Holiday Planning Tips for a Joyous LIMS Project

Holiday LIMS TipsSuccessfully planning for the holidays has more in common with successfully planning your LIMS project than you might think. Recognizing these parallels can make your LIMS project feel more like a great party and keep the holiday cheer going. So, let’s explore some of the holiday planning and preparation tactics that can be leveraged to help make your LIMS project a true celebration.

Make a list (and check it twice)

Christmas listSending out invites to the right people is crucial to the success of any holiday party. Attaining the right mix of people who will be diverse in background, socially engaging, yet not being personally overpowering is very important.  While forgetting to invite a favorite relative or friend can be a disaster.

Similarly, successful LIMS projects have well rounded LIMS teams made up of individuals from different, diverse business areas such as IT, Lab, Manufacturing, QA, Finance, and Management or as they are commonly termed, the stakeholders.  Attaining the right LIMS team mix and gaining the cooperation, input, and buy-in from all the stakeholder groups will help ensure your LIMS initiative’s success.  While forgetting to include all of the stakeholder groups to the LIMS table is a sure-fire formula for disaster.

Get your house in order

Putting holiday decorations up in your house without first cleaning up and organizing can lead to a lot of rework and frustration. The same could transpire for the start of your LIMS project if there is no plan in place first. There could be quite a few bumps along the way with the possibility of your LIMS project failing.

Getting your LIMS project’s house in order entails completing several tasks such as:

  • Understanding and documenting needs and requirements
  • Prioritizing your needs and requirements into LIMS Implementation Phases
  • Analyzing and optimizing your laboratory workflows
  • Securing funding/budget and justifying the cost
  • Determining your LIMS team’s structure and securing necessary internal and external resources
  • Ensuring your existing procedures are adequate and well documented

➝ Additional Reading: Laboratory Informatics Implementation Planning – Don’t Forget!

Don’t plan for too many activities

Holiday FrustrationWhile a holiday party may not have a specific goal in mind, making it too complex can be a downer. Planning too many activities can spread people thin and not allow for in-depth conversations or fun as a group.

Likewise, when creating your LIMS project plan, don’t bite off more than you can chew. A successful project is one you can achieve with the resources (internal & external) that you can secure. One of the best ways to achieve this is to identify the absolute “must-have” and differentiate them from the “nice to have” features. For example, you must have a new KPI report developed, but the option of having it automatically sent to management may be only a “nice to have”. This does not mean you have to limit your development goals, but it leaves options to get your project back on track in case of any unforeseen problems. Speaking of problems…

Dealing with the In-Laws

Dealing with In-LawsLet’s face it, no family is perfect. There are bound to be a few people that know how to bring a joyous festival to a screeching halt. Being able to skirt touchy topics like politics or divert attention from party fouls like spilled drinks can limit the fallout and keep the festive spirit alive.

Similarly, even the best-planned project is bound to have a few bumps in the road. Prepare for these by doing the following:

  • Spend a generous amount of time and effort planning before work begins. This includes developing a project plan, a communication plan, and a staffing & resourcing plan.
  • Identify your “must-haves” and differentiate them from the “nice to haves.”
  • Leave contingency time in your project plans for the unknown or unexpected.

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Have a clear start and end time

TimeThis time of year people’s social calendars tend to fill up quickly. Knowing the difference between a three-hour midday gathering and an all-night affair can help guests determine their availability. It also sets an expectation for the event so there are no embarrassing miscommunications like showing up hours early.

On the same token, scheduling activities and setting deadlines for LIMS team resources is a challenge without having a good estimate of the start date and the effort/time required to complete the task. Budgets don’t tend to allow for a never-ending project, so setting a clear goal for when a project starts and ends can help when arranging resources and setting expectations.

Leave some things to the professionals

Professional BakerBinge watching the Food Network right before the holidays doesn’t mean you are ready to cook a four-course meal, despite how easy they make it look! Instead, it’s best to trust in the professionals for help and buy a bakery-made pie or even have your entire event catered. It doesn’t mean you are accepting defeat, it shows you have the end goal in mind. You get to have a great time and not get caught up in doing everything yourself.

Everyone on a LIMS team has a set of skills that can be leveraged for the good of the project. Don’t be afraid to diversify or reinforce your team’s skill set with outside help when you need it. LIMS Subject Matter Experts and Consultants bring a treasure trove of past experience and know how that can be applied to your LIMS project to facilitate your success.

End on a sweet note

Holiday dessertDon’t let a burnt casserole or a failed game of charades ruin your night. Most people will overlook problems if the party ends well. Whether it is a heartfelt sing-a-long or a delicious dessert to end the night, that will be what your guests will remember.

Any LIMS project is bound to have its high and low points. The key is to make sure all parties are satisfied after the work has been completed. Using the tips mentioned above to execute your plan and mitigate any problems along the way helps set you up for success at the end of your project.  But remember that having Subject Matter Experts on-site when you go-live to quickly and personally help your stakeholders should any issues arise can make all the difference in the end.

While there may be no LIMS equivalent to drinking eggnog from a moose mug, the planning and preparation we go through around the holidays can be used as a template for your lab informatics projects.

How do your holiday experiences line up with your lab informatics projects? Have you ever dealt with a Grinch?

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