Tag Archives: QA Manager

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.

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The Ideal QA Manager… Clears their desk

On this very beautiful Saturday afternoon, I have a confession to make…  I am a bibliophile.  Notes, data, resources, whatever.  If I have to mentally dissect information, I have it hard copy.   I’m also extremely passionate about having a clean desk. Now, as we all know, there are times in life that compromise is necessary.  It is impossible for me to be knee deep in multiple projects, and maintain a desk that resembles sanity.  There comes a point, however, that my sanity has to be restored.  Today was that day. For me, office cleansing nearly always occurs on a weekend.  It’s simpler this way, since my office always appears more disastrous in the midst of my sanity re-allocation, and often scares my colleagues. For years, I used T.R.O.G, which is a system based on David Allen’s Getting Things Done.  I used the standalone application for some period of time.  In fact, I only stopped using it in the last year when my system was updated at work. I’ll admit that I am well aware that a well executed organization system would imply that I am never in need of rebooting my desktop sanity.   I would have to agree with that statement complete, except for the fact that perfection isn’t exactly sustainable.  The ability to recognize when lower priority things (i.e., a clear desk) are needed to flush out those of higher priority is supremely important.   That is why I spent my day shuffling papers.  Life at work was starting to feel a little overwhelming.

From Order to Chaos to Order again There is a method to my madness that has come to be quite effective in the development of my organization technique.   The method typically plays out int the following steps:

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The Ideal QA Manager… Technically writes, technically

I love the wiki on editing.  There are so may different types of editors, each having a different specific task leading to the final product.

It has to be a thankless endeavor, that of an editor.  Much like the QA Manager, the only real attention likely comes when things go wrong.  I know I am quick to judge a professionally published copy that is poorly edited.

I can’t say that I’ve ever seen a laboratory with a staff technical writer, whose sole job it is to write highly technical policies and procedures that define the Quality System.  That said, in my experience, the role of author/editor/publisher often falls on the QA Manager.

As the keeper of all things written among the Quality System, I struggle with this role of author/editor/publisher.  I want to do it all perfectly, all the time.  I have this inkling that my colleagues that review those documents expect the same.  Self-torture, I believe they call it.  A glutton for punishment?  Perhaps.  Honestly, I dabbled in journalism a bit in college, but a career as a writer has never been something I’d envisioned for myself.

I have found, however, that I have a particular interest in doing my part to improve the written communication in the laboratory.  It may not be terribly exciting material, but my hope is that I can make reading those mandatory SOPs less painful.  And those documents can be painful.  It seems that every document I pull for review needs serious work.

In this vein, I recently had an epiphany.  After spending the weekend with my blind parents, I thought that I would use the “text-to-speech” function of Windows to “proof-read” a certain document I’m currently working on.  I was extremely excited about this idea for about a week.  I even mentioned it to a few of my colleagues on Friday.  And then I saw this.  Grrr…  it just goes to show, there is no unique problem, only solutions.

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