You hear it all the time, “The LIMS implementation project was a success! It was on-time, within budget, and met the requirements.” However, when you go back to the lab a month or so later and check with the scientists, technicians, and managers you find out that no one is using the new LIMS. They just went back to their old spreadsheets, database, paper system or whatever. So was the LIMS implementation project really a success? The answer is an emphatic NO! If the laboratory personnel and managers have not adopted the new LIMS and are not fully utilizing it, then the project was actually a failure.
So how do you attain high levels of system adoption and utilization? Well, it is not a “hit or miss” type of thing nor is it “black magic”. Rather, there are several best practices that should be followed to facilitate reaching these goals and thereby attaining true LIMS implementation success. In fact, there are too many to go over in a single blog so this will be a two part blog. In this first part we will explore the best practices for attaining high levels of adoption and utilization before you go live with your new LIMS. The second part will explore go-live and beyond.
Best Practice 1 – Involvement
To attain high levels of system adoption and utilization, the first best practice is to get all the stakeholders (technicians, scientists, group leaders, managers, IT, etc.) involved in the LIMS project from the start. This does not just mean assigning a “volunteer” to be on the LIMS implementation team. All of the stakeholders need to be involved and included in all aspects of your LIMS project. In fact, involvement of the stakeholders ideally begins during the needs gathering and requirements definition stage of your LIMS project and should continue throughout the implementation process and even beyond.
This does not mean that everybody in your organization must be on the LIMS team. That would be inefficient and unmanageable. Rather, you should have your lab department representative, IT representative, management representative, etc. who is on the LIMS team interacting and gathering input from all the stakeholders in their respective areas. This can be done through several different types of mechanisms including; interviews, workshops, and questionnaires. When you involve all the stakeholders early and deeply in the LIMS project, you will establish a sense of ownership in all of the stakeholders and your LIMS adoption and utilization rate will be much higher [Tweet This].
Best Practice 2 – Communication
Now that you have gotten all the stakeholders involved and active in your LIMS project, it is essential to ensure that a high level of communication is maintained between the LIMS team and the stakeholders in order to maximize your system adoption and utilization rates. Regular report outs, updates, and even informal chats are critical to keeping everyone on-board and excited about the new LIMS. This is not only to keep everyone informed but to also maintain the momentum of your LIMS project.
LIMS projects can take quite some time and if you lose the interest of the stakeholders or they start to feel as if they keep providing information and guidance and nothing ever happens, they will start to perceive that the LIMS project is just a big black hole of wasted time and effort. So by the time you are ready to go-live with your new, wonderful LIMS no one will care or want to use it. Your LIMS project will be a failure.
Best Practice 3 – Balanced Phases
One of the most popular approaches to LIMS implementation is the Phased Approach. In this approach the needs and requirements to be implemented are broken up into phases. This is done for many reasons and has several pros and cons which are discussed in the “Big Bang vs. Phased Approach” blog. A best practice in attaining high adoption and utilization rates is to make sure that your LIMS implementation phases are balanced.
A balanced LIMS implementation phase is one in which each stakeholder group gets a substantive set of needs and requirements met in that phase. You can think of this as the “What’s in it for me?” best practice. Balancing your LIMS implementation phases will help you attain high rates of adoption and utilization because each stakeholder group will perceive that the LIMS has provided something of value for them. Not just for management or group leaders but for everyone including the technicians and the consumers of the lab information.
Best Practice 4 – Customized Training
Another best practice to attain high adoption and utilization rates for your new LIMS is to offer timely, multi-medium, role based training. Of course you will provide training but the key to attaining your adoption and utilization goals is to provide training and training materials that have been customized based on the role of the person that will be using the system (i.e. technicians, scientists, team leaders, group leaders, lab managers, lab information consumers, etc.). There will be overlap in your training materials but it’s essential that your training modules reflect what each group will actually need to use in the new LIMS.
Best practices also show that offering role-based training in more than one medium will increase your adoption and utilization rates. So providing classroom training, self-paced computer based training, and even informal “lunch and learn” type training is recommended.
It is also essential that the training be offered as close as feasible to the go-live date. If you provide the training months before the users have access to the system, they will forget everything and just be frustrated when the new LIMS finally does become available.
Tell us if you had true success with your LIMS Implementation project. Did you attain high levels of system adoption and utilization? If not, what would you do differently if you did it over again?