What do you do if you’re suddenly faced at a lack of LIMS resources? Is there a way to have a LIMS resource plan B that works for you?

LIMS Resource Plan B – Some History

I was looking around to see if I could buy some LabVantage manuals and what they might cost. It might not be possible, but a few people have called me about doing work on that system. I haven’t worked on it in a while. I thought reading the manuals (yes, really, and please don’t tell anyone! 😉 ) might help refresh my memory regarding details that aren’t coming to-mind. Strangely, I remember details about security, nodes, tramstops, SDCs/SDIs, how patients are linked to their samples and other database details, using JasperReports and dashboards. But, for all the time I’d spent on the web pages, a bulk of the work I did, I need some visual refresher. Also, the workflows have blended in with all the other workflows I’ve worked on. In my head, I’m having a difficult time splitting them from others I’ve worked-on.

I never did find manuals. If any of you reading this have some extra ones, I might be interested. This will partly depend on your price for them. It will also partly depend on whether I think I’d end up working with this system fairly soon.

But what I did find, was a recent court case filed on June 16th, 2020: LabVantage Versus the United States Governmental Agencies. It has to do with the government refusing to grant a work visa to one of their employees. It says that it will greatly impact their efforts in working with companies such as DNA Diagnostics Center and Roche during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Is There a Shortage in LabVantage Resources, In General?

I do get the occasional call about the LabVantage system. However, these customers are also not quite breaking down my door to get me to work on these systems. Part of this is due to the fact that it’s not one of the systems I specialize in, such as the LabWare LIMS / ELN or the SampleManager LIMS / LES. People who call me say it’s difficult to find people but that’s not the same as there being a shortage. And, in some cases, they’ve found other people and not needed me, after all. Some of this is the issue that it takes a lot of leg work to find resources. This is true of any of the systems we work with.

So, for those customers who are looking, I would say that you should get all your facts together before you call. Be able to tell people what your timeframe is for your work. Also, whether or not it’s going to be remote. You need to be able to tell them how many hours per week you think you need from the person and for how long. Think of all these and any other relevant details, ahead of time. Without the details I just mentioned, you shouldn’t be calling or e-mailing anyone, by the way, because I know those are the first questions I ask. I’m sure that’s the case with most of the LIMS / LES / LIS / ELN services companies out there, too.

Is There Some Other Potential LabVantage Resource Shortage?

So, here’s the difference between what I just said and what the court case brings up. In the case, it mentions that the person has something special to offer. It also talks about the timeliness of denying the work visa, as the work relates to COVID-19 implementations for companies like DNA Diagnostics and Roche.

In today’s software world where so many people think we’ve all gone to remote work, how can the issue of having someone in one country or another be an issue? Right offhand, I can think of a few reasons.

First of all, when you install equipment, you do have to go to the place where it is to be installed. I know I’ve written about the fact that my customers don’t have me create label formats on-site, any longer. They ship me a printer and label stock, I do the work, then ship it all back. But to actually install the label printers and barcode readers does require someone to be on-site.

Past that, even if it’s not a physical task, not every group is able to do software work, remotely. There are many reasons for this. I’ve talked about the fact that you need good management and project management, for starters. Plus, there are a lot of people who think they’re experts in this who really aren’t. They’ve now done it a very small amount and they think it has to do with the software you use to support your operations or using a camera. That’s not true. It’s about work practices more than it is about anything else.

Plus, I find there are still many people with bad internet connections. Some of them aren’t good candidates for working remotely. Before I moved to Carroll, Iowa, I made sure I would have a strong network to work off of, since my work depends on it. Not everyone has the luxury of deciding whether to move somewhere based on their internet offerings.

So, What is Your LIMS Resource Plan B?

Here we are still working during a pandemic. Some of you already were using remote consultants and workers, to some extent. Now that so much additional work is now remote, at least temporarily, some of the consulting companies that hadn’t previously done remote work are scrambling. Some are claiming they’re experts in this because they want the work. Others can’t quite figure out what they’re going to do because it’s not that easy to do if you don’t have the right people.

And you might not be doing that well with the remote plan, either. You as a customer might not be able to get this to work with your people. Some of you can’t wait to get your people back because you miss them. Others can’t wait because you’re struggling to manage their people, remotely. For the most part, though, most of the groups I speak with claim they’re more productive than they were in the office. That’s a topic for another blog post, which I’ve written in the past. But it can easily be true.

With this, I’m not going to say that switching between remote and non-remote is a good plan. If you had mainly used remote consultants, switching to a consulting firm with local offices isn’t always and easy switch. They might not have extra people, you might not have a place to put them – there are a variety of factors to this.

LIMS Resource Plan B Examples

Even with previous remote work, there are new situations to consider. For example, if you require people to come to your site to pick up your corporate laptop to do your work, what do you do when there are travel restrictions? This would be an issue whether you’re trying to onboard a consultant or an employee. So, you have to think through all the details and find out if you can work around them.

Strange as it might sound, there will possibly even be projects that will switch to a different LIMS product. This does happen. However, if you switch, it still doesn’t mean that another software product will have any more available people than the one you’re abandoning.

Some customers are using recruiters to try to ensure they get enough people. In too many cases, their entire strategy seems to be to add yet more recruiters to the mix. When they don’t find the right people, they seem to add yet more recruiters. But what it does, many times, is just to add more people looking at the same pool of resources. As always, I’ll tell you that when a customer uses recruiters instead of directly calling me, I just get multiple calls about the exact same thing. You don’t get more people, necessary, just more calls to the exact same people.

Conferences Should Pick This Topic Up

I haven’t participated in a conference in quite some time because I’m tired of the same-old-same-old. There’s always a talk about requirements gathering. Somebody will give a workshop on how to better manage your project. They tell what a terrific success their project is, despite what we all heard from the people who actually worked on it. 😉

My point is that the topics don’t tend to vary, much. My suggestion is that the upcoming conferences talk about how to create a Plan B for getting resources. Even when there’s not a pandemic going on, there are sometimes shortages in various parts of the industry. And resourcing is part of project planning, anyway. It’s just another way to talk about how to get around yet another project-based issue.

It would be interesting to hear from companies such as DNA Diagnostics Center and Roche about what they ended up doing and why. Overall, though, I can envision a workshop that has people share ideas. One topic would be with regard to various strategies for getting through a resource crunch. It could also allow people to share ideas on the various ways to find resources.

And, by the way, this isn’t my way of trying to get my way into a conference. I’ve already started turning those down. As an industry expert, it’s just that I see a need. I’m identifying it. And I’m leaving it to someone else to do the work, in this case.