Category: SOP

Thanksgiving SOP musings

So, what has Thanksgiving and SOP’s have to do with each other? PLENTY! Every recipe you use, is an SOP. Same with every instruction manual, etc. Just as with SOP’s, there are good ones and bad ones. The good ones, may be annoying and pedantic, but they explain every step in the process. Many recipes look like this (a Famous Sidney Harris cartoon)….

A recipe that is like the above image, is one I tried after Thanksgiving. In that recipe, one was using leftover stuffing (like there is any stuffing leftover!) for dumplings. The way the recipe stated how to make the dumpling one wan not sure what the mixture was to make the dumplings besides the stuffing. It took me several readings and sitting down with a beer to really figure out what they wanted.

It was not a well written recipe and not what your recipe (SOP) should look like. Every step needs to be explained and that is so anyone, in your organization (or for recipes anyone in a kitchen), can reproduce what you are doing. This is the key, with SOP’s, BE PEDANTIC but, also use plain language. So many owner’s manuals, for TV’s, etc., are written in engineering language and that does not help the average user.

So, if you need help rewriting or making your SOP’s understandable, GeoMetrick Enterprises is there to help.

David Slomczynski, Ph.D; GeoMetrick Enterprises

Calibrations: The More the Merrier?

Actually, more isn’t necessarily better but none is not an option either.

Calibration curves are used to actually determine concentrations of compounds of interest in your samples.This idea being that the lowest and highest unknown concentrations are bracketed by at least 2 standard concentrations from your standard curve.  If a unknown is outside you calibration range, then you need to redo, to bracket that concentration in your curve, as long as the curve is still linear. If the curve cannot be increased, then dilutions are needed to bring the unknown concentration in the calibration range.

One can talk about the time interval between calibrations  (weekly, monthly, etc.). This interval depends on how complex or dirty the samples are. If degradation of the separation is occurring, then a calibration is warranted. EPA test methods, in particular, say what the recommended calibration interval is. Also, if the column is removed for any reason, then a calibration is warranted.

Also, there is the use of duplicate samples, calibration check samples, and spiked samples that can be used during a run. These samples are to access the viability of the calibration curve.  All of these should be used to some extent.

There is quite a bit of information in this post. The point is, one should not ignore these points because they are hard or make analysis more complicated. These should be used to better the analysis.

David Slomczynski, Ph.D; GeoMetrick Enterprises


SOP’s aren’t for SAPS (Why you need SOPs and what they are) part 3

In part 1, I described what SOP’s are and in part 2 covered what they cover and the information included in them. Well, this is Part 3, where I will describe why they are important to you. This is the hardest point to get across to people, in general.

What is so important about SOP’s? EVERYTHING, there, I said it. They help employees, organizations, etc. all follow the same steps in a process, assay, or writing. This helps to make it all more reproducible.

Let’s say you are a multinational company and there is a new assay, that was developed in one lab and you want the rest of the labs, in the company, to use this assay. How best to share it, with an SOP. A good SOP explains everything, making it easier to transfer this assay across the company.

In closing, SOP’s aren’t for SAPS but they are needed for quality and reproducible work.

Geometrick Enterprises can now help companies with SOP writing and review. If you don’t know where to start, how to start, etc. that is where we come in. We will try to make the process as painless and as simple as possible.

David Slomczynski, Ph.D; Geometrick Enterprises

SOP’s aren’t for SAPS (Why you need SOPs and what they are) part 2

In part 1, of my SOP blog post, I described why you need to use SOP’s (SOP’s aren’t for SAPS (Part 1))  and now I will describe what has to be in an SOP and what needs to be documented by an SOP.

An SOP is a living document that describes any process and/or assay. It is a document that
covers anything where standardization is involved.

So, what needs to be in SOP? Think of the SOP as a pedantic, step by step description of your process.  Every little step, detail, manipulation, etc. If you, in a step, stand on one foot and bay at the Moon for 5 minutes, well then that has to be included. Leaving out any step or detail, no matter how trivial, will result in others not being able to exactly reproduce results from your SOP. This is important since an SOP is your document which all employees will refer to.

It can be a daunting task, writing down every step you did in an assay, a fermentation process, or even writing for an SOP, and for most, that is what makes SOP’s such a daunting document. But, once it is written, you have a document that everyone can use and can be trained with. It is basically a little pain at the beginning for a big reward later.

David Slomczynski, Ph.D; Geometrick Enterprises

SOP’s aren’t for SAPS (Why you need SOPs and what they are) part 1

SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures) seem obvious to many but aren’t understood, utilized, or not even written. Too many times SOP’s seem to be written by lawyer or some savant to whom the language is obvious. That being said, an SOP is important for several reasons. They are:

  1. It standardizes your methods and procedures. (Internal)
  2. It shows there is a standardization in your company (Internal and External)
  3. Makes it easier to train new employees. (Internal)
  4. When an audit is done, SOP’s help with tracing issues. (Internal and External)
  5. Show them to customers and/or Funding  Agencies to indicate your proficiency. (External)
  6. SOP’s should be used when you are involved with one of the various ISO designations. (External)

So, there are reasons to have and to write SOP’s.

In the next part I will describe what is needed in an SOP.

David Slomczynski, Ph.D; Geometrick Enterprises