I have been working with customers quite a bit on product selections, lately, and one topic that frequently comes up, especially for small companies that can afford a limited number of systems, is whether R&D (Research & Development) and QC (Quality Control) can share the use of one installation of a laboratory software system. I’m about to give you the consultant’s answer, “It depends.”
It actually does depend on the product you select. Let’s talk about five factors that influence this:
- Workflows. R&D and QC cannot share a workflow. If it’s difficult to add and manage multiple workflows, the system cannot work for both groups in the same installation. Each group has their own reasons to “approve” things. In R&D, it’s more to keep others from reading their work before they’re ready. In QC, it’s because they’re required to route their work through a specific number of approvals.
- Analyses. They cannot use the same analyses. You might look at their list of analyses and say, “Well, if it walks like a duck and it talks like a duck, it must be a duck.” Yes, but one is Moscovy duck and the other is a Crested duck. The R&D duck (analysis) has the possibility to change and possibly has different components and restrictions than the QC duck (analysis).
- Audits. R&D folks don’t usually need to be prompted when they change a result but QC people usually do. This is just annoying to force the R&D folks to enter things that they don’t need.
- E-signatures. R&D folks don’t usually want to use the e-signatures and, if they do, only in the most limited fashion. This is as opposed to the QC folks who find a lot of places they plan to use these. Having to use this in a universal way will just kill the R&D process – it’s just way too much to ask them to accommodate this. If this can’t be setup separately for each, then they can’t share the implementation.
- System Administration. Normally, both groups can come to some agreement regarding how they will manage the system. It requires they agree on some naming conventions that will keep them from stepping on each other or possibly some security measures that keep their data separate. If they can’t come to terms on this, they can’t share a system.