There are always up-and-coming products out there but, these days, I seem to run into more and more new products. New LIMS seem to abound, for one. Not only are there new products coming up here in the USA, but there are always products coming from other countries that would like to get a foot-hold, here.
Many product vendors consider services merely a necessary evil. Even those software and services vendors who are forced to take services seriously don’t necessarily appreciate the full impact that services can have on their product implementations. Everything is more competitive than ever and services might be something that could make a difference. Customers don’t necessarily look for practical services offerings, they look more for features, but services could be the item that helps a vendor be competitive by making their entire implementation more efficient (i.e., they make money on their services) which hopefully means they’ll gain more positive recommendations from customers.
In speaking with a friend who, like me, is also working to build a services group and asking for advice, I shared some things I’d been working on because they’re the usual things – it’s not that they’re all that interesting. But when you’re first getting started, it’s not always easy to know where to start.
You should be asking yourself questions such as, “Who do I have access to and who can I attract to do the services work?” Also, create work policies that apply to everyone. Create standards of conduct, as well. Make a list of all the tools people will need and tell them what tool is used and for which thing. Don’t leave it to everyone to select their favorite tools. Set expectations early and adjust them as necessary.
One issue with tools, by the way, is that there are almost infinite tools from which to select, these days. I don’t mean just the LIMS but the project management tools, the work assignment tools, the support tools, just to name a few. You can easily get into tool analysis paralysis. Once you select them, whatever criteria you used will likely change, as is the way of the small business (i.e., lots of change) so the tools probably eventually need to change. Personally, I just insist on making a decision and using the tools for a while just to to be able to the actual implementation work and not allowing people to bring up changing the tools for at least some period of time unless the tools are seriously holding them back. Otherwise, every team meeting will be spent complaining about the tools and not actually getting to the real chargeable work to be done. And I’m not just talking about my own complaining, here! 😉
In a small company, you will be best served to understand the software to understand the services it will need. Then, outline those services and start working on ways to manage and structure those services. One key is to understand how to roll-out the software, from installing the software and database, to taking it through its development environments (sandbox/development to test/validation to production).