When beginning any laboratory automation project and before initiating talks with automation vendors, it is essential to meet with all stakeholders involved with the lab process as well as all the upstream and downstream processes. This is the first step in breaking down typical process and data silos in your organization. Process/Data silos are essentially data information and procedural silos that one department has adapted over time. Unplanned changes upstream or downstream can have debilitating effects on other processes and cause short or long term damage to an organization.
It’s best to get buy-in from your stakeholders and clients before any major capital dollars are spent and any drastic changes to upstream processes are made.
When it comes to automating processes in a lab, people often overlook the human aspect. As such, we must consider all aspects of the transition that are physical and also technical. Lab automation systems are often created with the help of human input, adaptability, alignment, and, most importantly: communication.
Many corporations find it incredibly difficult to align to the new changes when laboratory automation is first implemented. Process change brought on by automation adoption typically disrupts an organization’s muscle memory and traditional processes, but it does not mean that the workload stops. With the help of lab automation companies and multidisciplinary team members, many of these issues can be addressed early in the implementation process.
When there is a strong collaboration between stakeholders and laboratory staff, productivity is preserved during this temporary disruption. Every automation project is unique, but a few practices can be followed to ensure synchronization among colleagues, which results in positive outcomes not only throughout the implementation process but also afterward.
You have decided to automate your lab’s processes, and while it is an excellent first step, it cannot be done until all the stakeholders on board are responsible for carrying it forward. Your most important step will be identifying who these stakeholders are, either going to support the project or be affected by it. This is an excellent opportunity to gain staff involvement and perhaps even excite them with this project. You can show them how their input will impact their roles and what the lab offers in the future.
The stakeholders will be responsible for offering you insights regarding updates and modifications inside the system. They will bring their backgrounds, knowledge, skillset, and experience to the overall planning process.
Once you have identified who the stakeholders are, you must meet them. In this meeting, you will develop desirable outcomes and needs that you expect from the project. You will also explain to the stakeholders their roles and responsibilities during the planning and execution process. It is simply best to put all cards on the table at this point.
Set goals that are achievable and can be quantified, rather than goals your team cannot reach. Try to avoid thinking short-term, and think beyond one or two years so that you can consider all the updates and expansions that will be required in the next decade to come, but now.
Want to learn more about how you can include stakeholders in automation projects? Reach out to our experts in lab automation at Retisoft.