, I desire nothing more than to walk into the lab knowing that every single person in the building has an intimate knowledge of the “Standard” (ISO 17025, TNI, DoD QSM, whichever it may be).  Okay, maybe I also desire them to be as passionate about the various clauses that define our Systems as I am.  Such a passion for Quality would make our jobs darn near joyful, wouldn’t it?

The truth is, more often than not, the laboratory analyst’s working knowledge of  the standards that dictate quality is that of acquaintance.   I accepted this fact long ago.  So much so, that if I find an analyst that shows more interest than a slug when I step onto my QA Soap Box…  *Tag*  Start grooming him for the QA Department!

That’s a rare occurrence.  Not unheard of, but for the most part, I’m the Quality Assurance Manager for a reason…  My colleagues are more interested in doing science, than memorizing the ISO clause on the Management Review requirement (Admission:  I don’t have the citation memorized either, but I could turn to it in less than 2 minutes).  The sooner I can accept that, the better.  As such, the idea that a QA Manager would put much serious effort in training and evaluating the working knowledge of the technical staff puts a wrinkle in my forehead.

Broad stroke understandings… Yes I expect that from even the greenest analyst.  Understanding that every requirement is there for a reason.  We don’t do things in a willy nilly fashion.  There has to be consistency.  There has to be control.  I monitor, investigate, and stress out over “out-of-controlness.” That’s my job.  It is not so much their functional in destiny of the requirements that dictate our systems.  It’s about their big picture understanding, and their implementation of the systems.

Of course, my expectations of the leadership team are a bit more involved, but I still do not expect them to have the geektastic knowledge and understanding of the Standards.  These concepts do not excite the Supervisors, Technical Directors, and Lab Managers they way they do the QA Manager.   And that’s okay.

Albert Einstein once said:

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

I believe this whole heartedly.  I am an advocate for Quality in the Lab.  If my colleagues get one thing from me, I hope it is consistency in my message.

My advocacy of quality has, over the years, boiled down to a few mantras that address key concepts like documentation, traceability, and integrity.  Those concepts that I have not yet been able to distill into a Haiku, I explain using real world applications, rather than abstract concepts.  Annual ethics and integrity training is supplemented by “case studies.” Real world examples are used in cautionary discussions.  Anything I can do to increase the knowledge of the purpose and application of the Quality System.

In short Quality in the Lab means one thing on my team – To provide data of known and documented quality.  And in my world, known and documented quality means reconstructable.  If I can’t look at your records and be able to understand exactly what you did, then we’ve got some work to do.

What are some of the ways you promote Quality in the Lab?





In the beginning…

…  there was no content.





But there was a vision, it was simple.  Find a sounding board for all of those thoughts, ideas, and philosophies that live inside of my head.  Maybe, just maybe, we can trigger a discussion.

My craft resides in the world of Quality Assurance, within the realm of Analytical Testing.  It is a very niche market.  There aren’t a lot of resources out there for the QA Manager for a testing laboratory (think ISO 17025 and the like).

Sure, ASQ has plenty of resources.   And the Voice of Quality features some individuals that have a lot to say on general topics in Qualimedium_3346906435ty.  There are few outlets, however, for those of us who manage the quality systems of testing laboratories.   While the general topics of Quality can, and do, apply to the testing laboratory, my job involves so much more than being the local thought leader on all topics of quality.


Continue reading In the beginning…