Visible Work Schedules
Within QC, it’s important to maintain visible work schedules. One way of doing this is to create separate teams that have responsibility for analysing a core set of products. Create one shared workplan that gives each Team Leader visibility of what other teams are working on. This shared workplan will give you a complete overview of the current workload in the lab and what each analyst is working on, so if required analysts can be re-allocated to different projects to meet deadlines.
Efficient Use of Equipment and Systems
Ensure Team Leaders have a daily discussion in the morning regarding their kit needs for the day. Once decided, this can be displayed on planning boards in the lab so that the allocation is visible to all analysts. This lets them know what they are using, so if they need to use a HPLC, they can start system set-up and equilibration early in the day. This then allows them to ensure system suitability’s are being met prior to injecting samples. Using a CDS, such as Chromeleon 7, allows monthly metrics to be performed on usage so you can evaluate how effectively the team are using kit and where improvements can be made.
Organising training by modules allows you to deliver consistent training across the company, regardless of experience, for specific techniques. Modular training can also accommodate the different learning styles across your team, and allows for analysts to progress at their own pace. Training should be a combination of visual and practical assessments which allows you to effectively evaluate the analyst's competency at performing techniques before introducing the next module. Delivering training in structured way can create flexibility within the team to ensure you have enough competent analysts that can deliver prioritised work compliantly.
Dividing your analysts into teams helps develop product knowledge and expertise. These teams act as 'mini laboratories' that can deliver results efficiently and effectively. Knowing the products and testing allows the team to perform thorough investigations when encountered and further building on product knowledge to recommend a resolution. Thorough investigations and recommendations for resolution are valued by customers who may not have their own laboratory and are not familiar with the analytical techniques involved. As analysts who routinely test the products, developing product expertise is a key aspect of the role in delivering excellent customer service.
Communication is key throughout Quality Control – the pace is fast and the workload is high volume, it can be overwhelming if you try and do it all. A good approach is to have small teams which allows Team Leaders to manage the balance between people and workload. Daily meetings provide a forum where immediate problems can be addressed. The Team Leaders should also be lab based which means they are on-hand to help with any issues the analysts might face and they have visibility of the testing that is ongoing. Ultimately, everyone is working towards the same goal and that is achieving client satisfaction and ideally surpassing that.