I’m not going to sugarcoat this…LIMS implementations can suck at first. The vendors may not tell you that in their seamless demos or slick PowerPoint presentations, but business practices will change throughout the whole organization, some things may take longer than they did before, and almost everyone’s likely to hate the new system. These considerable changes can lead to employee confusion, resistance, and a breakdown in communications. This has the potential to lower the system’s value and negatively impact your project’s ROI.
So, how do you effectively make the best of the situation? In this blog, we’ll advocate for well-established, effective Organizational Change Management (OCM) practices that can ease the pain of LIMS implementations and manage the changes that go along with a new enterprise application. OCM won’t help you avoid the pain altogether, but at least everyone will know that there’s a plan and it has an end point.
A new LIMS is a high-value investment, but transitioning from the current state to the better, post-implementation state can be painful for the lab team and any other department that interacts with the lab. A well-implemented LIMS requires tasks that will be difficult for a lot of users at first:
People simply do not like change—regardless of the promised benefits—and will resist moving to new ways of working. Few implementations can meet all the needs of all users. Project teams must balance costs and features, so not everyone will be pleased with the proposed solutions.
Effective OCM and clear communication with all stakeholders is the best way to overcome new LIMS implementation hurdles and get everyone’s cooperation. When everyone feels informed and involved, there is less fear and less resistance to the change.
A comprehensive OCM plan is the not-so-dirty secret to a successful implementation. Most vendors manage implementation projects to minimize their own risks, but an OCM plan helps laboratories keep control of the project and better advocate for themselves. Good change management practices are available, but managing client-side change is rarely in-scope for a software vendor.
OCM plans address how the organization or project team will handle common change management tasks, such as:
In addition, the OCM plan should address organization-specific and even stakeholder-specific issues that might arise. For example,
The steps to building a really great OCM plan are:
When you work with a CSols project leader on your LIMS implementation, you will get someone who understands the value of OCM and makes it a priority.
Additional components of successful organizational change can include training plans, communications plans, and plans for post-go-live support. Of these, the communications plan is probably the most important. Being honest with the stakeholders and end-users about the inconvenience they will experience will set expectations and, perhaps, increase user adoption. Despite your candor throughout the implementation process, you can expect some resistance to change. This happens for a number of reasons:
When communicating with employees, empathy and a clear path to resolution are also important in overcoming resistance to change. If your lab staff are informed about how the change is in their best interests, they will embrace it.
Putting an OCM plan in place before the LIMS implementation begins allows everyone to see the path forward and understand the pain points from the beginning. When it’s done well, the OCM plan supports the ultimate goal of a successful LIMS implementation. A successful LIMS implementation increases data integrity, decreases the time it takes for samples to be run through the lab, and gets results to the right person faster. Your lab’s capacity will increase, and the overall business will be more agile. In the end, your business will be able to make faster decisions with better access to reliable data.
Have you had experience with organizational change management, for good or ill, in your LIMS integration? Tell us about it in the comments.