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The decision to implement an automation solution in your lab can be a daunting one. It is an investment in your lab and your team and as such, due care and attention are both necessary and required.
To that end, therefore, it’s important to keep in mind a number of key steps to ensure your automation journey gets off to the best possible start.
5 Key Steps
- Begin with the end in mind – meaning, automation has to be part of your overall strategy. What are you aiming to achieve? What is the outcome you want? What other steps are you taking to enable your lab to realize those goals? When it comes to automation, the question is more along the lines of how it fits and complements your lab strategy and goals. In order for it to be successful, there has to be a fit otherwise. What you want to avoid are piecemeal solutions that simply don’t gel and don’t form part of a logical, reasonable and cohesive approach to enable your strategy.
- Get your team behind it – you need to be a line of one. The people aspect is a critical factor. Automation solutions live and die by the people using it (or not using it!) irrespective of how brilliant it may be or how wonderful. Your intentions can also be spot on in that you are doing it to enable your team to focus on value-adding activities, however, if they don’t know that, if they are not brought along on the journey, then all these benefits can be lost.
- Communicate the why of automation – this goes hand in hand with getting your team behind it. Does your team know why lab automation is the right decision for your lab? Chances are (hopefully) you know why you want to implement it but don’t assume your team automatically knows too. If you will assume anything, assume they don’t know and assume they don’t understand the benefits. This will help you communicate the “why.” The “why” also includes the roadmap – the path you’re going to take as a team to get there with all the necessary milestones and responsibilities.
- Take a commercial perspective – far too often this is not really considered but it needs to be. Automation is not a “nice to have” or a “lovely to have.” Let’s be clear, it’s a terrific asset in the lab but like all assets it has to show a Return on Investment. Your lab is your business. The numbers have to add up and you have a responsibility to your team and to your business to ensure you consider the ROI of any solution you are considering.
- Take your time – you don’t have to rush into a decision. Whilst you don’t want to be dragging your feet, you also don’t want to make a rash decision as to what solution you select. There are too many examples of labs making the “wrong” choice and too many instruments sitting in labs gathering dust as a result. Take your time. Do your research. Ask questions. Speak to other labs to learn from their experiences. Go to trade shows. Discuss options with multiple suppliers. The list is endless. Automation speeds things up but you don’t need to speed into a choice. You need to choose wisely and select the solution that is right for your lab today and moving forward (back to the strategy point).
If you are considering a move into lab automation, then please reach out. We are keen to hear from you and show you how we can help.