Poplar Solutions, LLC

Paperless laboratories do better science

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Courtesy of Courtesy of Poplar Solutions, LLC

I was reading an article today that appeared in Scientific Computing on May 19, 2014 entitled, “Paperless Laboratories Do Better Science”. I have been reflecting on the content of this article as it relates to our Labcore customers now and over the years and thinking our experience reinforces some of the authors main points. This blog post specifically focuses on the importance of ‘change management’ when replacing ‘paper-based’ processes.

When a laboratory wants to move from a “paper-based” to a “paperless” way of doing things it can be stressful for those workers who have developed routines and patterns for getting their work completed. Success largely depends on the ‘change management’ affecting those people as much as the new technology being implemented. In our experience there was sometimes resistance or fear when management even whispered the word ‘change’. I have found that good ‘change management’ involves making sure those effected by the changes (i.e. having to do their jobs differently) have been included or consulted in the design and implementation to make sure that the assumed new method or workflow does not make their jobs harder. The whole purpose of Labcore, and every other document management system I have ever been involved in implementing over the past 15 years, has been make work more efficient; to make life easier and less stressful for workers, management and customers.

There is no getting around a learning curve for changing the way people do their job, but if the system is designed and implemented correctly an organization can minimize, and even eliminate, disruptions or downtime in productivity. The feedback should be more like what we heard from DHL Analytical’s General Manager, John Dupont, who said “It’s real user friendly. It took no more than a day to learn how to copy my name into a report.” Or the feedback we heard from QA/QC Specialist, Angie O’Donnell, who excitedly shared with me about why she liked Labcore, “when you take a three hour job and make it into a 1 minute job its really been like the Holy Grail.”

You can expect great results when you get key people in the organization involved and providing feedback on the new paperless system and when the the software engineers carefully listen to that feedback and truly focus on efficiency and making systems less labor intensive and intuitive. When it is done right, you should expect no one will want to turn back the clock to the old ‘paper-based’ ways. Just like this feedback from Gayle Dagnell of the contract research organization Evotec. She observed ‘People initially did not want to change.’ But after implementation of a new informatics system within the organization: ‘100 per cent said they did not want to go back to the old way of doing things’.

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