When talking to new clients and companies within the LIMS marketplace, one of the most common issues or stumbling blocks to system implementation/improvement projects can come from a reluctance to allocate an internal role exclusively focused on the ownership or administration of the LIMS system. Having worked exclusively in the LIMS space for nearly 3 years, it still surprises me that companies can shy away from bringing specialists in to ensure system maintenance or optimisation. This is particularly when the cost of failure in terms of accreditation/regulatory compliance can be so damaging to a business.
I thought it could be beneficial to put the considerations around this decision into a blog. To illustrate what my thoughts are on the benefits of an in-house LIMS resource, and to appease my marketing team.
When it comes to reluctance around appointing a permanent member of the LIMS team, I can understand why there can be a bit of apprehension. The idea of adding a new role, with a new salary and potentially paying a fee for the placement, can be daunting. This is especially so in the time where there is so much uncertainty in many aspects of life.
Another concern I’ve encountered is uncertainty around the long-term viability of the skill set once the initial LIMS project/requirement has been completed. In this instance the financial concern also plays a part. The potential worry would be that the company has invested a sum of money into hiring a LIMS specialist who they may not be able to provide a consistent level of work for. This can make approving any requisition in this area challenging.
There is also a common situation in that companies will chose to promote an existing member of staff to take responsibility for the system. When coupled with gaining training from a vendor/LIMS consultant, this can seem an attractive option. It is more viable as they can always return to their role as a technical lab user should there not be sufficient work.
Adding a specialist LIMS resource to any team can sometimes seem like an unnecessary expense, but in reality hiring a candidate on a permanent basis can offer an excellent ROI to any company, regardless of industry. When you measure the candidate salary and potential recruitment fee against the cost of bringing in either an independent consultant, or paying the vendors fees, the cost pales in comparison. That is not to say that external contractors are not a valuable investment. They can provide invaluable boosts to LIMS business critical projects, but in my experience they often work best alongside a permanent member of the team. Someone who is more attuned to the nature of the business and their processes and requirements.
In terms of long-term viability of skill sets, it could be a concern as to what the staff member will be responsible for once the initial project/implementation has been completed. However, there is always additional work that can be done on a LIMS system. Whether this is process optimisation, increasing the efficiency of sample tracking, or system upgrades/changes down the line. There will always be a healthy pipeline of projects that can be undertaken, all to the benefit of the business.
Seconding an Existing Member
With regards to seconding an existing member of the lab team and training them through the vendor, this can also be a viable strategy. It is one that is also fairly well trodden in the industry. I do believe however it should be undertaken alongside a permanent hire. The training costs for popular system vendors can be astronomical. They can far outweigh the cost of bringing a permanent staff member in. Whereas if a hire was to be made, the seconded member of staff is able to work alongside the LIMS specialist and gain skills from them. All whilst they continue to provide benefit to the business by assisting with projects and administration.
Thanks for reading my blog, if you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them below!