We share audio from the October 19, 2023 webinar Benefits of a Corporate Quality Management System (QMS) Review. Senior Quality Analyst, Trudy Eckstine covers the basics of if an AASHTO re:source corporate QMS review is right for your laboratory.
AASHTO re:source Q&A Podcast Transcript
Season 4, Episode 23: Webinar Audio: Benefits of a Corporate Quality Management System (QMS) Review
Recorded: October 19, 2023
Released: October 31, 2023
Host: Kim Swanson, Communications Manager, AASHTO re:source
Guest: Trudy Eckstein, Senior Quality Analyst, AASHTO re:source
Note: Please reference AASHTO re:source and AASHTO Accreditation Program policies and procedures online for official guidance on this, and other topics.
Transcription is auto-generated.
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00:00:02 ANNOUNCER: Welcome to AASHTO resource Q & A. We're taking time to discuss construction materials testing and inspection with people in the know. From exploring testing problems and solutions to laboratory best practices and quality management, we're covering topics important to you.
00:00:20 KIM: Welcome to AASHTO re:source Q&A I'm Kim Swanson. In today's episode, we're taking the audio from the October 19th, 2023 AASHTO re:university Webinar series: Benefits of a Corporate Quality Management System Review. I have edited the audio from this webinar slightly but you can see the webinar in its entirety with all of the slides that accompany it on our YouTube channel or on the re:university section of our website. In this episode you'll hear myself acting as moderator and Senior Quality Analyst, Trudy Eckstein as the main presenter.
00:01:04 TRUDY: Today we're going to discuss corporate quality management system review this new program at AASHTO Resource started here in June of this year. We're first going to start talking about our learning objectives. What are we going to learn during this webinar? So one of the first things we're going to learn is. Communicating the benefits of. The corporate QMS, and that's what I'm going to try to do to you today. We're going to talk about who is eligible to participate in this program. We're hoping you're going to gain an understanding of the process as we go through this webinar. We're also going to describe our assessors role in the process. So you know the flip side of what's going to happen when the assessor is at your laboratory performing an assessment. And we're going to go. Over what assessors will review at each location as well. And we're going to explain the process of CCRL reports, because that's going to be handled a little bit differently.
00:02:03 TRUDY: In this program. So now we have to talk a little bit about terminology and some words. So the first set of words we're going to talk about is corporate quality management system. To me, what that is, is where a laboratory has policies and procedures put together that they want all their locations to follow. So one location isn't doing something differently. At another location, and so everybody's part of the same team and following the same procedure. And this gets implemented by each management in that area. So a corporate quality management team. It can be a team of people or it could be one person. Sometimes it's just a quality manager and that's someone who's going to handle this corporate QMS. They're going to manage it. They're going. To make updates. To it, and they're going to make sure that it's being maintained and also hopefully making sure their staff understands that. Quality management system as well.
00:03:01 TRUDY: What is an approved corporate quality management system? That's terminology that you'll hear a lot, especially once you become an approved laboratory. It's not going to have a special logo. This isn't an accreditation. This is not a certification. This is an AASHTO resource program where we're going to review your corporate QMS, to see if it can forms to R18. And any additional quality system standards that your laboratory or locations are interested in. And once that's reviewed, we will deem you as an approved corporate QMS having that system. And then once you're approved with having that system, there's benefits. That go along. With that approval? And that's going right into benefits. Right, so let's. Talk about the laboratory benefits. What's the benefits of being in this new ash to resource program? One of the things it's time savings during the assessment. Because your corporate QMS is going to be reviewed.
00:04:01 TRUDY: Back in our office by one person not being rushed, they're going to do a thorough review of that corporate QMS. And then when our assessors go out on the road and come to your location, that assessor will not have to do that review. Two of that corporate QMS at each location, you may have another assessor that goes to another location. So you're going to save some time and we roughly estimate maybe two hours at each location. It roughly takes maybe 2 hours to review laboratories corporate QMS, depending on how organized of the structure. That is, it's also going to have a benefit to you. It's going to be increasing the efficiency and consistency of that review. So when we did the review. At each location, sometimes by a different assessor, you may get something a little bit different that one assessor looked at and didn't see, compared to another assessor. And with this way, you're going to have one person looking at it. The whole corporate QMS, and it won't be looked at again for another two years. So there's going to be a better efficiency and consistency from that.
00:05:10 TRUDY: And because we're doing that, there's going to be some potential for less findings in each locations report because we will have already resolved with you or that quality manager any issues we may have found that your QMS doesn't conform to or 18 requirements or additional quality system standards, OK. So they won't be listed in each location. Corporate section that we list for R18 findings, so you may have less findings for the local lab manager to try to handle, and sometimes there's something like a policy or procedure that needs to be done by the quality manager or updated and that lab manager doesn't have that control so that that'll help that. And that's how it streamlines. This QMS management process there will work directly with that quality manager or that team of quality managers to resolve any issues that we see in that corporate QMS. So it doesn't have to be handled at the more local.
00:06:08 TRUDY: Now there are staff benefits as well for us and we did mention time savings for the laboratory. It's going to be time savings for us as well. Our assessor will be able to save a couple hours at each location reviewing that standard QMS information, because it's already been reviewed back in our office. Again, it's going to be a more efficient system. It's going to be consistent because we're going to have one person looking at it back in the office. And not various assessors at different locations. Looking at that kill mask, maybe needing to rush a little bit. And maybe missing something in your QMS or maybe not able to locate it so it should be a better, efficient and consistent. System with your corporate QMS that we'll be reviewing. OK. So one of the requirements. You know who's eligible, who's eligible? To be in this program. So we're going to talk about a few things and one of the requirements is a laboratory has to have at least three accredited locations.
00:07:08 TRUDY: To be a corporate, you've got to have more than one of course. And then if you have two lab locations, are you really like a corporate wide level? So we kind of kind of brought in the number three. So you have to have three accredited locations in order to participate in this program. You also have to enforce your corporate QMS, so you can't just have a corporate QMS and tell. People here it. Is and you're not checking and ensuring that they are following that process and your policies and your procedures. So you do have to enforce your corporate QMS. All the laboratory names need to be the same and when we have laboratory names that might be slightly different, it causes confusion for everyone out there as well as IT wise database wise it's much easier to have the same name, but it also shows that these laboratories are together as a group, right? If you all have the same.
00:08:00 TRUDY: I mean, they're in kind of the same corporate structure, right? So that's why we're going to require you to have the same lab name. There may be some exceptions that we've worked out, especially the grandfathered in kind of labs that have been with us through this pilot program for the last couple of years. But for the most part, we want all the laboratory names to be the same. And another thing to be eligible. Is you're going to have to resolve any nonconformities when we do our review of your corporate QMS, we do provide you with a report. It's going to be very similar to what you receive when you have an assessment and you get that report, you're going to go log in to our website, you're going to go to your accreditation events. You're going to see any nonconformities that you might have. And of course, when you do go through renewal process and we renew you most of the time, there's usually hardly any findings, right. So you have to resolve your nonconformities in order to be eligible to be in this program. And you have to be a. Registered corporate account holder. So what we do is. When we have laboratory sign into our program, you'll have a unique identified number that's deemed this is your corporate account. This is where your corporate report will be. You'll be stating who your quality manager is, maybe who your backup person is, and we'll work together closely with that person and you'll have an official registered corporate account number.
00:09:19 TRUDY: That'll be different than each of your location specific. Laboratories, we do have a policy and guidance document on our corporate quality management system review. It is available on our website. I also emailed this to laboratories who are interested in our program. So they kind of see it written down exactly what the requirements are, the process of it. Happening all the information that you can find out about the program. I also send this in emails when laboratories it's time to renew there are there this service. So it's a great document and everything we're talking about today is actually in this policy and guidance document. OK, so let's talk a. Little bit about the process. So I just talked about registering your corporate account. So if you're a new laboratory and not in this program. You're going to want to register your corporate account, and this is something available on our website. That little screenshot there for you and you're going to register you're laboratory.
00:10:26 TRUDY: You're going to put in your name in your lab, your physical location, who's your quality manager, where you're located? You're going to fill out all that information. And then that's going to go to me. And then you're going to get a nice e-mail from me, including our policy and guidance document that you can read up on. And I'm going to request for you to submit to me your corporate QMS, hopefully in one file, it makes it a lot easier for it if it can come into one file, but if not, we'll work, work with it and work around it. And then what happens? Your corporate QMS reviewed by our AASHTO Resource staff, and then we'll let you know the outcome of that review. So what are the requirements for your corporate QMS? OK, it means to meet R18. That is the main component that we review in your corporate QMS. It needs to meet are 18 all laboratories that are asked accredited have to meet R18.
00:11:23 TRUDY: But then your laboratory does have the option to. Have it reviewed. For additional quality system standards. Such as the 1077, the 3740, et cetera. We will also review that we do prefer to review for all those standards because we know some locations may not be accredited for those standards. But there may be other locations that you have in your in your corporate account that do review those. So we'd like to review them all at once if that's possible. And coming down the pipeline in the future, we're also hoping to review C 1222. Which is a cement quality system standard and C 1093 which is a masonry quality system standard. That is something that CTRL reviews during their assessments, but it's something that we're going to probably start reviewing in this corporate QMS program as an extra benefit for laboratories who do have that approval. That'll be one extra step that they'll be confident in and know that their quality system meets those requirements, so hopefully that's coming in.
00:12:28 TRUDY: Future, we're going to talk a little bit about our renewal process, but let's start with how often does a renew happen? And it's basically every two to 2 1/2 years. So that also matches somewhat of what our Astral Resource Tour sequence is. It's usually about every 2 1/2 years right now because. David had us back behind for a little bit. We're starting to catch up, but it's our goal is to get back to the 2 1/2 year tour let. So that's what the renewal process will be. It's not something that you'll have to remember. It'll be something that I'll reach out to you, the quality manager and say, hey, it's time for your renewal. And I'll let you know a couple of months ahead of time and I'll just say hey, sending your your current corporate QMS and we'll review it once again. And there I just said that's the next step you're going to submit that corporate QMS for that review.
00:13:21 TRUDY: And if there are any findings, the laboratory has 60 days to resolve this findings and for the majority of the part, it's a policy or procedure. It may not have exactly the wording it needs, or we might have missed something in the first review process, but most of the time renewals are pretty clean as far as non conformities. OK, So what if you started in the program and you're like, oh, this is too much work or I'm not sure if this is quite. The right fit. How? Do I unenroll? How do I not stay in this right? Well, it is a labs decision. No one has to be in this program if they don't want to. But it is a labs decision. They just have to let us know. Send me an e-mail and say we're not going to be in this corporate QMS program anymore and what will happen is we'll go back to the way we've been doing it prior to that, where the assessors will review that corporate QMS at each location during the tour. Another way to let us know that you don't want to be in the program is you're not going to. All your findings were any during that initial review or even that renewal process, if you don't resolve the findings, we're going to know. You don't want to meet.
00:14:26 TRUDY: The requirements if you. Result and we'll go back to square one again, the assessors will review those corporate quality management systems at each location during the tour. How do you resolve those findings from that initial review for that renewal? Well, we recently started here in June having an official report. Where it's very similar I mentioned at the beginning of this webinar where it's kind of like your assessment report. It's a very similar process. It's going to. Explicitly say now that this is your. Corporate quality Management system review that was done by so and so on. So and so date and here are any nonconformities that were found. It'll actually put it into our system on our website. So when you log in with your username and password. You'll go to the accreditation events and you'll be able to resolve your findings and again, you have 60 days to do that from the date of the report and you do get an e-mail to the quality manager letting you know that your corporate QMS has been reviewed. You can go to our website and look up any nonconformities and resolve them.
00:15:37 TRUDY: Another thing that's coming we're hoping here in the future in January, we're going to start requiring laboratories that are in this program to have a policy and or procedure on how they ensure each location using the correct version of the quality management system. Now we know this is not an R18. Requirement. We know it's not an inequality system standards, but this is a requirement that we feel is necessary for this specific program. OK, so if you have a corporate QMS and you're not implementing and making sure new staff is trained on this QMS, making sure that they actually have access to the current version. And not an old version. So we just want a little bit of a policy and procedure and how you're going to make sure that all locations are using this corporate QMS in the current version.
00:16:33 TRUDY: OK, so I talked about we're going to let you know what we're going to do on our end for this program. So what's our Staffs role? So one of the things is we do have an exception with CCL and if you're not sure who CCRL is, that's the cement and concrete reference laboratory. And they handle assessments and proficiency samples in scopes like concrete, masonry, cement, pozzlan, iron and steel. Right now, they're not going to participate with us in this program. We do hope in the future that they will join us, but right now what will happen is CCRL will still conduct their assessment. They will still review that corporate QMS at each location, so they're not following how AASHTO resource is going to through a desktop review, and those items won't need to be reviewed during your location specific review. OK, so see, CCRL will still go through that process.
00:17:33 TRUDY: And then what happens is the report is processed and then it goes through our system. That report and the findings are uploaded where your quality manager or maybe a lab manager or maybe a designated person is in charge of resolving those findings. OK. So if there is a finding in the report is ceased. And your laboratory is a corporate approved. Laboratory having a corporate approved QMS, what we'll do as a quality analyst is we're going to resolve that finding and we're going to put a little note in there saying it's approved in our corporate QMS and we're not going to make you submit response and evidence that. You have it, OK. And then on the flip side, the quality analyst is going to let me know that here's a lab that CCRL found a specific finding for. But they're in. Our approved program and what we're going to do is we're going to follow up with the laboratory during our next review process and we're just going to double check and make sure it really is.
00:18:33 TRUDY: And that corporate QMS. And it's not something we missed or maybe it was something that Cesaro missed during their on site review. So we're just going to double check and make sure the laboratory is meeting the requirements of R18 and is applicable quality system standards. We do have worksheets that we have created for our assessors to use is very similar to our other worksheets, but there's specific things that we don't have to look for anymore when the assessor is on the road during the assessment and these are worksheets that will actually be using when we conduct that review of your corporate QMS. We also have a corporate QMS summary, and this is just a helpful thing for our assessors to use. That has some shortcuts. So if they're at your laboratory. And they're not. Sure. Of something they don't have to go digging through the corporate QMS that we have saved on our website for them to utilize and this is.
00:19:30 TRUDY: Just like a little CHEAT SHEET. For them to give them some shortcuts if they have. Questions about something. That they may be reviewing in your laboratory. So some of the assessment expectations. We want to make sure the laboratory is utilizing the most current version of the QMS. Now it is possible that we've reviewed a corporate QMS and approved it and say we approved it and the QMS was dated June 2023. But when our assessor goes to laboratory ohh, there's another version that says it's September 2020. Great. And whether or not that's OK? Well, in that case that is OK and we are not going to write any nonconformities for documents that were approved through that QMS prior because what was updated should only be something small, minor editorial, nothing of a major impact. OK. So we just want to make sure the laboratory is using. Either the version that we have reviewed or newer now with the laboratory pulls up and says, hey, this is our corporate QMS, and you see that one that one that's on the website was from 2022 that the lab is showing you that that's what they're.
00:20:41 TRUDY: Rolling, but we have in our records that the most current. One is June. 2023 then we are going to write a finding and say that the laboratory is not using the most current version of the QMS and the version they presented was blank, blank from 2022. OK. And I'm sure everybody's thinking well, are you going to review anything when you come to our laboratory? The answer is yes. We are going to review specific items that are specific to your location. So what are they? The organizational chart that is specific to your location. Including goes along with. It biographical sketches for your staff. The competency and training records for those individuals as well. An internal audit and a management review is conducted at each location, so that's also going to be different from each location. Customer complaints, I know everybody says they don't have complaints, right, but that is unique to each location. So we'll review that.
00:21:46 TRUDY: The inventory list, the equipment that each location has is different. If you're in Dallas, compared to Fort Worth, right, it's different. As well as we're going to review. All of those calibration, standardization, check and maintenance records, right? Because they're unique to that piece of equipment that is at that location. So that is a general term of the items that. We will be reviewing. The other things, such as the overall procedures for, well, how do you do calibrations and standardizations and how do you make sure you don't miss the interval? And things like. That that's in your policies and procedures. But that's something we've already looked at and we've conducted during that corporate QMS review, OK. So that's something the assessor they don't need to read that procedure because we've already reviewed it and it conforms to 18. So the assessors are going to be looking at specific things you need to each location.
00:22:40 TRUDY: So one of the things we want assessors to do when they're doing these assessment. Is to kind. Of get a feel and ask the question. You know how. How does the lab notify you when updates are made to the QMS? You know, are you getting emails or or are you receiving training when certain things have been changed and so we want assessors to be asking these questions and if the answers come up. No one ever tells us anything when something's been. Updated, we don't. Know. So that helps. Get a better efficiency for a corporate QMS so they know something stopped along the way. It's not getting down to those other people that need the information when you're updating a policy and procedure, they need to know how you want them to do things, especially if someone comes on board and they're a new person. For you and they've worked for XY and Z. Well, you don't want them to continue to do. To their work, based on policies and procedures of XYZ. So there is some training you need to do for.
00:23:43 TRUDY: New staff to. Make sure one. They know where that corporate QMS is. If they have questions and to. Go through it. Step by step policy by policy, procedure wise. And ensure that they understand the things might be different from where they came from. Of how you handle your requirements and your needs. For your laboratory. Ah, you knew this was coming, right? There's always a fee for something. Except, you know, you join this webinar, and that was free. Today, that's great, right? But there is an initial fee for. A laboratory who is interested. And becoming and having an approved corporate QMS. The initial review is $1200, but it's broken down by two invoices. So if you're an initial lab and I e-mail you saying please submit your corporate QMS for review. And you do. That that's when we're going to invoice you right away for $600.00. And that goes towards the AASHTO accreditation program of handling this corporate QMS review. Once it goes through the process and our laboratory.
00:24:45 TRUDY: Assessment program has reviewed the actual QMS. As well as prepared that report then, the lap program will invoice you for $600.00. OK, it's a team effort we're sharing. The money with. Each other for our departments, so that's why it's broken down separately. In that invoice. Now, if you're already in our program. There'll be a renewal fee, so when I invoice. Saying it's time for a review, we will invoice you at that time for $300.00 for the accreditation program. Once that renewal process is done, we've done that corporate renewal. Again, that review process will issue another $300.00 by the laboratory assessment, all invoices will need to be paid before we officially process and close out the account. So if you're an initial laboratory, you won't be granted that approval until that invoice. Has been completed.
00:25:41 TRUDY: Deficiencies have been resolved and we have called and said, hey, send us your most current corporate QMS might have had to update that, QMS based on some non conformities we found and some things you might have had to fix. So we'll ask you to send that new one in and then we'll let you know when you're officially approved and when you're approved, then that your next. Whatever location that might be is when we'll. Start that process. Of not reviewing all the policies and procedures from that QMS. At each location. OK, here's our questions in discussion. Does anybody have any questions for me? Kim is going to moderate because I can't see your question, but she will let me know what questions you might have. You have any questions?
00:26:26 KIM: We do have. Two questions and they are of the same vein. So I'm just going to ask one because I. Think they're the same? But I do encourage everyone to use the question and answer. Feature and that's how you can ask the question. So I would discuss this. But Trudy, we were when you were talking about the benefits of the program, we got both of these questions around that time. And it was is.
00:26:51 TRUDY: OK.
00:26:52 KIM: There a cost reduction for the price of each locations assessment. Because of the time savings of the corporate QMS.
00:27:04 TRUDY: There may be a cost reduction. I believe I mentioned we're usually saying it takes about two hours to complete that corporate QMS review at each location, right. But the way we handle our billing is by half a day increments. So sometimes it can. Save you money. If you have a lot of locations and you're a larger. Laboratory company. You may save money in the long run that way because you're going to have lots of locations, but you're you're going to save that two hour review process at each location, so that's going to save you time as well As for the quality manager. That quality manager is only going to have. To respond once to us. Every 2 1/2 years for specific policy and procedure things to make sure you do have it in the corporate QMS. Whereas if you're not in this program. And we're doing that QMS review at each location, then that quality manager or even that lab manager gets pulled in to resolve those findings at each specific location. So then you have to take the time involved in saving money that way. If you're actually doing that review. Once that corporate QMS, and not every time at each location, that should be a cost savings rate there as well.
00:28:25 KIM: Thank you, Rudy. I hope that answers your questions. If it doesn't, just feel free to type them in for. Some follow up. We did have another, not necessarily a question, but a comment from one of our attendee.
00:28:38 TRUDY: Like for your staff.
00:28:40 KIM: Yeah, one of the comments from an attendee that we had. That we have is not a question, it is they participate in the corporate QMS policy or corporate QMS review, and they've shared that. We feel that all of our procedures and processes are streamlined, although it is a little bit of work in the beginning. The benefits outweigh the initial effort. Great program, exclamation point. So thank you for that.
00:29:10 TRUDY: Oh, thank you so much. Whoever wrote that, I appreciate that. And and on the flip side. The quality managers are. One who does all that work up front for the initial, so I applaud them for the hard work that they. Do as well and. For the requirements they have to make sure their laboratories are using that corporate QMS and it's just not written and falling. On deaf ears so. Two craps for them.
00:29:35 KIM: And so we also have another question from an anonymous attendee. That said, in the past CCRL has not participated in this program. Is what are the changes you kind of already talked about that, Trudy, but what kind of are we hopeful that there's going to be any change in their policy going forward or what do? You what? Can you? What can you say around the CCRL exceptions?
00:29:59 TRUDY: OK, so the exceptions you're correct. See CCRL didn't join hands with us during the pilot phase and has elected not to do this during the official phase through this process. But my fingers are crossed because. We are working together CCRL and AASHTO resource. We're here for the laboratories. We're here for the industry. We believe this program makes things easier for laboratories, saves time, makes things more efficient and we're all about that as well. I believe as we're keeping track of things now. That maybe CCRL has found that's missing. Or maybe we've been able to show them. Hey, it was just because maybe the lab didn't send in that document for your quality auditor to review, and it really was in the QMS, things like that, as we're able to work together and show the success hopefully of this. And that the corporate laboratories want this kind of information and and and be able to work together between the two groups because a lot of laboratories do do.
00:31:03 TRUDY: Concrete and asphalt and soils or AG or something like that. So they are using both programs so. Hopefully one day. Fingers crossed it will be, it will happen. And the more that Cicero hears your feedback. Let them know that you really wish they would participate in this program. Maybe that will be helpful as well, but fingers crossed, we'll make that happen one. Day
00:31:26 KIM:. Thank you, Trudy. And that is the end. We have no current questions, so I'm going to give somebody. Maybe they're slow typer like I am occasionally. So, but we'll go on and if anyone pops up with a question. Then we will. I will still take it, but.
00:31:46 TRUDY: thank You I I just want to thank people as well on our team for making this happen. Creating documents and policies and helping things go through the process. Bernadette, Frankie and Ashley. I also want to thank Kim here, our moderator, she put together this wonderful PowerPoint presentation. He makes everything. Look beautiful and our IT guy Troy. He does all the behind the scenes work there as well as people in our admin office such as Sarah and Mark and Stephen, so I appreciate everybody's work. This isn't just a one person show, this is a program that we're working all together and we're hoping it's going to be a successful for our laboratories.
00:32:26 KIM: Yes, and thank you for all your work, Trudy. And if you want to reach out to Trudy, there is her contact information, and I wanted to share some upcoming events that we have going on as well. We have a webinar scheduled. It's another free webinar scheduled in January. So you can find that on our events page as well and. A plug for our technical exchange happening in Boston in March of 2024. You can connect with us numerous ways. Again, thank you everybody for joining us and have. A great day.
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00:32:5900:00:00 ANNOUNCER: Thanks for listening to AASHTO re: source Q & A. If you'd like to be a guest or just submit a question, send us an email at email@example.com or call Brian at 240-436-4820. For other news and related content, check out AASHTO re:source's social media accounts or go to aashtoresource.org.