Subscribe to our blog
Posted 16 September 2021 by
Mathias Lasoen
Head of Growth Marketing

First-Time-Right in laboratories: how to measure and take action?

Ensuring that any work sequence or process is performed in the proper manner the first time and every time is referred to as First-time right (FTR) and originates from Six Sigma. When a lab delivers analysis results, they have to be correct. The slightest glitch during the method execution leads to a non-reliable outcome and requires one and often two re-tests. No wonder that lab managers are aiming to make test processes robust in all their aspects. It comes down to minimizing the amount of rework due to mistakes/failures during testing: both maximizing the efficiency of the lab as well as the quality of the work delivered. How can labs measure it? And what can you do to improve on this KPI?

Value of focusing on First-time right in the laboratory

Learn from mistakes/failures

How many experiments or tests get sent back for re-test or lead to CAPAs (corrective and preventive actions)? In addition to better GxP compliance, labs are more efficient when test execution and associated documentation are made correctly from the first time. Monitoring this metric and identifying the failures’ root causes are essential to precisely know what requires attention.

Improve customer satisfaction

Working with reliable test methods opens great potential for a better schedule adherence, which has a direct positive impact on meeting the Service Level Agreements (SLA) with internal and external customers such as manufacturing, supply chain, clinical operations, and R&D.

Improve analyst satisfaction

Redoing work is frustrating. Lab analysts get demotivated when tests fails due to factors outside of their control like failing instruments, unclear guidelines, issues with the preparation, or unexpected deviations in the lab’s planning. The non-value-added work related to re-testing (documentation, reviewing re-tests, …) is not a lab analysts’ favorite pastime. Hence, improving upon your First-time-right metric has proven to have a positive impact on job satisfaction.

More efficient = cost savings

Improving the lab’s First-time-right KPI inherently reduces non-value-adding work. This is a direct tangible cost-saving. Indirectly, it will improve schedule adherence, creating tangible business benefits at the internal or external customer side.

Challenges when implementing First-time right

Challenge 1: What to monitor?

The key objective of measuring First-time-right is to take proactive, preventative action (not reactive). Measuring the FTR as a % of tests that failed is not enough. You need to be able to understand the root causes. This requires that lab analysts capture the following information:

  • Which test method failed?
  • Sample context (type, origin, …)
  • Execution context (site, lab, analyst, instrument, shift)
  • Failure context (failure reason, remarks)

Challenge 2: How to monitor and explore FTR?

There is nothing like a free lunch. If we want to analyze, someone has to enter the data. It is essential to implement the proper workflow and choose the right system to capture the failure data. Labs must find a common go-to-point, which limits the extra burden for the analyst to register failures.

Analysts will be motivated to enter extra data when there is also direct feedback on FTR statistics. The system must be able to visualize the FTR performance, the root causes for failures, the effect of operational excellence initiatives ant the like.

Actionable operations analytics: Measuring First-time right with Binocs

In Binocs, it’s very straightforward to measure the % First-time-right and identify the root causes. This data comes together in easy to interpret, fully dynamic dashboards like this one:


Because you now know, for example, that the two most important reasons for failed samples are ‘issue when preparing the sample’ and ‘SST failure (FailedSystem Suitability test)’ – your FTR metric becomes actionable: you know exactly what to investigate and improve.

Capturing this data requires minimal input effort. Binocs uses the analyst go-to point for lab work, which is the digital schedule board. In case of a test failure, the analysts enter the failure reason as part of the re-test workflow. All the contextual information on the sample and the test execution are already known.


We’re curious to know more about what challenges you face and would welcome to opportunity to discuss how we can help! Book your discovery meeting now!

More about lab KPIs

  • Binocs: Demonstrated performance analysis title card

    Exploring the value of lab KPIs: master data and demonstrated performance analysis

    Demonstrated performance analysis helps maintain good quality master data, which is critical for creating accurate planning and scheduling
    Read more
  • An illustration of the

    The Future of Lean Lab Implementations

    Lean methodologies are commonplace in labs worldwide but new technologies may soon render them obsolete. Learn everything you need to know!
    Read more
  • Laboratory staff in white coats discuss data displayed on a tablet device, perhaps looking at 1 of the 4 Quality Control KPIs discussed in this blog post

    4 KPI dashboards that every QC lab should use

    KPI dashboards in QC are crucial as they enable lab personnel to see relationships between different metrics and make informed decisions about how to optimize lab performance. Based on…
    Read more

Mathias Lasoen

Mathias is the Head of Growth Marketing for Binocs.