All by myself, I think I’ve got several such articles being posted in various magazines in the next few months. And, just yesterday, I was inspired both to make a posting on the topic here in this blog http://outonalims.wordpress.com/2009/08/17/lims-lis-eln-sdms-which-do-you-pick-for-your-company/ , as well as a similar posting in TheIntegratedLab.com http://theintegratedlab.com/2009/08/the-simple-answer-to-knowing-whether-to-select-a-lims-lis-eln-or-sdms/ . And, so, this is either because people are desperately eager to read about this topic, or because those of us that write articles are uninspired and can’t think of anything else to write about.
So, just in case it’s because you readers are interested, I’ve decided to focus on product selection for this entire week and, if you didn’t, now you know. By “week,” I only mean the workweek. What’s inspired this effort is that we’re seeing multitudes of product selection articles, suddenly. Every magazine, print or on-line, seems to be focusing on this topic. So, if you’re going to buy a new software product for your laboratory, let’s talk about whether or not you should buy outside services such as my own to help you with this effort. This mainly comes down to two factors: Time and Money.
Well, I wasn’t entirely honest with you – the other factor is complexity, but I’m trying to simplify this discussion. If you’re buying software that’s fairly straightforward, common, or your needs are simple, you’re not buying something with enough complexity that you will need to spend much effort on this. For example, if you’re sitting reading this thinking something like, “I need a spreadsheet, think I might want to buy MS Excel, and wonder if I need some help with that?” then I think you can stop reading this article and just go buy it. Really!
But, to continue on with the factors of “time” and “money”: by having “money” I mean that you have enough extra to not just purchase the product, but also to even consider getting outside help. If you didn’t have the money to buy the product, you wouldn’t even be starting this process, after all.
You Have No Time Nor Money
You’re already done with your product selection. If you can’t spend a significant amount of time on this process nor can you pay for someone to do most of the work for you, you can’t get started, at all. Someone out there is wondering if they just can’t get call some software company to come in and install something without all this hoo-ha about RFPs (Request For Proposal) and RFQs (Request For Quotation). Well, you can do that but for the few stories you hear of people who did this and had a successful project, there are MANY more who end up with a failed project by doing this. However, for those people who’ve done a selection, before, and where there’s specific software they know of that will fit, that can be a different story. I’m just saying most people with this idea don’t fall into this category.
You Have Plenty of Time, But No Money
Well, I don’t think I’ve met you, because no-one seems to have extra time, these days. But, if you’re actually in this category, you have to figure out what to buy without buying outside help, of course. As I mentioned, there are multitudes of articles on the topic. And, if you’re still feeling stuck, you can go talk to others in the industry in places like the LIMS/Laboratory Informatics Group in LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/groupRegistration?gid=36640 .
You Have Plenty of Money, But No Time
Bring in someone to work with you on this. This is a time-consuming task. Of course, by bringing in an expert, this doesn’t mean that you won’t need to allocate some of your time to this, but it will be much less time than if you do it, yourself.
For example, when customers bring me in to determine what product to select, I need to interview them to figure out what they need, I need to pass all documents by them so they can verify that there are no mistakes and nothing missing. They must participate in the selection demos. So, you can see that there are still a number of things you’ll have to spend some time on, even with someone else doing the bulk of the work. And, after all, it is your system. If you want to get something that truly reflects your needs and desires, you’ll have to participate in the process.
You Have Both Time and Money
Once again, I don’t know if I’ve recently met anyone with extra time. But if you have a multitude of both these resources, it’s up to you to determine how to allocate your own time.