Many successful organizations have digitally transformed over the past years, and organizations are increasingly following with their efforts on process digitalization. In this aspect, laboratories lag behind, although they are thinking more and more about implementing digital tools to improve their performance (Figure 1).
With laboratory digitalization, you are bound to achieve better efficiency and productivity in your laboratory. On the other hand, digital transformation leads to data integrity and overall changes in organizational culture.
Laboratory digitalization and digital transformation are challenging projects and, if not done properly, are highly likely to fail. That is why it is wise to collaborate with external digitalization consulting companies to avoid unnecessary beginner mistakes.
Who are digitalization experts?
Experts are considered people that possess a high level of knowledge or skill about a particular subject or activity. In the case of digitalization experts, these are the people with experience and expertise in the use of digital technologies to reconstruct organization’s current business model business operations.
Digitalization experts that help laboratories go through digitalization can have many different skills, but they do need to have these 5 main characteristics:
- Experience in implementation of digital technologies in the laboratory
- Broad overview of the available digital technologies
- Deep understanding of laboratory processes and workflows
- Good interpersonal and people management skills
- Business skills
Finding the right consultant to help you with your digitalization projects does not have to be a complicated and time-consuming process. A crucial first step is to have a meeting to get to know your partner and discuss the details of your project.
Consulting process at BioSistemika
BioSistemika’s digitalization consultants are experts who have experience working in the laboratories and understand the business side of organizational structures. With that, you can be sure that you will get a wholesome consultancy that will enable you to go through digitalization successfully.
First, we schedule an introduction meeting with you. After that, we usually sign an NDA and schedule a technical meeting, a consultation meeting with our technical team.
The goal of this meeting is to collect user requirements needed to understand the scope of the project. Based on agreed assumptions and technical information, we prepare a proposal with technical tasks breakdown and a time and budget ball-park estimate.
The agenda of the technical meeting is:
- Team introduction – Besides the key account manager (KAM), there is always one senior digitalization consultant and one developer present on BioSistemika’s side. Ideally, you will have at least one person familiar with the project’s requirements and/or technical details present on your side.
- Your project presentation – You will explain the current state-of-the-art in your laboratory and the goal of the project. It is important that we also discuss your vision of laboratory or company business processes so that this may be taken into account when planning the scope of the project. The more information we get, the fewer things will be left to assume, and the proposed time & budget will be more precise.
- Discussion about user requirements – Our team will ask you questions to collect as much information as possible about your project.
- Set up a time for the next meeting – We will schedule the next appointment to present our proposal.
Based on our experience, we established a 4-step approach to digitalization, which enables both involved parties accountable and up-to-date with the current state of digitalization.
1. Evaluation of the current state-of-the-art
In this stage of a digitalization process, you need to evaluate your state-of-the-art and collect your requirements for the project.
We do this through a series of interviews and meetings with different stakeholders. The number of interactions depends on the scope of the project. For example, suppose you are looking to implement an ELN. In that case, much fewer meetings are needed compared to if you are entirely transforming all your processes, and an ecosystem of applications needs to be selected. The approximate number of meetings is discussed during the technical meeting.
The most common deliverables of this phase are:
- User requirements document
- Business architecture – Existing and predicted business processes are mapped as described in our article Laboratory process mapping.
- An executive summary document or presentation
2. Fit/Gap analysis and solution proposal
In the fit/gap analysis stage, we take a closer look into the process bottlenecks and other challenges that the organization or laboratory is facing. These can include cybersecurity, HR, user adoption, and others.
Identifying the bottlenecks in your processes is crucial so that you can apply the right solution that fixes them. The solutions that fix the biggest bottlenecks usually have the fastest ROI, as you can read in our article Digitalization – Return on investment. Moreover, you do not need to address all challenges at once. However, you must recognize them from the start and plan how you will tackle them.
The most common deliverables of this phase are:
- Data architecture – A description and modeling of how data is collected and how it is stored, arranged, integrated, and put to use in data systems and organization.
- Application architecture – A suite of application or custom solutions is proposed and described how they are poised to work together.
- A fit-gap analysis document or presentation with key findings and recommendations.
There are many out-of-the-box laboratory solutions available. However, sometimes a custom software development is needed to address some very specific user requirements.
BioSistemika also specializes in custom software development for laboratories and can help with the development of your tailored software solution.
3. Digitalization strategy and implementation plan
After you have defined the requirements for your project and addressed the gaps and challenges, it is time to define an exact timeline, milestones, deliverables, and budget in a Digitalization strategy document.
Having a Digitalization strategy document in place brings the following benefits:
- The strategy supports the organization’s vision.
- Everyone is on the same page, meaning that all employees understand what an organization aims to achieve in the future.
- It helps organization management to plan a budget.
- Based on the Digitalization strategy document, an internal and external communication strategy is prepared so that employees stay up-to-date with the progress.
- It serves as a basis to establish and nurture a digital culture within an organization, as explained in our article Building a digital culture.
Not all digitalization projects, however, need this strategic document. It is usually prepared for organizations that are looking to go through a thorough organization’s digital transformation. For individual laboratories or digitalization projects on a smaller scale, an implementation plan can be done as a part of the solution proposal in Stage 3.
4. Solution implementation
The implementation scope of a software solution(s) selected in Stage 2: Fit/gap analysis & solution proposal depends heavily on the type and the complexity of the solution(s). Software vendors usually offer tailored onboarding, which is specific to their solutions.
The implementation stage is a critical step in any digitalization project. Many projects fail because the organization did not allocate enough time and resources to follow through with the entire process.
BioSistemika, on the other hand, helps in the following ways:
- Consult on how to engage internal resources so that the implementation is finished on-time and within the budget.
- Set-up the right KPIs that measure the success of implementation.
- Provide ideas to set-up a feedback mechanism, which helps project managers set up a platform that enables feedback and information exchange between the end-users and project managers.
- Coach key stakeholders on the topic of how to overcome user-adoption challenges.
- Digitalization projects can increase your laboratory’s efficiency and productivity.
- More and more laboratories realize that they need to go digital.
- Laboratory digitalization and digital transformation are complex projects and it is wise to get help from experienced digitalization consultants.
- We developed a 4-step approach to digitalization:
- Evaluation of the current state-of-the-art – A series of interviews and meetings with all stakeholders and processes mapping.
- Fit/Gap analysis and solution proposal – An analysis prepared by BioSistemika, that exposes gaps and bottlenecks in the processes. Solutions that address these are proposed.
- Digitalization strategy and implementation plan – A strategy with a clear timeline, deliverables, milestones, and budget is put in place.
- Implementation of solutions – Depending on the solution, we help with implementation, provide trainings to overcome user adoption challenges, and propose KPIs to monitor the success of implementation.