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Vol. 33 No. 5
September-October 2011

The Project Place | Information about new, current, and complete IUPAC projects and related initiatives.
See also www.iupac.org/projects

Using Process Mapping to Support (analytical) Laboratory Processes

The objectives of this new project of the Analytical Chemistry Division is to utilize process mapping for understanding, controlling, and documenting laboratory activities. Process mapping is a technique for graphically mapping and representing all steps of a complete system that form strings and/or networks of individual processes. The main purpose of applying process mapping in any complex activity is (1) to provide a common vision of the entire system and connectivity of its components, and to (2) emphasize any problem areas and opportunities that can be defined.

Since process mapping is suitable for complex and connected procedures, it can be used to analyze, optimize, and troubleshoot (with use of graphical mapping tools) any laboratory processes, from sample reception and analytical procedure to quality testing and reporting. The preliminary step to map a process is to collect information about all complex processes and see how well each process functions. It helps to identify risks and potential errors at each step. The process mapping itself will use this information to clarify the specific roles and contributions of each process participant.

This tool will be useful for any laboratory, irrespective of whether the quality standards are already implemented (accredited laboratories) or not (not-accredited laboratories). It is important to realize that process mapping does not substitute for any international quality standards (e.g., ISO 1025, ISO Guide 34, GLP, etc.). It is a step towards improving laboratory management by providing a unifying view of the entire process and allowing for reengineering of the management approach.

Creating a process map of all laboratory processes is a milestone (Milestone 1) for development/upgrade of the dedicated and optimized Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) (Milestone 2). This allows implementation of the fully-fledged interactive research and management platform providing efficient and quality-assured tools for defining, assigning, and reserving tasks and activities, for monitoring progress to task-, data-, and report-levels at all stages, and for assuring the quality of measurement results and data, as well as identifying opportunities for continual improvement.

For more information, contact Massoud Malek <m.malek@iaea.org>.

www.iupac.org/web/ins/2010-061-2-500


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