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Mr. LIMS Speaks: Change Management…Possibly the largest cost of implementing a LIMS

By Mr. LIMS | October 4, 2021

Newton’s First Law of Motion states that a body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it, and a body in motion at a constant velocity will remain in motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an outside force.

These natural laws apply equally when applied to a LIMS implementation or just about any new system or procedure that your lab implements. The very nature of lab work is to apply a standardized process and procedure to the work or tests being performed and to resist change to those processes.

Unless you take the concept of “Change Management” into account in the implementation up front, you will be left with a very costly LIMS implementation and a potential for project failure.

There are many articles and books written on the topic of Change Management so I will not try to restate what is already said so well by others. The purpose of this post is to share a few of those good articles with you and to highlight a few areas that are specific to laboratories that need to be dealt with early in order to assure project success.

Here are a few good articles on the topic of Change Management in general:

  1. https://questoraclecommunity.org/learn/blogs/how-to-handle-change-management-for-system-upgrades/
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Change_management
  3. https://asq.org/quality-resources/change-management

Here are few key areas in the lab that the change management process will affect and you need to take these into account early:

  1. Organizational changes – This can be the most frightening for lab folks so tread carefully. Build a before and after diagram of the organization and then get buy-in.
  2. SOP Changes – This area is almost a given that there will be changes. Get a training program in place that will run parallel with the training on the new system. This will truly cover the bulk of what makes up change management for the lab.
  3. Workflows – Build workflows around the existing organization and SOP’s and workflows that are post change and identify the gap and train the affected staff on those workflow changes. You will find not only that staff are surprised at what actually exists and how things work in the company currently but possibly get better buy-in because knowledge has empowered those same staff and given the company better quality because of the new knowledge.
  4. Implementation Scope – Work with your LIMS vendor to define their scope in the change management process. Change Management is an internal responsibility your LIMS vendor will help you to what ever extent you feel makes sense. Consult with the vendor early in the relationship to make sure that the implementation scope of the vendor has the services in place to help you with the change management.

Finally, what are the risks of not applying change management to the LIMS implementation? Simple… project changes and cost over runs and user buy-in resistance. You will find these costs add up quickly and can kill the project. You can mitigate the risks by starting early before you even decide on a new system. Get with staff early and get buy-in and remove the obstacles to change or no change will happen. This step will determine whether you change or stay the same. If the change is too costly and does not give the roi, then things will need to stay the same until new forces cause change to the ROI calculus.

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