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Home Improvements and LIMS Projects: Strange Parallels

September 27, 2018

LIMS ImplementationOver the past several years there has been an insidious addiction that has taken root in America.  No, I’m not talking about opioids or fentanyl, which are both scourges on our society, I’m talking about all the Home Improvement (HI) shows that are on television!  It is just amazing, evidently, what can be done with expertise, planning, and hands-on experience, as well as the judicious use of the occasional specialist.

However, over the years of watching these shows a disturbing trend has begun to emerge.  The initial analysis of the home to be improved includes extensive needs and requirements from all residents (i.e. stakeholders) in multiple areas of the domicile, but only a select few problem areas are chosen to be addressed and remedied during the course of the show.

When the big reveal occurs, great emphasis is placed on reviewing the issues that were present and how they were addressed during the course of the home improvement project.  However, only the problem areas selected to be fixed are reviewed.  The other needs and requirements that were not addressed are conveniently brushed aside and relegated to a “future phase” of the renovation project.  No matter that the master bedroom and ensuite bathroom are still totally inadequate for the homeowners needs, success is claimed by one and all!

Upon reflection, it is frighteningly clear that these television home improvement shows are very much like a typical LIMS Implementation project.  Let’s explore these parallels.

HI Shows / LIMS Implementation:  Needs Analysis

In both home improvement projects and LIMS projects, an extensive analysis of the needs and requirements of all the stakeholders must be made before the project is defined and initiated.  On the home improvement shows, the needs and requirements are developed by the architect/designer (i.e. Joanna) and the construction manager (i.e. Chip) by speaking to the homeowners (i.e. stakeholders).  On LIMS projects, the needs and requirements are developed by the LIMS Business Analyst and LIMS Project Manager by speaking with all the stakeholders including; lab personnel, lab management, sample submitters, lab customers, etc.  Interestingly, in either environment, the expertise and experience level of the resources developing the needs and requirements will directly affect the completeness and quality of the resulting user requirement specification.

HI Shows / LIMS Implementation:  SMEs

Another parallel between a home improvement show and a LIMS project is the use of specialty resources, when applicable.  Sure, construction manager can do all the drywalling, spackling, and painting in the house himself, but it would take more time and the end result may well be suboptimal compared to utilizing specialized professionals.  Instead, these specialized tasks are delegated by the construction manager to specialists (drywaller, painter) who do this particular function every day, and are therefore, expert, efficient and tremendously experienced.

During a LIMS project, it is unlikely that your internal resources will have the expertise and experience to perform some of more complex activities that are required such as workflow analysis and optimization.  Sure, your generic IT business analyst may be able to work with you to document your current lab workflows (As-Is), but how will they advise and work with your stakeholders on optimizing your lab workflows (To-Be)?  How will they advise you as to what lab data systems will be made redundant or should be interfaced to?  What best practices will they be able to reveal and share?  By utilizing a LIMS Business Analyst, you will be able to leverage their expertise and experience to make your LIMS project a true success.

HI Shows / LIMS Implementation:  Planning

Additionally, planning a home improvement or LIMS implementation project is critical to the success of either project.  In home improvement projects, just like LIMS projects, there are a plethora of moving parts and teams that all need to be coordinated to ensure that optimal efficiency and quality are always maintained and attained.  You can’t put in the floors until the cabinets are all installed, just as you can’t define the LIMS analyses before the master data has Read Now: "Strategic Planning for Global Harmonization at R&D and QC Laboratories"been defined.

Planning and maintaining this complex dance of people and materials, in both environments, is always best done by those who have done so successfully previously.  Knowing what to expect and even what “unknown, unknowns” may crop up can be the difference between success and failure.

HI Shows / LIMS Implementation:  Prioritizing Needs

Interestingly, in both cases there are inevitably more needs and work than time, resources, and budget will allow.  The needs and requirements are, therefore, prioritized with the lower priority items relegated to a future project phase.  Interestingly, in both environments those postponed needs are often never addressed.  In the case of the home improvement show, what was  put off to the next phase is never discussed again on that episode and most home viewers simply forget about those problem areas.  Similarly, in a LIMS project, needs and requirements are prioritized and those relegated to Phase 2 of the LIMS project are often forgotten and may well be doomed to never again see the light of day.

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Are you addicted to home improvement shows?  Have you ever wondered what happened to those other horrible rooms that were never redone?  Can you see how a LIMS project parallels a home improvement project?

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