Typical resourcing questions that arise when an organization embarks on a LIMS project include “What skill sets, how many resources, and what time commitment will be needed to guarantee success for our LIMS project?” First off, let me clearly state that there is no magic formula that will guarantee the success of your LIMS project. Besides the proper resources and resource levels there are many factors including planning, communication, and change management (to name a few) that are all critical to a LIMS project’s success.
That being said, depending on your environment (i.e. regulated vs. unregulated) and your organization’s experience level with laboratory informatics (total newbies vs. long term users), your chances of success will be greatly enhanced by properly staffing your LIMS project.
In order to have a successful LIMS project there are a variety of roles that will need to be supported. These may or may not be full time positions during the LIMS project and some may continue on after the LIMS is up and running. These include:
Determining the number and time commitments for each role can be challenging. There are many factors that affect the number of resources that you will need to successfully implement your LIMS. The top two factors will be the size of your implementation and the speed with which you wish to have your LIMS up and running.
The larger the organization, number of departments, and number of sites, the larger your LIMS project team will become. Additionally, the shorter your LIMS implementation timeline is the more resources you will need to be successful. It is important to note that adding more resources will not necessarily allow you to compress your timeline. Many of the tasks can’t be done in parallel. So just “throwing more bodies at it” may not really help.
Other important resourcing considerations will be your environment (i.e. regulated or non-regulated), your LIMS experience level, and the degree of automation you wish to implement. Not all of the roles described above will require full time commitments for the duration of your LIMS project. It is recommended, however, that even part-time resources have the LIMS project designated as one of their top priorities.
So where are you going to get the resources to staff up your LIMS project? Obviously, the best source, although not always the easiest to secure, is within your own laboratory and organization. In fact, for several of the roles such as your Executive Sponsor and LIMS team members, this will be your only viable source. It is important that you firmly establish the time commitments for resources that get assigned to your LIMS project. It is not uncommon that these resources will still have their “day job” responsibilities.
The other great source for resources will be your LIMS vendor. It is very important that you establish a great working relationship with the provider of your LIMS. They will generally have very experienced resources and will have a vested interest in ensuring that your project is a success. After all, they will want to use you as a reference going forward.
Finally, you may want to engage with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and consultants when staffing your LIMS project. This is a great way to supplement your team and add expertise to your project. Make sure that any LIMS consultant you engage is independent (i.e. not in a vendor’s pocket), has expertise in implementing a LIMS in your type of laboratory, and has expertise in your particular LIMS. A truly independent LIMS consultant will have only your interests in mind and will be able to act as a trusted advisor for you. Also, they will have the time to accomplish their role without other distractions, unlike many internal resources.
Was your LIMS project adequately resourced? Tell us about it below in the comments.