With the experience of thousands of laboratory management system deployments of Clinisys Laboratory Solutions™ under our collective belts, we at Clinisys have vast experience implementing laboratory information systems (LIS) and laboratory information management systems (LIMS) software for laboratories with specialties that represent the full range of clinical, scientific, and environmental laboratories, including forensics, toxicology, public health, agronomy, water, wastewater, soil, air, and food and beverage.
An LIS or LIMS is a large and long-lasting investment for a lab. From our in-the-trenches experience, we would like to share with you seven project management keys to success to help you install and migrate to a new laboratory information management system. Not sure if you should choose an LIS or a LIMS? Read about how the technologies are converging.
You’ll notice that none of these requirements below is technical, and there’s good reason for that. The most successful laboratory management software implementations are a result of the team’s ability to mobilise resources and problem solve to smoothly execute their lab system implementation plan.
Here are seven non-technical requirements to a successful laboratory software implementation:
- Designate an executive sponsor
- Communicate broadly and often
- Develop an achievable schedule, budget, and objectives
- Dedicate adequate resources
- Limit risks
- Overcome roadblocks
- Prioritise training
They may all sound simple and straight forward, but you might be surprised how often laboratories take for granted these basic preparations and then find themselves over budget and long past the target deployment date.
How can you assure that your LIS or LIMS implementation project will go as planned? Focus on these seven success factors to vastly improve your outcomes.
1. Designate an executive sponsor
Deploying new lab software is not only an investment, it’s a major organisational transition. Having the unwavering support of a top leader can make all the difference in managing timelines and handling internal resistance.
The executive sponsor should be fully versed in the business case for the new laboratory management software and should have the organisational authority to arbitrate disagreements and make swift decisions. Ideally, the executive sponsor is already an evangelist for the software system change and can help smooth the path with others, at every level of the business.
2. Communicate broadly and often
Create trust and inspire employees’ support toward the software implementation effort by communicating broadly and often to employees. Change is difficult for people, but the success of a laboratory information management system implementation project depends on employees’ acceptance, enthusiasm, and expertise.
Inform and involve employees. Communicate the business drivers for the change, and give lab personnel time to absorb and adapt. Everyone needs to understand what’s in it for them. Here’s where middle managers play a key role, helping along lab staff who may otherwise resist the change, focus on differences between the systems, or potentially undermine the success of the new laboratory software.
Keep employees constantly informed about the goals for and progress toward the laboratory software implementation project. Don’t be afraid to repeat the same messages. In fact, use multiple channels multiple times to reinforce the message, because lack of information breeds misinformation and mistrust. Instead, create among your employees a sense of community around shared change.
3. Develop an achievable schedule, budget, and objectives
There is no good or bad time to implement new laboratory management software systems. The key is to have a realistic, documented plan for LIS or LIMS implementation that directly addresses your expected return on investment goals on the expenditure—just like with any major business investment.
Your chosen LIS or LIMS vendor will be able to share technical implementation details for software setup, configuration, integrations, user testing, and deployment. The vendor can also share the sequence of typical tasks and a typical number of hours for each. Size up those inputs realistically to the resources you have available in terms of time, personnel, and budget, and adjust accordingly.
4. Dedicate adequate resources
Make the implementation a priority and allocate adequate resources. LIMS implementation must be a company imperative. Make sure everyone understands the phases of the plan and project leaders agree on the deliverables.
Well documented project management principles apply at this stage. Your assigned project manager, in collaboration with your laboratory information systems vendor, should document the required tasks, timeframes, dependencies, human capital, and any other resources. The project manager should keep teams motivated toward incremental achievements and on track for major completion target dates.
New laboratory systems are not just an investment of dollars, they are an investment in time and resources, and you should expect the system to return more value than its cost. Be sure to attribute any gains apparent during implementation back to your ROI measures.
5. Limit risks
Without enough due diligence in the planning stages, software implementation projects are at risk for unforeseen and sometimes costly changes. Work early in the software evaluation process to adequately articulate and prioritise your business needs and technical requirements. Avoid poorly defined requirements and in-flight changes to specifications by thoroughly vetting your potential vendors’ offerings for the must-have functionality your lab business can’t operate without.
Keep eagerness and overconfidence at bay with realistic deadlines to avoid hasty work. Once the LIMS software implementation project is underway, protect it from changes to scope and complexity.
6. Overcome roadblocks
The best-laid plans are still subject to change. When your LIS or LIMS implementation project hits a roadblock, enlist your executive sponsor to make quick, informed decisions to keep project tasks on track.
If you encounter multiple roadblocks, as with all projects subject to competing resources, try using an impact, urgency, and priority matrix to help focus first on the issues with the biggest impact and the highest urgency. Then, you can tackle solutions in due course to the lower impact, lower urgency problems.
7. Prioritise training
Be sure to plan ahead for the deployment stage of your lab management software to include user training. User training is vital to avoid user errors or process inconsistencies that can result in deviations or quality problems. Emphasise multimodal training to meet the needs of employees’ different learning styles.
Plan to train employees to at least three competency levels. First, provide all system users training on the core capabilities of the laboratory information management system to accelerate laboratory productivity, support new laboratory workflows, and reduce calls to your internal help desk. Second, train at least two power users who understand the full capability of the system and can serve as in-house trainers, administrators, and troubleshooters. Third, empower your IT team to administer, further configure, and maintain the LIMS and to support your laboratory computing infrastructure, troubleshooting any future connectivity or interface issues that may arise.
Realise the productivity and quality benefits of your new lab systems
With decades of experience supporting laboratories of all specialties, choose Clinisys to help you implement the specific Clinisys Laboratory Solutions™ feature sets your laboratory requires.
Clinisys Laboratory Solutions deliver unprecedented configurability and interoperability and are designed to future-proof your lab by enabling end-to-end workflow automation, unlimited connectivity, interoperable data structures, complete quality control, and more.
The Clinisys Platform™ is the foundation for all Clinisys Laboratory Solutions, offering the easy configurability, flexibility, and scalability advantages of a modern, software-as-a-service (SaaS) cloud architecture and data model. The Clinisys Platform provides cost-effective operations at any scale and across geographies, without the effort and expense of hardware maintenance, software upgrades, and other concerns. Giving you the capabilities and flexibility you need to run efficient, compliant, and successful lab operations.
Focus on these seven elements as a strong foundation for your LIMS project plan, and involve us early to help you more quickly realise the productivity and quality benefits of your new laboratory information management system.