A common question I am asked when giving a one-on-one demo is, ‘How long does it take to fully implement R18LabQMS for our laboratory?” I usually respond by saying, “Great question!” Which is not a great answer.
The short answer is that there are many variables that come into play when taking your existing quality manual procedures and documentation into a new system. So let’s explore this process.
How familiar are you with the accreditation process?
Being familiar with the accreditation process plays a major part in the onboarding process with R18LabQMS. It is important to become intimately familiar with the AASHTO R18 Quality Standard as well as the accreditation body that you will be working with. It’s not uncommon for laboratories seeking accreditation that have never been through the process before to contact us and expect to be accredited within the month due to project requirements. Laboratories should expect a minimum of three months from start to finish depending on the areas of accreditation and the experience of the laboratory staff to complete the accreditation process.
Are you currently an accredited laboratory?
If your laboratory is currently accredited, this means you have all procedures, including equipment, already established and in place. In this case the setup/onboarding process is more streamlined as opposed to a laboratory starting from scratch.
Areas of accreditation
Areas of accreditation will play a big part when making the transition to R18LabQMS. For example, if your laboratory is accredited in multiple areas, you may have several hundred pieces of equipment, and along with that comes calibration and maintenance procedures for each piece. In most cases, that’s where the work begins. Again, if your laboratory already has equipment procedures established it will make the onboarding process much easier.
Current systems in place
I have discovered that most laboratories, whether they are accredited or not, have a quality management system in place in some form or another. So taking the requirements of AASHTO R18 and organizing them in one place makes this process much easier.
Whether your laboratory is accredited or not, it’s a great idea to go through a ‘discovery process’ as it relates to AASHTO R18, or the quality standard you are currently working with. As you work through this process you will find the lion’s share of information is at your fingertips, making the accreditation onboarding process much easier.
Is the laboratory committed to the process?
This question may sound rhetorical in nature, but the larger the laboratory there will always be lab staff who have no interest in or, in some cases, unwilling to commit to the process of the management of the quality management system. In this case, commitment from senior management within the laboratory is paramount.
Tools for success
With all the aforementioned, having the right management tools for your QMS is arguably the most important. Required procedures as outlined in sections 5 and 6 (Management and Technical sections) are there for all laboratory staff to easily access and comply with. Because R18LabQMS is a web-based system, users have direct access to the QMS and all the procedures.
Once you have established and fully implemented your QMS for your laboratory, training each team member how to access the QMS along with delegating responsibilities is key. This will play a big part in your success in maintaining accreditation.
Q: Regarding the roles within R18LabQMS (access for users), the current ‘technician’ role doesn’t allow for adding equipment, making edits to equipment procedures. Do you plan to expand the user roles in future upgrades to make this possible?
A: Excellent question – we are currently working with our development team in adding the user role ‘Senior Technician.’ This role will allow the users to add and make edits to equipment, and equipment procedures. Release date coming soon, stay tuned.
Resources and training opportunities
Once you work through the setup process, the following links can be found in the lower right-hand corner of the application;
All travel to industry meetings will be assessed on their scheduled dates, 2022 is looking good.
Please check out our most recent promotional R18LabQMS video.
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.
One last favor to ask, if there is a specific topic or discussion you would like to see in our upcoming blog entries, please send us a note!
R18LabQMS Program Manager