Laboratory Informatics Project Sizes and Management

Having just last year worked with a mammoth clinical (i.e., regulated) project to currently working with a fairly small non-pharma, non-bio manufacturing project is a big switch.

Projects, Large and Small, Need Structure
Some people claim that small projects need no structure and no real project management but I would disagree. I’ve noticed that the small customers want to control their projects, too. Sometimes, as an industry, we try to talk them into something less than that because it’s easier for us to dump something on them than to take a bit of care and planning to give them something that reaches excellence and provides a higher level of maintainability. Also, because they’re small, we think we can push them around more easily. However, I’m not convinced that smaller projects don’t need and want structure as much as the big ones, do.

Now, with that said, I’m not by any means suggesting that a small project needs the same level of structure and documentation as the large ones. A large company with a project management office and program managers will have much more structure than a little company with a single person in charge of its projects. While I believe both need structure, obviously it should be scaled appropriate to the size of the project. The rule of thumb we use with documentation standards is that, if it’s too unwieldy for a group your size to manage, then your standards are too much for the size of your group and you need to scale them back, as an example. The same goes for project structure.

Why Small Projects Want This
Working with various sizes of companies over my years doing projects, the reasons I believe that small and/or non-regulated companies want this as much as the big and/or regulated ones is that:

  1. They do care about how their money is spent and the outcome of their projects.
  2. They’re not rolling in money (thus, see # 1).
  3. Being quite small, they’re especially concerned about maintainability of the final systems which they can’t affect if they don’t get involved with the project in some way.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises

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