In previous posts, Where Have All the SampleManager Resources Gone? and Ditto For the LabWare LIMS/ELN, I talked about the fact that there seems to be quite a few people asking for Thermo Fisher Scientific and for LabWare resources but seemingly not finding them when there are actually resources available in the market. Then, last week, I made another update post Update on Resourcing and Whether There’s a Shortage. Since then, I have spoken with yet more people getting their viewpoints on this and will share more thoughts on it.
The Consulting Environment
Increasingly, customers continue to move to preferred vendor systems which require them to use only the largest firms out there. This trend has been going on for many years. This means that there are fewer and fewer customers using smaller consulting firms. Those small consulting firms are usually started by people with many contacts and a lot of experience. That means that the smallest firms hold a great proportion of industry experience per their overall size.
As the market squeezes them out, some of them will subcontract to the largest firms to continue to perform that same work. Other small firms will struggle to grab some of that business that remains. Yet others will give up and find something else to do.
My comment as a small business is this – if you don’t have your own customers, you have nothing. Subcontracting might pay the bills for a while but you can be replaced at any time. You’re just a widget to the big company. Sorry to say it, but it’s a temporary thing for them, too. While the small business is biding time until they can find more of their own customers the big firm is biding its time until it can train its own employees to do the work. Occasionally, a consulting company that does not have any laboratory software expertise will create a long-term relationship with another company that does have this expertise with no intentions of gaining this, themselves but, most of the time, this is not the situation.
Here is my advice to everyone. This is hard advice and I can’t say it’s easy for me to follow, either, because it’s sure easier to give advice than to act on it, as we all know. But with that said:
Small consulting companies like mine: Give up trying to get any business with the “big” LIMS. Instead of trying to work in these spaces, and regardless all the experience you have, go find smaller vendors that need services people or other products outside the industry where your skills will transfer well.
Big consulting companies and large services groups for “big” LIMS/ELN/LES vendors: Get your people trained. If you would have been training people to fill these gaps, all along, you’d now have more experts rather than coming up with these ridiculous plans where it takes half dozen people to be involved in every project because you have so few people who really know anything about the product.
Small product vendors: Wake up and start using some of the experienced people of the industry. These offers to if-you-sell-it-you-can-implement-it might get a few people who are good at both but you’re missing out on a lot of people who could make your product shine.
Customers: You’ll have to tough it out while junior people are trained and you’ll have to either create your own internal knowledge or just accept these more junior people, if they’re even available, because training people doesn’t mean the entire gap is filled, immediately.