Improving the delivery of services

The Problem

The Wastewater Management Authority (WMA) is an established corporate body under the Wastewater Management Authority (WMA) Act 2000, and is responsible for all matters relating to the collection, treatment and disposal of wastewater in Mauritius. It operates as an autonomous organization under the aegis of the Ministry of Energy and Public Utilities, with specific functions. Its main objectives are:
• To protect the water and marine environment of Mauritius and ensure the sustainability of its water resources
• To halt and reverse the trend of wastewater pollution on the island and its coastal zones
• To provide a high quality wastewater service in Mauritius
• To train, develop and ensure a committed and highly effective human resource
• To form sustainable partnership with all stakeholders, sensitive to the preservation of the environment

Wastewater Laboratory
The Wastewater Laboratory is the analytical section of the WMA and is involved in the collection and sampling of effluent from entities such as Wastewater Treatment Plants, industries and hotels and at times from other potentially polluting activities. The Wastewater Laboratory collects wastewater samples from the above-mentioned premises and subjects them to physico-chemical, chemical, microbiological, trace metal and organic analyses to assess the quality of the effluents or wastewaters and determine whether their chemical and microbiological constituents comply with the Environmental Standards in force in Mauritius with the overall objective of monitoring pollution caused by the wastewater discharges. Analytical results generated by the Wastewater Laboratory are forwarded to the Pollution Control Unit and Operation & Maintenance Sections of the WMA and other organisations involved in the protection of the environment for eventual action and enforcement. The Wastewater Laboratory is fully equipped with sophisticated automated systems to carry out its routine testing activities.

Past situation: The Wastewater Laboratory was operating with a simple Quality System in place where many of the activities performed were not fully documented. Emphasis was mainly laid on the technical aspects which include testing of wastewaters and submitting reports to clients. Not enough attention was paid to the service delivered to the clients. As such no Customer Satisfaction Measurement system was in place to gauge the satisfaction of the customers using the data generated by the Wastewater Laboratory, and other services provided to them by the Wastewater Laboratory in terms of assistance and advice on wastewater analysis, treatment and other related issues.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
The solution: The Wastewater Laboratory has established a fully performing Quality Management System (QMS) based on the International Standard ISO/IEC 17025:2005 which includes all the general requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories, and has successfully achieved accreditation in June 2010 with the Mauritius Accreditation Service (MAURITAS) which is the official accreditation granting body in Mauritius.
The process was phased as follows until the whole QMS was set up and fully operational: drafting of Quality Manual containing all policies, procedures and instructions, and their implementation, drafting of all associated documents and operation logs, validation of test methods, and conducting internal audits and management reviews.
As such the lab has developed policies and procedures for the following: document control, review of requests, tenders and contracts, subcontracting of tests and calibration, purchasing of services and supplies, service to the customers, complaints, control of non-conforming activities, improvement, corrective action, preventive action, control of records, internal audits, management reviews, Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS), Occupational Health & Safety, ethics, accommodation and environment, test and calibration methods, method validation, equipment, measurement traceability, sampling, handling of test and calibration items and reporting of results among others.
The laboratory has also set up a Customer Satisfaction Feedback mechanism to measure the service delivered by the laboratory in terms of schedule execution, confidentiality, competency and standard of testing activities, customer complaint handling, on-time delivery and contract performance. As such the laboratory intends to ensure that operations and services meet customer requirements in a timely manner.
By implementing a standard approach to quality with an effective Quality Management System, the lab also intends to correct non-conformities that may arise in the system, carry out preventive actions, and above all works towards continual improvement of the system to constantly respond to the changing demands of the customers. The Wastewater Laboratory’s vision is based on its core values and purpose which goes as follows “To be the Benchmark and a Highly Recognized Analytical Testing Laboratory of Water and Wastewater in Mauritius and the Sub-Saharan Africa Region”. In order to assist and maintain the consistency of purpose that enables the attainment of the vision, the lab has set out the following mission
• To provide high standard service products using fully optimized processes that ensures efficiency and effectiveness. Analytical testing services focus on customer needs and expectations based on regular satisfaction measurement and feedback.
• To serve the Parent organization in helping it achieves the set objectives as per the applicable Wastewater Management Authority Act under the aegis of the Ministry of Energy & Public utilities.
• To serve the market with its segmented customers through the Wastewater Management Authority, Ministry of Renewable Energy & Public Utilities, and other related ministries and parastatal bodies including public/private organization and individuals.
• To make full use of equipment, means, methods, standard materials, standard references available and applicable technologies to ensure reliable results through competent analytical testing activities.

The beneficiaries of the above solution are: the Wastewater Laboratory and its clients.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The idea that all testing and calibration laboratories should be accredited to the International Standard ISO/IEC 17025:2005 stems from a Government Decision during a Cabinet meeting. Based on that decision, the Wastewater Laboratory embarked on the process of accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025:2005.
The following contributed to the design and implementation of the project:
 Top management of the WMA represented by its General Manager
 The Quality Steering Committee (QSC) comprising of Top Management Representative, Quality Manager, Technical Manager and their Deputies, and Quality Coordinators
 All laboratory staffs namely the Laboratory Manager, Scientific Officer, Senior Laboratory Technician, Laboratory Technicians, Laboratory Assistant, Laboratory Attendant, Word Processing Operator, Clerical Officer, Office Attendant and drivers.
 Guidance to design and implement the project was received by Consultants.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
The main objectives/strategies of the initiative were to:
 Accredit the Wastewater Laboratory to the International Standard ISO/IEC 17025:2005 which is the International Standard for Testing and Calibration Laboratories.
 Establish a performing Quality Management System which is fully documented. The aim of establishing the QMS was to build confidence in the ability of the laboratory to deliver the desired product and service, and improve service delivery on the whole. On the other hand, the initiative would also provide consistency and satisfaction in terms of methods, materials, equipment, etc.

The strategies for implementing the initiative are:
 Markets: attract new markets, customer base diversification, gaining competitive advantage, increasing income generation.
 Organization: Improve structure, responsibilities and accountability.
 Product & Service: Improve quality of testing activities and service delivery.
 Process: Improve facility, capability, capacity, quality and reliability.
 Personnel: Increase competence, motivation and other personnel related issues like Health & Safety
 Others: Improve aspects like environment, communication…etc.

The above were established by the members of the Quality Steering Committee and implemented by all laboratory staffs.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
The key development and implementation steps, in chronological order, were
1. Conducting of a gap analysis to identify the gaps between the requirements of ISO Standard 17025:2005 and the existing system at the Wastewater Laboratory
2. Designing of the Quality Management System
3. Building of the Quality Management System
4. Deploying resources to implement tasks
5. Setting up control systems
6. Measuring progress achieved
7. Improving the established system

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
Main obstacles encountered and how they were overcome:
1. Mindset on old work culture among the staffs: The obstacle was overcome by shaping a new work culture among the staffs by having regular meetings, presentations, trainings and workshops to expose the notion and importance of QMS. Staffs were constantly kept motivated.
2. Financial constraint: The obstacle was overcome through budget re-allocation and seeking of assistance from subcontracted experts and consultants.
3. Staff constraint: The Wastewater Laboratory is faced with staff constraint. Implementation of ISO is time-consuming process. The staffs had to cope with routine sampling and testing activities, and work on implementing the various tasks assigned to them with re: to QMS implementation. The obstacle was tackled by re-planning/scheduling of tasks and having recourse to overtime at times.
4. Space constraint: The Wastewater Laboratory faces physical space constraint with only a surface area of about 220m2. The layout of the laboratory was re-structured with a view to optimizing space utilization.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
 Financial Resource: Funds were taken from the budget allocated to laboratory by the WMA.
 Technical Resource: Consultancy (local and international), workshops, training sessions, ISO and related documentation.
 Human Resource: Top Management, Quality Steering Committee and all laboratory staffs.

Resource mobilization - was conducted during planning/scheduling of activities, program development and Program Evaluation and Review. Gantt charts were used to set timelines and monitor progress of the project and, any reallocation of resources was made accordingly.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
The Quality Management System and accreditation to the International ISO Standard is being sustained through regular internal audits, Management Reviews as well as annual Surveillance Visits by MAURITAS. Intermediate checks are also conducted to identify any non-conformities cropping up and, to ensure the performance and functionality of the QMS. The Wastewater Laboratory has set up a mechanism to lead it to continual improvement thereby taking the lab to higher horizons in terms of quality service delivery.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
Key elements that led to making the initiative successful: dedicated staffs, leadership, strong will to achieve, full support from Top Management and Board of Directors, effective use of resources (financial, technical and human) and proper planning.
With the establishment of a Quality Management System based on ISO/IEC 17025:2005, the service delivery of the Wastewater Laboratory to its clients has greatly improved.

Contact Information

Institution Type:   Organization Performing Outsourced Public Service Functions  
Contact Person:   Shameem Jauffur
Title:   Laboratory Manager  
Telephone/ Fax:   466 71 31/466 2320
Institution's / Project's Website:
Address:   Wastewater Laboratory, 1F, National Laboratories Complex, Reduit
Postal Code:  
City:   Reduit
Country:   Mauritius

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