Managing your Proficiency Sample Program (PSP)

One of the three basic accreditation requirements is participating in and managing your Proficiency Sample Program (PSP). This plays a key role in the overall quality of your laboratory beyond the requirements for accreditation. So let’s take a look at the true benefits for your laboratory; a great tool to monitor quality control within the laboratory, comparative test results with a large number of participating labs just to name a few of the benefits. 


When participating in a PSP program there are hard closing dates with little or no flexibility for submitting late data. Within the PSP program we participate in there are hundreds of other labs meeting the same deadlines to submit data. Within the Performance Grade Asphalt Binder samples alone there are 240 participating laboratories, for Coarse Aggregates there are 1832 labs and for HMA Gyratory samples there are 904 labs. So just imagine if everyone decided to be a week or two late, that would throw the entire program off!  

Individual test results that come back with more than two standard deviations from the grand average require a Root Cause Analysis. Record keeping is essential and here’s why; Root Cause Analysis documentation is only required internally, so when the assessor performs the on-site assessment they will be looking for all records and documentation regarding PSP samples including those with low ratings, so don’t let this lead to a non-conformity.

Root Cause Analysis process

You can spend a lot of time reading through web pages on Root Cause Analysis and most will lead you down the path of the five “whys” to resolve a problem. So after doing some research, here’s a short but comprehensive read that will give a great overview. 

5 Whys: The Ultimate Root Cause Analysis Tool

Largest PSP Program in the World

Managing PSP within R18LabQMS

It’s important to keep all records updated not only for the benefit of quality control within the laboratory, but also for the next on-site assessment. When it comes to PSP sample management within R18LabQMS, here are a few pointers.

After logging in to the application, click on the Reports tab across the top, then click on the “sub-tab” PSP Reports. Here you will be able to see a complete history of all PSP samples that have been added, which can easily be ‘sorted by column’ by clicking the column header. When adding a new PSP record you will also be able to add results requiring corrective action (test results more than two standard deviations from the grand average). When adding a new PSP record here, it will automatically be added to section within your Quality Manual (tab).

R18LabQMS User Questions

Q:  I’m trying to add a new user and when clicking “save new user” nothing happens! Can you help?!

A:  Yes! One of the required fields on the form is the new user’s email address, however, if the address that you’re adding is a duplicate or an invalid format, it won’t ‘save. Unfortunately, the application currently does not tell the user of the email error. We have taken steps to have a message pop up telling the user they need to either provide another email in the case of duplication or a valid email address.


Once you work through the setup process, the following links can be found in the lower right-hand corner of the application:

User Guide
R18 Blog
WebEx – Additional training, please let us know.
Onsite Training – Fee-based, please inquire.

For all questions regarding your quality management system, whether your lab is accredited or not, please contact us and learn how R18LabQMS can add value to your company.

Upcoming sponsorships 

SEAUPG 2018 Annual Meeting & Exhibits

Southeastern Asphalt User / Producer Group

Baton Rouge, LA  November 19-21, 2019

– Gary Irvine

R18LabQMS Program Manager