As I occasionally like to do, I’m writing today’s post as a response to a search phrase that brought someone to this blog. This time, it is two phrases, with one phrase as “what is out of the box feature” and the other as “what does it mean when people say i am out of the box.”
It’s not just our laboratory informatics world that throws around the term “out of the box” but it feels like our own problem, as we run into the term, so often. We like to talk about COTS (Commercial Off the Shelf) systems with OOB (Out of the Box) features as if we can buy a box of software, install it and use it. It is this very expectation that probably continues to ruin project timelines. As yet another sales tactic, we talk about “configuring” the system, when we really mean we’ll write quite a lot of computer programs to make it all work for you.
When you purchase a LIMS, ELN or any other laboratory informatics software, keep in-mind that you will have to do quite a lot of work to implement it. Do a proper requirements analysis to know what you need in order to compare it to what you have purchased so that you can make a list of items that must be made to work for your project. Have a good project manager that will control the tendency to continue to add features at will. In addition to all that, always do a phrased roll-out, where you get the things you need most, right away, try them out to make sure they all work as you need them to, then continue to get features added as your project goes along.
In Regard to You
For those of you from other countries who wonder what Americas mean when we tell you that you’re thinking “out of the box” we mean that you’re thinking creatively. It means that you’ve come up with an unexpected, interesting way to look at the problem that has brought out a way to think about it. We mean it is a complimentary way. If someone were to smile and say, “Wow, you’re really thinking out of the box,” then they are pleased. If they happened to say something like, “You’re just too out of the box for our company,” then that would be one of the few negative examples that come to my mind.