Optimizing an NGS Clinical Diagnostic laboratory for growth is no small task. Laboratory and technical leads, and other stakeholders, understand full well the complexity of the business and recognize the risk in hiring the wrong consultants to help them modernize their software and update their technology.
That doesn’t mean it’s better to use internal development resources, though. The right consultants bring to the table not just software expertise but also in-depth knowledge of the clinical diagnostics sector and regulations that could help your lab accelerate profitability and growth.
Isn’t it less risky to use internal development resources?
This question is less straightforward than you might think. There can be an upside to using an internal development team. They may know some or all of your existing software stack, have established relationships with the laboratory team, have acquired some informatics knowledge specific to your business, and they’re easily accessible.
However, they could be missing some critical capabilities. Embedded in the lab’s daily work, internal resources can find it difficult to stay up to speed with software engineering advances. How well do they understand usability principles, software design and architecture, and the importance of scalable and repeatable processes? These are all things that an experienced team of consultants can help you with, offering either a guiding hand or full responsibility for project success.
An experienced consultant can also virtually “see around corners.” After working with many clients on numerous systems in quick succession, consultants recognize the pitfalls and issues that commonly arise. Most importantly, they know how to avoid them. With client satisfaction as their main incentive, they’re more likely to provide you with solutions that are well-documented, concise, accessible, and transferable.
Another important factor to consider is the time, cost, and risk of onboarding new resources when key internal staff members leave the team. Where it can take several months to train a new person on your laboratory systems, the right team of consultants can quickly step in and have an immediate impact.
In sum, a consultant could offer a lower risk and more attractive system-level cost of ownership when compared to internal resources, particularly when your organization is managing risk on multiple fronts. That’s why we recommend taking the time and effort to find a consultant who is the right fit—a consultant with the appropriate industry experience and software expertise, and an understanding of how to address your strategic growth goals.
If you want to hire a consultant, what should you be looking for?
We recommend choosing a team of consultants with the following competencies:
- Mature, documented business processes that you can rely on to accelerate your journey and lead to successful and timely completion of the project.
- Industry and subject matter expertise in the NGS Clinical Diagnostic sector and laboratory information management systems (LIMS).
- Knowledge of industry regulatory requirements, including CLIA, CAP, and federal approvals.
- Continuity of staff, who work in a collaborative and agile manner, and can quickly understand existing systems and workflows.
- A clear process for knowledge transfer and project handoff that lets an internal team take over maintenance of and responsibility for a system that is well-constructed and documented.
- A strategic view of the laboratory business of the future.
- Recognition of the boundaries of their specific domain expertise, and a robust network of trusted organizations for areas that require additional expertise.
Each of these competencies is interrelated. If a consultant cannot demonstrate that they have mature business processes, it’s unlikely their team has the expertise to help you realize your business goals or maintain knowledge of your lab’s software systems on your behalf. On the other hand, if a consultant can show you their documented processes, that could be a good indicator that their team is similarly mature and stable.
Evaluating consultants based on the maturity of their processes and team, as well as their domain knowledge and specialized software expertise, can make all the difference. The right consultant will understand your goals and ensure you have the appropriate software infrastructure and process in place so you can scale your business and respond to changing regulatory requirements in an evolving market.
We have invested significant time and resources in our structured continuous-improvement program so that you know you’re always in safe hands, whether you need to address the smallest inefficiencies or implement a wholesale laboratory software transformation. If you’d like to find out how you can leverage our work, please don’t hesitate to contact me.