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Validation is a Team Sport


Roles and Responsibilities to Maintain Compliance

Computer Software Validation (CSV) is a hot topic as many changes are happening in the life science industry to create a perfect storm. First, the global pandemic forced life sciences businesses to move to the cloud and digitally transform to support virtual workforces. Second, the FDA released its draft guidance Computer Software Assurance (CSA) for Production and Quality System Software. CSA intends to clarify and modernize the original FDA guidance, called General Principles of Software Validation, which is more than 20 years old. Third, nontraditional parties are collaborating, and cloud technology is enabling new ways of working and delivering value globally – like Accumulus Synergy and Google Cloud partnering with the top pharma companies in the world to build a global information exchange platform.

All these factors bring to light the age-old divide between Quality and IT teams. Old school versus new school. Manage risk versus speed innovation.

One of the fundamental old-school ways of thinking about validation is viewing it as a single event or a checkbox rather than an ongoing process. Viewing validation as a single set of enhancements or upgrades is a misguided judgment. Validation is an ongoing process that addresses the lifecycle of a system from the cradle (i.e., initial planning and implementation) to the grave (i.e., retirement). This end-to-end process is known as the Validation Lifecycle. When your validation approach is considered at the beginning of your process (not an afterthought), it can become a strategic competitive advantage.

When companies view validation as a single event rather than an end-to-end process, they may also believe that validation activities are the sole responsibility of one siloed functional group, often called the Validation Department or IT Compliance. In actuality, the validation activities are the responsibility of members from several functional groups and departments across the organization, as well as any external 3rd parties supporting the organization’s GxP processes. The truth is that validation is a team effort. Achieving compliance and fitness for intended use pragmatically and efficiently requires a diverse mix of teams that spans the organization.

It is common to face challenges when executing your initial plan throughout the validation lifecycle.

Two critical challenges within the validation lifecycle are:

  1. The necessary balancing act of satisfying scope and quality against time/cost, often referred to as the “Iron Triangle” within the validation lifecycle, requiring trade-offs between:
    1. Scope: the software features implemented and the validation scope/strategy/approach.
    2. Quality: the quality of features to be implemented and related documentation/evidence quality.
    3. Time/cost: the effort it takes to produce the system and its validation deliverables.
  1. Plan deviations arise, which can alter timelines and result in delays. The magnitude of plan deviations correlates directly to the extent of poor execution of the planned validation and compliance activities. The root cause of plan deviations can include issues in planning, leadership, or communication (PLC). Poor planning, individual contribution or leadership, or communication between the team can cause problems with the overall project.

One essential consideration for a successful validation project for your life sciences company is to ensure you have the right team. The success of the validation activities relies heavily on the team’s ability to communicate objectives, keep the data flowing, and meet critical timelines. With so much depending on the individual team members, ensuring that the team responsible for such activities includes external industry experts is important. External experts can get the project up and running as quickly as possible with little delay and can provide critical feedback to your internal team that can be used in future validation activities.

As your company tackles its next CSV or CSA project, it is essential to source multi-disciplinary team members from within the organization and to seek industry experts from outside your organization. At USDM, we simplify the process for CSV / CSA compliance projects. We have experience qualifying, verifying, and validating the myriad GxP systems, equipment, and processes found in most life sciences GxP environments. Our flagship Cloud Assurance subscription offloads the validation implementation and cloud release management for many best-of-breed technologies.

Our current CSV methodology aligns with GAMP (Good Automated Manufacturing Practice) best practices and includes the following:

  • Vendor Audit
  • Validation Plan
  • Part 11 and Annex 11 Assessments
  • Risk and Impact Assessments
  • User Requirements and Functional Specification
  • IQ/OQ/PQ/UAT Protocols and Test Scripts and Execution Assistance
  • Traceability Matrix
  • Administration, Use, and Operation SOPs
  • Business Process SOPs
  • Validation Summary Report

Our current CSA methodology aligns with GAMP (Good Automated Manufacturing Practice) best practices and the most recent FDA draft guidance (as of September 2022), and it includes the following:

  • Better testing + less documentation = Faster “time to value”
  • Improved quality, efficiency, speed, agility, responsiveness, transformation
  • Decreased test script issues by up to 90%
  • Reduced testing overhead
  • Leveraged vendor assurance activities
  • Maximized use of CSV and expert resources

Our expertise includes, but is not limited to:

Have a question about how we can work with your specific GxP system setup? Fill out our Contact Form with your system requirements, and we can review them.


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