Bad Blood

As that iconic philosopher Taylor Swift reminds us, when behaviour and communication go bad in the workplace, it can mean some Bad Blood. We’re often subject to human foibles like Liam’s loud chewing. Or Lauren’s leg jiggling when she talks. Or Lachlan’s tendency to use the word “like” in every sentence. Plus, it’s possible that …read more »

Future Trends for Labs in 2024

It’s time once again to get out the crystal ball and see what future trends await us. Warning– there are no predictions about future love life, jobs, or pandemics and we are definitely NOT psychics!   However, as we step into the new year, the business landscape is poised for significant transformations driven by technological …read more »

Problem solving: When Honesty is the best policy

  What happens when a management system to identify the causes of problems fails? Over Christmas, shoppers in Japan had an unexpected experience. Several hundred customers who ordered the “strawberry frill shortcake” later complained the cake had arrived damaged.   In response to complaints, the Department Store issued the following statement:   “We sincerely apologise …read more »

Plan for success

  It’s been said that failing to plan is planning to fail. But sometimes we’re paralysed by the prospect of getting started and the time it takes to plan. Besides, there’s that other adage of “the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry”. So you can only take these sayings with a grain …read more »

Solving your communication catastrophes

You might have heard about the latest Sydney-centric communication stuff-up. It involves the Spaghetti Junction of the Rozelle Interchange. One reason for the traffic chaos came from poor signage. This miscommunication meant that there were extraordinary traffic jams and hours of lost productivity! It shows how a lack of communication can lead to frustration. It’s …read more »

The Quality – Value Link

written by Maree Stuart Himeji Castle I’ve been fortunate to visit several World Heritage sites over the past couple of weeks. Places like Hiroshima, Himeji Castle, the Palace of Versailles and Berlin’s Museum Island. I’ve also watched Oppenheimer in that same period. What’s the link between these things and why would I be writing about them …read more »

Everything you need to know about sampling and sample management

written by Maree Stuart The things labs test and calibrate don’t magically appear out of nowhere.  Somewhere along the line, there is a sample taken. Many labs aren’t in charge of sampling. That’s something left to clients, clinical staff and production line staff. Just because it’s somebody else’s responsibility does not mean laboratories can ignore it. …read more »

Method Selection: A Step-by-Step Guide

written by Maree Stuart Method selection is one area that many labs take for granted. You often only have one choice…….or so you think. After all, when you have a hammer, everything is a nail, right? In this article we’ll explore some of the questions labs should be asking so that the right method is used …read more »

Can you rely on your suppliers?

written by Maree Stuart We’ve all been disappointed by our suppliers from time to time, especially in times of supply chain constraints. Imagine being the CEO of the Commonwealth Games Federation a couple of days ago. You’re quietly minding your own business, basking in the last rays of glory that was Birmingham 2022 and looking forward …read more »

Quality Control: When doing your best is not good enough

written by Maree Stuart I recently came across a process that went along like this: Team completes an activity Quality control by review of records and report by a supervisor Quality control by review of the records and report by a technical manager Quality control by review of the records and report by a committee of …read more »

We have to talk

written by Maree Stuart Ever had one of those terrible moments where you have to have that difficult conversation with a family member, friend or work colleague? You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t need to take a big deep breath before initiating one of those kinds of conversations. Having to do this in a workplace, …read more »

5 ways to deal with Complaints

written by Maree Stuart Oh Alan, I would give everything, not to be like him.   Would you want to be Alan Joyce right now? He’s the butt of many jokes, including this one from The Shovel:     With QANTAS seen to be the stand-out performer in poor customer service and failures to respond to …read more »

Total Control

written by Maree Stuart Would you sell your soul for total control like Martha Davis in The Motels? Sadly, your documentation system isn’t just a ‘set and forget’. They require reviewing, updating and managing to ensure they’re accurate, up-to-date, and available. And that’s where a document control system comes in. A good system allows your documents …read more »

The Essential Lab Guide to QC

written by Maree Stuart I had a conversation with someone recently where we discussed what was meant by the concept “Quality”. The discussion quickly reached the subject of quality control and it was clear that there was a lack of understanding of what this term meant.   We recently wrote about Quality Basics and included some …read more »

I’m a natural-born leader

written by Maree Stuart It’s a thing you might hear from applicants for jobs in your workplace, “I am a natural-born leader”. And it’s a statement that is rarely questioned as you nod sagely. We can debate the accuracy of this statement along the lines of nature versus nurture. But that’s not what is actually important. …read more »

Quality in the Spotlight

written by Maree Stuart Getting the basics right I’m sure if someone asked you what did “Quality” entail, you’d have a list of things that are done. Some of those things might be drawn from topics and requirements that appear in Standards like ISO 17025, ISO 15189, ISO 17020 and ISO 9001. Some of them might …read more »

New Year Resolutions

written by Maree Stuart Do you make new year’s resolutions each year? A survey found that in 2022, just 23% of survey participants intended to make new year’s resolutions. The most popular resolutions for 2022 were living healthier (23%), personal improvement and happiness (21%), and losing weight (20%). Anyway, who really cares? By the time we …read more »

12 Days of a Lab Christmas – Day 11

written by Maree Stuart As we head into the silly season we are delighted to present: The MAS Management Systems 12 Days of a Lab Christmas! On the eleventh day of Christmas a key supplier informed us of serious quality issues with their products This is probably one of the least expected things that could go …read more »

12 Days of a Lab Christmas – Day 10

written by Maree Stuart As we head into the silly season we are delighted to present: The MAS Management Systems 12 Days of a Lab Christmas! On the tenth day of Christmas we discovered we had missed calibration of our most used piece of equipment Issues to do with equipment and calibration are often areas where …read more »

Trends and Predictions for 2023

written by Maree Stuart We’re starting to get that sense of a new year right around the corner. The Melbourne Cup has been run and won. Hints of slightly warmer weather are appearing. Unless you’re in Melbourne and then you have our sympathies and hopes for warmer temperatures from now. And the sounds of Christmas are …read more »

Happy World Quality Week!

written by Maree Stuart It’s World Quality Week and this year’s theme is “Quality Conscience: Doing the right thing”. It’s a good opportunity to pause for thought. What does it mean to act with a “Quality Conscience”? Our conscience is our moral sense of right and wrong. We develop this from birth, with influence from our …read more »

The best kept secrets to GCP (Good Compliance Practice)

written by Maree Stuart Compliance is big news! The woes of Optus following its data breach keep on coming. And we can look forward to investigations by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and ACMA to help understand why this breach of data security requirements occurred. Hopefully, we’ll also get some insights into how these …read more »

The Lab Manager Conversations part seven – Quality

We’ve been speaking to lab managers and leaders about their roles and their challenges. These conversations have been collated into a series of articles that will probably resonate not only with lab leaders, but those across other businesses as well. While their pathways may have been somewhat different, all our respondents have clocked up well …read more »

The Lab Manager Conversations part one – Staffing

We’ve been speaking to lab managers and leaders about their roles and challenges. These conversations have been collated into a series of articles that will probably resonate not only with lab leaders, but those across other businesses as well. While their pathways may have been somewhat different, all our respondents have clocked up well over …read more »

Navigating the 7 Cs of communication

Every day we need to communicate. And whether it’s grunts from teenagers or the long, winding conversations we have with old friends, we also need to interpret what’s being said. Effective communication in the workplace is critical. Management is often judged by the quality of communications with the rest of the organisation. Teams judge their …read more »

Process improvements for productivity

written by Maree Stuart Since accredited or certified labs have solid systems in place, you could be forgiven for thinking there’s nothing much else that needs to be done. After all, your existing business processes are tried and true and mean that you can navigate those accreditation or certification visits relatively unscathed. But (there’s always a …read more »

Are you drowning in documents?

Imagine having all the documents you deal with in a week piled on your desk. If you were to include print outs of your work and personal emails the pile would probably be too high to see over! Clearly, you’re not going to do this (no time, waste of trees) but thinking about that pile …read more »


In our last article we looked at why you need a training plan and what you should consider when developing one. This week, we’re looking at the best ways to deliver that knowledge. Training isn’t a one-off event. It’s a continuous process that requires monitoring and upgrading as your business environment changes. Professional development isn’t a …read more »

Marvin’s Guide to Quality – part 2

written by Maree Stuart Welcome back! In our last episode, we explored how to enhance Quality Management through automation and digitisation with a little help from Marvin the Paranoid Android. We discussed how digitisation and technology could help with managing people, documents, and QC. This week we’ll look at facilities, equipment and purchasing. Facilities management Facility …read more »

Marvin’s Guide to Quality – part one

written by Maree Stuart In the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Marvin the Paranoid Android is a robot and has a ‘brain the size of a planet’, but he is seldom asked to use this capability. Instead, people ask him to perform simple tasks, like opening doors and picking up pieces of paper. Back in the …read more »

5 proven tips for accreditation mastery

Those gurus that promise your lab will obtain accreditation (or re-accreditation) in seven days or less are like those recipes that tell you caramelised onions will only take five minutes. It just isn’t going to happen. We’ve certainly assisted clients to obtain accreditation quickly. This meant that with a lot of work, focus and effort, …read more »

Is Quality still the key to success?

If someone were to ask whether your business had a Quality focus, how would you answer? Would it be an enthusiastic, “Well of course! Quality is at the core of everything we do!” Or would it be more like, “Sure. We’ve got that document thingy we follow. We put it in a glass cabinet, so …read more »


written by Maree Stuart It’s a new school term and that means it won’t be long before students receive their next report card. If your lab were to receive a report card, how do you think you’d do? Hopefully it won’t look like this! When it comes to labs, you already know it’s important to stay …read more »

There’s a fraction too much friction

Ever since caveman days we’ve relied on others to ensure positive outcomes. Heading out on your own to grab a mammoth because you felt like a steak would have ended in a swift and probably painful death. Being on Zoom or Teams meetings means we’ve forgotten all our colleagues’ little quirks. As we’re slowly emerging …read more »

Getting to the root of the problem

It’s Friday morning and as you walk out of your front door, you look up and think what a beautiful day it is. The overnight rain has left the air crisp and fresh. Stepping out onto the path, your foot slips on wet leaves and you feel yourself falling. You put your hand out to …read more »

Does your lab have a disaster plan?

You may have excellent systems in place. You and your staff work as safely as possible. But despite your precautions, there’s always a possibility that something may go horribly wrong. That’s why having a disaster plan in place is so important. While it may not be a specific requirement of ISO standards it will add …read more »

How to keep NATA happy

We know you’re busy. For business owners or managers, there’s always plenty of juggling to be done. And with Covid restrictions thrown into the mix, you’d be forgiven for thinking that keeping an Accreditation Body happy is the last thing on your mind! However, we also know that keeping your business processes and procedures up …read more »

Preparing for your assessment

You’ve received the notification. Your assessment is coming up in two weeks and the team will be arriving at 8:30am on the day. Deep cleansing breaths. With a bit of preparation, assessment day may not be a breeze, but you’ll definitely feel in control. Being prepared shows your assessment team that your organisation is professional …read more »

How to ask good questions

Many of us can spend large chunks of our day seeking information. Whether it’s an update from a team member, negotiations with a contractor or trying to get more than an ‘ugh’ from a teenager, we usually do this by asking questions. Asking questions fuels learning, improves interpersonal bonding and rapport plus it makes us …read more »

Changing your mind about risk management

“Opportunity and risk come in pairs” Bangambiki Habyarimana, The Great Pearl of Wisdom Risk isn’t a chore to wade through a few times a year. As the quote above says, it can be something positive and goes hand-in-hand with opportunities. Many different companies share similar risks, like a poor economic outlook over the short-term (well, …read more »

Shhh it’s a secret – confidentiality in the lab

We’ve all heard the expression knowledge is power. In the hands of cybercriminals, knowledge is also big business. In a lab setting, it’s understood that keeping information safe and secure is in the best interests of clients and your business. If you hold accreditation or certification, it’s also a requirement of the standard. ISO standards …read more »

Quality: A balancing act

We believe in seeking out and sharing ideas that will support your business to be better and smarter. Different perspectives on quality and business practices may provoke conversations in your workplace that lead to new and better ways of doing things. We reached out to our network of experts and asked for their perspectives on …read more »

Supercharge your systems!

Many organisations have a quality (or environment, or safety) management system. If you’re in one of these organisations, then I bet you’ve sometimes felt like the ‘system’ rules your life, rather than you ruling the system. How did it get to be this way? More importantly, how can you change this? It probably got to …read more »

5 powerful ways a consultant can help your business

How many times have you heard the expression ‘two heads are better than one’? Or heard someone bemoan the fact that they could do with an extra pair of hands. By using a business consultant, you can add an extra brain and another pair of hands without getting bogged down in the process of a …read more »

The road to high performance in sustainability

We believe in seeking out information and ideas that will support your business to be better and smarter. Different perspectives on quality and business practices may provoke conversations in your workplace. This can lead to new and better ways of doing things. So we’re reaching out to our network of experts and asking for their …read more »

A trio of quality thinkers

Anyone who has ever been involved in quality or project management would have heard the names Deming, Juran and Crosby. Their contributions have had long lasting ramifications and made us all think differently about what quality is, what it means and how to achieve it. Over the coming months, we’ll be running a series of …read more »

Lab report writing 101

You are an expert in your lab. You know your procedures and can carry these out with your eyes closed (although from a safety perspective we hope this isn’t happening!). Once you’ve carried out your activity, you can put that information into your data collection device and that spits out your  lab report. Or perhaps …read more »

What’s a quality management system and do you need it?

According to the American Society for Quality website a quality management system (QMS) is defined as: ‘…a formalized system that documents processes, procedures, and responsibilities for achieving quality policies and objectives. A QMS helps coordinate and direct an organization’s activities to meet customer and regulatory requirements and improve its effectiveness and efficiency on a continuous …read more »

How do you approach problems?

In an ideal world, everything would run smoothly with only very small bumps in the road – enough to keep us interested but not enough to cause major headaches. However, as we all know, the world is seldom ideal. We all have ways to deal with problems that arise in our personal lives. But what …read more »

7 tips for choosing the Right Consultant

As I sit here watching the British Conservatives announce their next leader, I got to thinking. How do you know you are choosing the right person for the job? It’s a very important task and one that requires a lot of consideration. Choosing the right consultant to help you realise your objectives and dreams for …read more »

Design your Lab to be Future-Ready!

In my work, I come across lots of laboratories wanting to improve the design and space in which they work. Let’s face it, improvement is not just about documents! Where do you go to get some professional advice on this important improvement project? ‘Laboratory Architect’ is a very niche profession. It makes sense though – …read more »