Make an Authorization Matrix


It is essential to define for each activity performed in the laboratory which position is authorized to perform the activity, which position is responsible for correct performance of the activity, and which positions are not authorized to perform the activity. This way it is assured that all the activities are performed correctly and safely because for each position it is clear who is authorized and has to be trained for performing that activity, and for each activity responsibility is taken.


In an Authorization Matrix the authorizations and responsibilities are defined for each activity in the laboratory. For example: the matrix should show for the activity "Operating the PCR machine" that the staff of the section Molecular Biology are authorized for this activity, and that the section head is responsible for correct performance of this activity. Other positions in the laboratory are automatically not allowed to operate the PCR machine. When it appears that the PCR machine is operated incorrectly, the section head must be notified and he/she must act to prevent this from happening in the future.

In the right-hand column an example of (a part of) an Authorization Matrix is added.

How & who

Laboratory Manager:

  1. Make a list of all the activities performed in the laboratory. Examples are: ordering of reagents, signing for receipt of reagents, checking if the reagents comply with what was orders, etc. The best way is to first list all the sections of the laboratory, then list all the procedures performed in those sections, and subsequently identify steps in each procedure for which the authorizations need to be defined. Use a pragmatic approach and don't be afraid to forget some activities; you can always add these later.
  2. Make the outline of the Authorization Matrix (see the Example Authorization Matrix provided in the right-hand column). It is strongly recommended to keep the Authorization Matrix as a "living document". Hence, don't print it on paper but, if possible, use a spreadsheet and keep the document digitally. This way you can change and amend it any time you want. Experiences show that this is much more convenient, especially in the beginning.
  3. Define per activity which position in the laboratory is responsible and which positions are authorized to perform the activity (in the previous activity a list of positions in the laboratory was made). Indicate this in the Authorization Matrix. Don't forget that somebody in the organization (usually the Laboratory Manager) must be authorized him/herself to authorize other staff members to perform specific activities and to adapt the Authorization Matrix.
  4. Sign and date the Authorization Matrix.
  5. Store the Authorization Matrix in the folder Organization or keep it digitally and make it accessible to all staff members.
  6. Explain in a weekly staff meeting that the Organizational Charts and an Authorization Matrix have been developed. Explain to the staff members the relation between the Authorization Matrix and their positions and that they are free to look into the Authorization Matrix to find out about their tasks, responsibilities and authorizations. It is important that staff members check their authorizations when they are unsure whether they are allowed to perform a certain task or not.

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This activity belongs to the QSE Personnel
ISO15189:2012: 5.7.1