Miriam Boudreaux’s picture

By: Miriam Boudreaux

If you have ever wondered what the difference was between a gap analysis, an internal audit, or a pre-assessment, you might not be alone. When trying to figure out whether your company meets the requirements of a standard, such as one the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), chances are you are trying to decide which one of these activities is best for you. Let me explain the difference and give you a clear idea of the goal for each one.

Gap analysis

A gap analysis is mainly a determination of the degree of conformance of your organization to the requirements of a specification or standard. A gap analysis is mainly a document review or a “show me the evidence” activity, evidence which usually will come in the form of a record or document. During a gap analysis, only very minor auditing is done; rather, key process owner or project stakeholders provide evidence that they have met the requirements set forth in the specification or standard.

J. LeRoy Ward’s picture

By: J. LeRoy Ward

Organizations that struggle with outsourced projects which have gone bad or failed completely usually cite vendor management issues as the reason. It’s as if the vendor is always to blame, and the buyer is completely blameless. Rarely is this the case. Upon closer inspection, and in nine out of 10 instances, the root cause of these often-unspecified vendor management problems that allegedly lead a project astray can be traced to poorly defined requirements. Although clear requirements are at the foundation of any project, they are even more critical for outsourced ones where the rule of law, in the form of a contractual relationship, governs the nature of the relationship between buyer and seller.

The results of a new survey conducted by ESI International show that the top risks of concern to organizations when outsourcing can also be traced to poor requirements management (figure 1).

Figure 1: Top five risks for outsourced projects

Approaching requirements

The simplest way to attain better outsourced project requirements is to start by thinking about four things:

By: Donnelly

(Donnelly Custom Manufacturing: Alexandria, MI) -- Despite the more than 60 years since training within industry (TWI) was created in the United States to ramp up production of war materiel during World War II, implanting TWI skills in an organization still takes great planning and effort. Patrick Graupp and Robert J. Wrona, authors of the upcoming  Implementing TWI: Creating and Managing a Skills Based Culture (CRC Press, 2010), use their 10 years of experience in implanting TWI in companies across the United States and around the world to describe critical elements and point out key stumbling blocks to a successful TWI implementation.

By: Jason Stine

The foundation of any laboratory’s reputation is built on confidence in its ability to provide correct and reliable data. ISO/IEC 17025, subclause 4.1.5 d, requires that your management system “have policies and procedures to avoid involvement in any activities that would diminish confidence in its competence, impartiality, judgment, or operational integrity.”

How can your laboratory effectively provide “confidence in its competence, impartiality, judgment or operational integrity?” This can be ensured through the use of detailed policies, procedures, and a program that specifically addresses these topics.

Laboratories often state within their quality manuals that they ensure the integrity of their operations but provide limited details for how this is ensured. There may also be some kind of a confidentially or ethics agreement in place that personnel signed when hired. Is this enough to ensure that all employees fully understand and retain the importance of this topic and will comply?


The laboratory should have a policy in place addressing the lab’s exact position on ethics, integrity, and code of conduct. Based on this policy, procedures should be put in place that define exactly how the policy will be implemented and ensured.

By: Kevin Lavelle

Clamp-on ultrasonic flow meters are widely used throughout industrial processes in many industries because their noninvasive nature confers inherent advantages over other flow-meter technologies. Material compatibility, contamination, and corrosion risk factors are eliminated. Process integrity is unaffected, and installation costs are much lower.

A portable ultrasonic flow meter contains the same fundamental hardware as a fixed ultrasonic meter. Both use a process transmitter connected to a pair of sensors that are attached to the process piping. But a portable ultrasonic flow meter has unique capabilities that differentiate it from a standard fixed instrument.

By: Washington University

Melanoma is one of the less common types of skin cancer, but it accounts for the majority of skin cancer deaths (about 75%). The five-year survival rate for early-stage melanoma is high (98%), but the rate drops precipitously if the cancer is detected late or there is recurrence.

So a great deal rides on the accuracy of initial surgery, where the goal is to remove as little tissue as possible while obtaining “clean margins” all around the tumor.

Up till now, no imaging technique has been up to the task of resolving the melanoma accurately enough to guide surgery. Instead, surgeons tend to cut well beyond the visible margins of the lesion to be certain they remove all the malignant tissue.

However, two scientists at Washington University in St. Louis have developed technologies that promise to solve this difficult problem. Their solution, described in the July issue of ACS Nano, combines an imaging technique developed by Lihong Wang, Ph.D., the Gene K. Beare Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering; and a contrast agent developed by Younan Xia, Ph.D., the James M. McKelvey Professor of Biomedical Engineering. Together, the imaging technique and contrast agent produce images of startling 3-D clarity.

Abdullah Telmesani Ph.D.’s picture

By: Abdullah Telmesani Ph.D.

Achieving higher levels of ethical conduct is a balancing act. For corporations, ethical attitude and sustainable success are achieved by striking a balance between the bottom line and the interests of employees and the community. Employees’ ethical behavior and success, on the other hand, are achieved by balancing their personal interests with their companies’ interest.

The formula above seems to be partially compromised, according to Deloitte’s recent 2010 Ethics & Workplace survey. In their struggle to survive the recession, some companies have had to make drastic decisions that are not typical to their corporate cultural norms. These decisions and their subsequent actions naturally lead to employees’ uncertainty about their organizations’ intentions.

Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest’s picture

By: Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest

Story update 8/26/2010: We incorrectly stated that Dr. Richard A. Spritz was from the University of Colorado in Boulder. He is actually at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver.


Researchers at the University of Calgary, University of Colorado, and University of San Francisco are using 3-D scanning in a study that may someday help children who suffer from cleft lip or palate. A severe cleft lip, in particular, can be devastating for a child in terms of physical and emotional health, as well as for the family—several corrective surgeries are required to correct a cleft lip, often leading to more than one hundred thousand dollars in medical expenses.

Through this unique study, which compares the morphology (shape) of thousands of 3-D scanned faces to the DNA of each of the scanned subjects, researchers hope to identify genetic markers that point to the possibility of a person having a cleft lip or palette, explains Benedikt Hallgrimsson, a professor for the department of cell biology and anatomy at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. 

Gartner Inc.’s picture

By: Gartner Inc.

With the lines between work and nonwork already badly frayed, Gartner Inc. predicts that the nature of work will undergo 10 key changes through 2020. Organizations will need to plan for increasingly chaotic environments that are out of their direct control, and adaptation must involve adjusting to all 10 of the trends.

“Work will become less routine, characterized by increased volatility, hyperconnectedness, ‘swarming’ and more,” says Tom Austin, vice president and Gartner fellow. By 2015, 40 percent or more of an organization’s work will be “nonroutine,” up from 25 percent in 2010. “People will swarm more often and work solo less,” says Austin. “They’ll work with others with whom they have few links, and teams will include people outside the control of the organization. In addition, simulation, visualization, and unification technologies, working across yottabytes of data per second, will demand an emphasis on new perceptual skills.”

Organizations will need to determine which of the 10 key changes in the nature of work will affect them, and consider whether radically different technology governance models will be required.

Barbara A. Cleary’s picture

By: Barbara A. Cleary

A spate of cartoons and commentary throughout the summer has lampooned BP, Halliburton, Transocean, and Cameron International for their apparent inability to plan timely control measures that might have constrained the destruction after the blowout on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. A Congressional hearing likewise roundly criticized leaders of these corporations for failing to anticipate the possibility of a major leak as well as subsequent failures of back-up systems.

This debate will continue to rage, no doubt, but in the heat of this discussion, it may be useful to reflect on the possibilities inherent in failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) for preventing or responding to defects in product or process outcomes. Because no industry is immune to product or service failure, FMEA provides a systematic analysis technique that helps identify potential problems. FMEA is utilized in all industries, from manufacturing to education to health care. The method was popularized by the auto industry but is clearly useful to any industry that experiences failures in systems or design.

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