First-Time-Right in laboratories: how to measure and take action?
16 September, 2021
Head of BINOCS marketing
Ensuring that any work sequence or process is performed in the proper manner the first time and every time is referred to as First-time-right (FTR) and originates from Six Sigma. When a lab delivers analysis results, they have to be correct. The slightest glitch during the method execution leads to a non-reliable outcome and requires one and often two re-tests. No wonder that lab managers are aiming to make test processes robust in all their aspects. It comes down to minimizing the amount of rework due to mistakes/failures during testing: both maximizing the efficiency of the lab as well as the quality of the work delivered. How can labs measure it? And what can you do to improve on this KPI?
Value of focussing on First- Time- Right in the laboratory
Learn from mistakes/failures
How many experiments or tests get sent back for re-test or lead to CAPAs (corrective and preventive actions)? In addition to better GxP compliance, labs are more efficient when test execution and associated documentation are made correctly from the first time. Monitoring this metric and identifying the failures’ root causes are essential to precisely know what requires attention.
Improve customer satisfaction
Working with reliable test methods opens great potential for a better schedule adherence, which has a direct positive impact on meeting the Service Level Agreements (SLA) with internal and external customers such as manufacturing, supply chain, clinical operations, and R&D.
Improve analyst satisfaction
Redoing work is frustrating. Lab analysts get demotivated when tests fails due to factors outside of their control like failing instruments, unclear guidelines, issues with the preparation, or unexpected deviations in the lab’s planning. The non-value-added work related to re-testing (documentation, reviewing re-tests, …) is not a lab analysts’ favorite pastime. Hence, improving upon your First-time-right metric has proven to have a positive impact on job satisfaction.
More efficient = cost savings
Improving the lab’s First-time-right KPI inherently reduces non-value-adding work. This is a direct tangible cost-saving. Indirectly, it will improve schedule adherence, creating tangible business benefits at the internal or external customer side.
Challenges when implementing First-Time-Right
Challenge 1: What to monitor?
The key objective of measuring First-time-right is to take proactive, preventative action (not reactive). Measuring the FTR as a % of tests that failed is not enough. You need to be able to understand the root causes. This requires that lab analysts capture the following information:
- Which test method failed?
- Sample context (type, origin, …)
- Execution context (site, lab, analyst, instrument, shift)
- Failure context (failure reason, remarks)
Challenge 2: How to monitor and explore FTR?
There is nothing like a free lunch. If we want to analyze, someone has to enter the data. It is essential to implement the proper workflow and choose the right system to capture the failure data. Labs must find a common go-to-point, which limits the extra burden for the analyst to register failures.
Analysts will be motivated to enter extra data when there is also direct feedback on FTR statistics. The system must be able to visualize the FTR performance, the root causes for failures, the effect of operational excellence initiatives ant the like.
Actionable operations analytics: Measuring First-time-right with BINOCS
In BINOCS, it’s very straightforward to measure the % First-time-right and identify the root causes. This data comes together in easy to interpret, fully dynamic dashboards like this one:
Because you now know, for example, that the two most important reasons for failed samples are ‘issue when preparing the sample’ and ‘SST failure (FailedSystem Suitability test)’ – your FTR metric becomes actionable: you know exactly what to investigate and improve.
Capturing this data requires minimal input effort. BINOCS uses the analyst go-to point for lab work, which is the digital schedule board. In case of a test failure, the analysts enter the failure reason as part of the re-test workflow. All the contextual information on the sample and the test execution are already known.
We’re curious to know more about what challenges you face and would welcome to opportunity to discuss how we can help! Book your discovery meeting now!
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