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Comments on the SampleManager Resource Shortage and General Business

June 7, 2013

Within the past few months, I had noticed there was a huge SampleManager resource crunch and many of those of us who talk about it have wondered if this is a long-term shortage. At the same time, the entire laboratory informatics industry seems busy.

SampleManager Resource Crunch Comments
The number of SampleManager-related contacts I’ve been getting has dropped, significantly, since I initially wrote about the potential resource crunch. There could be any number of reasons for that. Some projects probably filled their needs. Other projects probably realized that there are very few consultants available and either decided to try to hire someone and/or to train someone in SampleManager.

However, what I have found is that those projects who decide they need someone full-time and/or on-site at the outset seldom change their mind. Most of the smaller projects I work on, remotely, were already ready to do that when they contacted me. Thus, those projects that I suggested that to that didn’t have that thought already in-mind will probably never consider it. It has been my experience that when a project is marked as full-time and/or on-site in a resource requisition that they do not change. In this case, when I say I’ve “never” seen it happen, I really do mean “never.” I won’t say that it’s not possible that it could happen but, as of yet, have never seen it.

So, regarding the concept some of us have discussed, where larger projects would book a steady stream of a smaller number of hours, I haven’t yet seem that happen. For example, some projects were discussing possibly getting 10 hours/week from now until the end of the year, in order to make at least some amount of progress in the event they really don’t find the full-time on-site resources they are looking for, but none have actually taken that step, yet.

Overall, though, while there are still people looking for SampleManager resources and things are still tight, I don’t know that it’s particularly severe. Instead, I would merely say this is a busy year for SampleManager.

Overall Busyness
Along with that, I seem to find everyone is busy, this year. At this point, I no longer necessarily think it’s specific to SampleManager, although I’d say that possibly the upswing for SampleManager does seem somewhat stronger than upswings in other areas.

Personally, I just turned down an invitation to be a media partner at the IQPC ELN conference because I’d rather do customer work while things are so busy. I’ve been turning down everything except smaller projects, for now, as I just can’t fit-in huge amounts of work. For example, I still don’t have a single week in 2013 where I could give a new customer 40 hours and travel to their site.

The smaller projects keep dribbling in so I, like many others in the industry, know that you take the work when it comes because you make up for the slow years in the busy years as much as you possibly can.

Bottom Line
The larger projects are waiting so long to try getting their work done via smaller increments that, unless they decide to do that fairly soon, they will lose out to all the smaller projects that are taking this opportunity to get some real attention.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises
http://www.GeoMetrick.com/

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 7, 2013 2:12 pm

    I note something interesting in the way you do business as opposed to the way the Sample Manager line of business appears to be conducted. You will not take on more work than you can deliver with quality with the resources you have. I practice business the same way. It is better to turn down sales than to take on more sales than you can deliver.

    I observe from your writings, that Sample Manager is being sold regardless of whether there are any resources to deliver it or not. I am guessing that the Sample Manager customers who buy the product are doing so without Thermo providing the total solution. It sounds like they are telling the customer they need to go out and hire people? That is just how It sounds to me.

    I am very baffled at how a customer will buy a LIMS from a LIMS company where the LIMS company does not provide the solution on a turn-key basis (all software and labor). If the LIMS company provides the solution on a turn-key basis, then they are responsible for providing all of the labor to implement the solution and if they cannot provide it, I have found that they develop a bad relationship with the customer base

    I would be very surprised if customers are not developing a feeling of ill-will about their LIMS if their LIMS are going unimplemented, regardless of the cause. This is not a good thing.

  2. June 7, 2013 2:25 pm

    I’m not sure why you read what I’ve written and assume that Thermo is selling product installations it cannot service. With the big systems, customers sometimes buy the software from the software vendor but go elsewhere for implementation services. In many cases, the customer decides to make changes to their system long after the initial implementation, too. At that point, the customer sometimes will have begun to hear about other services options, such as my company, and will use those other options instead of going directly to the vendor. There are many reasons for this and, just generally, different services groups fit better with specific customers than others.

    As another example, sometimes software vendors have partners they go out to to augment their services groups. That way, if they need more resources, rather than hiring a number of new people that they will later need to lay-off, they get assistance from other companies.

    Another example of this would be the way LabWare uses lots and lots of smaller companies in the US to provide their implementation services. In the past few years, they’ve begun to actually develop their own services group with actual employees, but they still maintain this network of many, many services companies that they use for their implementations.

    And, within a product line, it is not uncommon that we sometimes help each other out with resourcing. Sometimes, a competitor who knows they can’t fill all the spots they want to sell might encourage the customer to also use my company for services. Other times, someone like Thermo or LabWare might tell a customer, point blank, that they don’t have as many available resources available as the customer wants for their timeframe and the customer will then call mine and possibly other services companies to fill this out.

    Also, if any services group sells services to a customer and directly tells the customer that they must wait some fairly long period of time to get them, I feel this is fair. If the customer still signs the contract with this knowledge, I don’t feel there is anything wrong with this. If the customer is told the time could be indefinite and still signs without looking around for other options, I think this is really now on the customer’s shoulders — they have the information and have made a decision based on it.

  3. June 7, 2013 2:29 pm

    One more thing I wanted to put, separately, because I feel so strongly about it: There is no such thing as a turnkey system. We should eradicate that word from our language and never use it, again.

  4. June 7, 2013 5:00 pm

    Thanks for the explanations. That answers a lot of questions I have had about how Thermo and others conduct business. It is substantially different from the way many of the small to mid-size LIMS vendors conduct business. It is my observation that the larger LIMS vendors operate the way you describe and apparently there are many customers who are quite happy with that approach.

    I do see some significant advantages to this approach for the consulting ecosystem as evidenced by the number of consultant jobs for implementing these systems. Compare that to the smaller LIMS companies where you find virtually no job opportunities. The smaller companies pretty much provide the total solution (avoiding your favorite word) consisting of the software and labor and do not rely on outside services. There are pluses and minuses to both approaches. This distinct difference between the 2 types of LIMS vendors is part of the decision making process for the customer.

    I really do see advantages to both approaches.

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