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Welcome to the Quarantined with Qualtrax series! Through these webinars, we will bring together industry experts and provide critical insights that will help you and your team adjust and thrive during the pandemic.

In our second episode, moderated by Qualtrax’s CEO Amy Ankrum, we sat down with 3 experts to discuss how they are ensuring business continuity during this time of crisis brought on by the coronavirus (COVID-19).

If you missed the episode, it’s not too late! You can view it here.

We brought together panelists from different industries to share what they’ve learned from the pandemic and how they’ve kept their organizations running smoothly.

Our first panelist, Shane Hager, is the Quality Assurance Manager at VPT Inc. VPT Inc manufactures high reliability power converters and EMI filters for space and military applications. His organization supports well known names like Lockheed Martin, Boeing and NASA.

Our second panelist, Shelley Webster, plays three very important roles at the El Cajon Crime Lab in San Diego, California.

Shelley is the Crime Lab Manager, Property Room Manager and the Quality Assurance Manager. Her work supports a police department of 140 officers in the suburbs of San Diego and collectively serves around 100,000 residents.

Our third panelist, Kelli Lewis, is the Laboratory Director at the U.S. Secret Service. Her office services over 150 field offices both domestically and internationally. The U.S. Secret Service is responsible for protecting the nation’s leaders and securingthe financial infrastructure of the nation. Like Shelley and Shane, her office has had to remain 100% functional during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Together, our panelists answered specific questions related to business continuity in their organizations. Follow along with us as we learn more about their success!

What has been your organization’s biggest challenge as a result of COVID-19 and moving to a remote workplace?

For Kelli and her colleagues, one of the biggest challenges and disappointments has been the lack of in-person opportunities to meet with coworkers, learn, and go to conferences.

To fill this gap, Kelli has found other ways to provide virtual continued education so that her team is able to invest in themselves and hone their skills.

At the El Cajon Crime Lab, Shelley’s biggest challenge was getting everyone remote access to their systems. Having only adopted the Qualtrax system recently, they weren’t 100% ready to access everything remotely. She had to work quickly to get everything available online.

For Shane, the biggest challenge was the nature of the manufacturing industry. He had to figure out how to continue to serve VPT Inc’s customers while taking changes in the supply chain into consideration.

It was also difficult to modify workstations for his employees and create a staggered schedule.

What has been most helpful in continuing your work during this time?

For Shelley, the most helpful strategy has been investing in systems that allow her and her team to work efficiently online. Using Qualtrax, Shelley and her team have everything they need in one place and have created time-saving workflows.

At VPT, Inc, Shane’s IT department has played an enormous role in keeping their organization operational.

As Kelli and her team were preparing to move into a significant telework posture, the examiners were busy processing as much evidence as possible so that they could perform the examination remotely, along with report writing and review.

In addition to Qualtrax, her team used the software tool, Mideo, which allows for the analysis of comparison of fingerprints, casenotes, and documentation to be done electronically.

Are there new best practices your organization has put into place for business continuity due to COVID-19?

The majority of Shane’s team needs to be in the office in order to manufacture and test products, so they’ve experimented with staggered shifts and team meetings. VPT, Inc has also extended extra PTO to staff so they are able to take care of their families.

For Shelley, she wants to continue her team’s awareness and responsibility around illness in the workplace post-COVID. As often is the case, people try to come to work while sick and push through in order to get work done. Shelley wants to eliminate that attitude from her labs entirely.

She is also excited about how many meetings she’s realizing can be meaningfully attended online, without the need for a special trip to another side of the city.

How are you preparing for important quality and/or supplier audits during this time? Will these be conducted remotely?

Kelli’s team just completed their external ISO 17025 ANAB surveillance assessment this month. Thankfully, they were able to upload all of the documents for the assessment before going fully remote. At that point, the assessor was able to do the review of the documents remotely and they used Qualtrax and their VPN in order to retrieve any additional documents that they needed without anyone going to the office.

At VPT, they had to figure out how to allow their customers to do source inspections without coming in. Normally prior to a shipment, a company representative would go on site at VPT and do a hands on physical inspection and a 100% review of the manufacturing and testing data. They’ve found success in completing these inspections via video and leveraging Qualtrax to give others guest access to their system. They even have customers wanting to go this route again in the future!

How has Qualtrax contributed to the way your organization functions and what role has it played in business continuity during COVID-19?

Qualtrax is the heart and soul of the Quality Management System at VPT. They use it to house everything from document control, corrective and preventive action, management reviews, and many other processes.

Shane has invested a lot of time while working from home in creating more workflows and taking their team paperless, a project that’s been on his plate for a long time.

At the U.S. Secret Service, Kelli has leveraged Qualtrax to allow staff to work from home and even onboard new staff virtually.

For Shelley, she’s using the time she’s saving from her commute to master the workflow tools in Qualtrax. She’s even implemented workflows in her property room and laboratory.

And finally, what changes have you made in your organization that you feel will continue after this pandemic is over?

Shelley is using this time to explore strategies and investments that will take her labs totally paperless.

Shane is working on process improvements and creating additional time-saving workflows through Qualtrax.

Kelli and her team are uncovering which activities are done even more efficiently remotely. This is huge for their team as the need to drive into D.C. everyday could be avoided, at least partially.

Is your organization thriving right now or do you need a little extra support?

We hope these tips and insights have inspired you to innovate in your organization. Maybe our experts’ insights have even validated measures you’ve already taken. The tips here only represent a handful of the highlights from the full webinar, which you can view here.

If you need a little extra support, we hope you’ll let us help you during this crisis!

If you’re not familiar with the Qualtrax system, let us take you on a tour and offer you a free trial! We may be the exact system you need right now to sustain momentum and ensure success.

Categories: Audits, Compliance Management, Forensic Labs, Manufacturing, Process Management, Quality Managers, Uncategorized

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