ALSPAC, University of Bristol

   

Process Consultant & Project Manager

ALSPAC (short for “Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children”, also known as “Children of the 90s”) is the University of Bristol‘s internationally respected research department which has been collecting medical, clinical and genetic data for bioinformatics research on a cohort of approximately 30,000 participants since its inception in 1991. This data is then used by researchers worldwide to help do everything from determining the contributory causes of peanut allergies, to disproving any possible link between MMR vaccinations and autism.

The programme was nearing the end of a 5-year grant-funded period and restructuring. There was substantial process and procedural knowledge in staff’s heads, but very little of it documented except where legally mandated (e.g. lab procedures for HTA compliance). We successfully project-managed 40 staff (mostly long-term permanent), many demoralised and de-motivated under notice of redundancy, to get 300+ standard operating procedures (SOPs) written in a very aggressive timescale, before evaluating and installing a document management system and finally uploading all documentation into it.

Despite having no previous clinical or medical experience, we were responsible for identifying all undocumented processes & standard operating procedures (SOPs), together with those staff who had knowledge of them. We then designed a self-documenting template (subsequently approved by the University Executive) to give consistent style to process and procedure documentation, in anticipation of a forthcoming exercise for ALSPAC to achieve ISO accreditation we worked closely with the project manager handling this exercise). We then devised and ran a number of hands-on interactive training workshops teaching all prospective authors how to correctly document their working procedures and processes.

With the 300+ new procedure documents written before the Christmas redundancy deadline, we designed and implemented a document management and review process, and proposed and confirmed the detailed requirements for a document management repository. We then evaluated a number of document management systems, including SharePoint Online, Alfresco Community, Alfresco Enterprise and Documentum before obtaining budgetary approval, and implementing an Alfresco Community 3.4 ECM repository to hold all process and procedure documentation and finally uploading all documents into it.

Keywords

standard operating procedures, SOP, documentation template, ISO accreditation, devised & ran training workshops, designed & implemented document management & review process, document management system, document management repository, SharePoint Online, Alfresco Community, Alfresco Enterprise, ECM, project manager, project-managed 40 staff

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