Validation Manager makes verifications easy. Yet for some people it may seem like an overwhelming task to start using it.
Nevertheless, we are confident that shaping up your verifications doesn’t need to be difficult. Follow these steps to finally get rid of Excels and make your verifications run smoothly.
Getting forward step by step
To be honest, Validation Manager is rarely a plug and play solution. Laboratories have different conventions and processes in regards to their verifications, as well as different ways of data management in general. That’s why their expectations differ when they start using Validation Manager.
Also, it is common that the people responsible for verifications are very busy. They feel that they do not have enough time to do their work well, let alone learn to use a new tool. If you are already using your nights and weekends to get the necessary verifications done, how would you have the capacity to learn to do it in a new way?
To tackle these obstacles, we’ve created a step by step process to get you onboard. In short, there are three phases where we guide you and make sure that you can get started easily:
The kick-off, where we make sure that we are on the same page on how you’ll start using Validation Manager and what needs to be done to make it easy. We will also set up your Validation Manager and make sure that it’s ready for your verifications.
The training, where we make sure that you know how you can get your first verifications done in Validation Manager
The check-up, where we help you get more out of Validation Manager
The idea is to get forward in sessions that are small enough for your time management. You’ll learn things that you can use right now in your work. And you also get concrete help in getting your job done.
By reading this post you will get an idea of what to expect after the purchase decision.
The kick-off phase
During the first phase, we will make sure that we have all required information to set up your Validation Manager for you and to plan the training that fits your needs. We also want you to get more familiar with the product, so that you know where we’re heading to. Depending on your needs, we may discuss things like verification protocols and processes, currently used templates and report formats, data transfer and upcoming verification projects.
For things to run smoothly, you should do a couple of things before the actual kick-off meeting.
How to prepare for the kick-off meeting
Before the kick-off meeting, we’d ask you to send us a few things:
A list of your tests and instruments that are relevant to the upcoming verification projects, including reference instruments and tests. You will get an Excel template to fill with this information. In the meeting, we’ll make sure that we understand what the list contains. That way we’ll know how to set up this information into your Validation Manager so that it’s easy for you to start using it.
Some examples of your existing verification data and reports, e.g. for method comparison and/or precision. This helps us plan the product introduction and training to your needs. We also like to use your own data while giving a demo of the product. That seems to make it easier for people to concentrate on relevant things and to understand what Validation Manager is all about.
Example data files from those instruments or middleware or LIS that you want to use in the first verifications. This is because often there are differences in device configurations that affect how the data files should be interpreted.
It would be best if you could send us everything a couple of days before the kick-off. We need some time to go through them to be able to plan the kick-off meeting efficiently, so that you will get most out of it.
Who should participate the kick-off?
People who are responsible for the verifications should attend the kick-off. If someone else is responsible for choices like which verification protocols to use, or how to get the verification data to Validation Manager without typing numbers manually into Excels, they should also be present. It is important that during the kick-off we can make decisions on how to proceed with verifications.
At the same time it would be good if only a small number of people attend the kick-off. A good kick-off has an open atmosphere of discussion, where questions are asked, suggestions are made and everyone feels that it’s easy to speak about their own doubts and insights. An open mindset towards quality improvement is a very useful thing to have in a kick-off. If there are multiple departments who are starting to use Validation Manager, kick-offs are often arranged separately for each of them to keep the amount of participants small and the discussion relevant for everyone.
For the kick-off meeting to run smoothly, every participant should clearly see what’s being shared and be able to join the discussion. A good way to do this is to have the meeting in a meeting room where content is being shared on a big screen. In a remote kick-off another good option is that everyone has their own computers. Either way, access to internet is required.
What happens during the kick-off meeting?
During the kick-off, we’ll go through a few topics including
How you see verifications and how you have done them in the past. The goal for that is to get a better idea about how to best get started with Validation Manager.
What kind of verifications you have ongoing or will have in near future and how they are scheduled. That’s because we want to identify where you would benefit using Validation Manager at the moment and within the near weeks.
What’s the best way for you to transfer data into Validation Manager and is there something that needs to be done to enable that. Together we will figure that out, no matter if the data comes from different instruments directly, LIS or middleware systems, or if it’s currently handled in Excels.
In a kick-off, we try to give you realistic expectations on what Validation Manager can do. We may talk about what kind of changes it may require from you to be able to get full benefits out of using the product. Often we discuss the benefits of different verification protocols. This helps you make decisions on how to do your verifications in the future.
What do verifications have to do with quality?
In a kick-off, we will also talk about the quality mindset in laboratories. The reason for this is that some laboratories focus on the wrong things in their verifications.
For example in reporting they may have practices that take a lot of time but give little relevant information about verifications. Many monitor correlation coefficient without understanding what you really can deduce out of it, or use ordinary linear regression model in cases where it’s not really suitable.
When starting with Validation Manager, some laboratories just expect to get a fancier version of Excel to run their verifications as they’ve always been run. It’s important to understand that Validation Manager is not Excel. It’s a lot more: a chance to start doing verifications smarter, with less effort and more visibility into your results.
But there may be some aspects that make you miss your old Excel sheets.
With the Excels there may be things that make you feel a little unsure about what you are doing. Starting to use Validation Manager often reveals these problems in existing processes. It can feel painful to come face to face with these things, realizing the flaws of how you’ve done things before.
The pain points and their severity vary from laboratory to another. That’s why it’s good to get us all on the same page about these issues already during the kick-off. It helps us plan the trainings and offer the support that you need.
After all, we have a common goal of improving laboratory quality and making your job easier.
The training phase
Soon after the kick-off we will have a training. What will be trained depends on what you will need in your first verifications. The main goal of the training is to teach you the basic workflow in Validation Manager through a couple of relevant examples. That way you know what to do in your first verifications.
After the training, most users are able to learn more on their own. But if you feel like you need new trainings to get more familiar with different features of Validation Manager, we are happy to offer additional trainings tailored to your needs.
Preparing for training
To ensure everyone gets the most out of the training, we limit the number of participants to 8-10 people a session. Everyone should have their own computers with access to internet. For the training to get on smoothly, it would be good if everyone could access their e-mails from the computer they are using.
Sometimes there are big differences between participants, how easy it is for them to get familiar with a new software. It may happen that some people get bored as the tasks are so easy and quick to do. At the same time some other people get lost on what they should be doing. It may help to have people do the exercises in pairs. Both could work on their own computers, and help each other when the other one gets stuck. This enhances the learning for both. Optionally it is possible to have multiple trainings for different user groups.
Often we end the training with helping you start your first real verification projects in Validation Manager. So it’s good to think in advance how you could use Validation Manager in your work at the moment.
What happens in a training session?
Often there are people in the training who have not yet seen Validation Manager, or don’t remember much of what they have seen. That’s why we tend to start with a small product introduction and a demo. As the demo describes the main workflow that we will be rehearsing, it sort of sets your learning goals for the training. Most of the training is hands-on exercises that will help you get your own verifications done.
The content of the training depends on what you need right now. In a typical training, we conduct a verification project containing one study to find precision (and possibly TAE or some other accuracy parameter), and a comparison study to find bias. We then create the verification report to get you familiar with the whole process flow. We also introduce the administration features to make sure that you know everything necessary to conduct your verification studies.
Overall, we will proceed step by step. We’ll explain the goal of what we’ll be doing next, introduce briefly the relevant protocols, and show you how to do things in Validation Manager. You will do the example verification by yourself using instructions on every step, and can ask questions whenever there’s something puzzling.
The first projects
To enhance your learning, it would be good if you could start using Validation Manager as soon as you get your production credentials. And besides, the more use you find for Validation Manager, the easier your work becomes.
Often Validation Manager is purchased when a big verification is coming up. But due to challenges in instrument installations or for other reasons, the schedule of the big verification is sometimes postponed.
If you wait for a month or two after the training before starting to use Validation Manager, it will be really difficult for you to get your verification running smoothly. And even if there are no problems with the schedule, starting from the biggest and most complex project might be overwhelming.
That’s why we recommend to use Validation Manager to smaller needs first. You get to rehearse using Validation Manager so that everything will be clear when you finally get your hands on the big verification. And you will get benefits from those small verifications as well.
Starting to use Validation Manager is a good place to start a habit of recurring parallel instrument comparisons. You can also use Validation Manager to measure lot-to-lot variation, validate your in-house tests, do cross-site comparisons and extraction method comparisons. What’s more, you can gather your control data to Validation Manager.
There’s a lot that you can do. And doing these things in Validation Manager helps you standardize your verifications, save your time, and become a fluent Validation Manager user.
When things go bumpy
Most of our users find Validation Manager quite intuitive to use. Yet, on their very first verifications, many of them encounter things that they find puzzling or don’t know what to do.
When that happens, you should contact our customer support. Use the chat feature on Validation Manager or send us an e-mail that describes what you were trying to do and where you got stuck.
There are no stupid questions. Our customer support genuinely wants to help you. In most cases we have rather simple answers to help you get your workflow through.
We offer customer support in English and in Finnish. We are able to process questions in some other West European languages as well, but it may cause some delay, and at the moment all answers will be given in English or in Finnish anyway. Sometimes we can also schedule a Teams meeting to help you with your tasks.
If you feel like you need intensive support to get your first verification done, you may get a little discouraged. But experience has shown that practically all of our users are fast to learn to use the product in a way that saves their time compared to how they worked with verifications before. Many users ask multiple questions during the first few weeks, but that’s just part of their learning process. The more you use Validation Manager, the easier it is for you to find your way around, and the less need there is for our help.
Remember that you can and should always contact our support when you have questions. In addition to helping you in the situation at hand, we use your questions and feedback when we plan our product development, user guide improvements and our blog content.
The check-up phase
After you’ve used Validation Manager for a couple of weeks we’ll have a short check-up meeting to see how things are going. The purpose of this meeting is to reserve time to discuss about your impressions and experiences in using Validation Manager. We’ll make sure everything is set up and works as discussed during the kick-off (both from ours and the customer’s side).
You get a chance to ask questions that have arisen and we will answer them. Together we can find ways to fine-tune your processes to make things easier for you.
We will also
Discuss about your next upcoming verifications
See if there are needs related to instrument integrations or report templates
Seek to find clear steps to widen your use of Validation Manager and get it better integrated into your processes
How to make it bigger?
Validation Manager can be used as a tool to ease your work with verifications. But it can be a lot more. It gives you
better visibility to your results than any Excel based solution can give
a possibility to standardize your processes and update your verification protocols to follow the latest guidelines
a reason to reshape your data management to get rid of manual work
time to concentrate on things that are relevant and cannot be automatized
more information about your laboratory quality than what you had thought to be possible.
If you want to, you can order additional trainings. You can use them to deepen your skills with Validation Manager. In addition to product trainings, we also have trainings to give you better understanding about the statistics behind the verification protocols.
And if you have any ideas on how to make the product even better, we are always happy to hear about them. So far we’ve built Validation Manager in close collaboration with our customers, making our product development decisions based on the needs of our users. That’s the way we intend to continue with our product portfolio. Your feedback makes it easier for us to serve you better.