The importance of laboratory planning activities
Several Gartner & Mc Kinsey reports state since a while, that laboratory resource scheduling is one of the most critical and complex task to be managed. At the end of the day, being able to deliver results in the most reliable and efficient way remains the most important goal for a laboratory manager.
The relevance of timely delivery results
Laboratory resource scheduling is critical for any organization benefiting of the results of an analysis for performing critical business decision, like batch release or corrections in production as soon as results are known. It is even more critical when the whole company business is based on the laboratory activities such as services organization.
Timely delivery of results can make a huge financial difference. As such, delays may lead to financial losses.
- An average of 10% Highly skilled FTE of a laboratory team is dedicated to resources scheduling
- An average of 30% management time is wasted in updating internal & external customers on results delivery time
The challenge is that the laboratories are one of the most complicated departments to schedule. If the requests sent to laboratories are related to large mix and different products and the number of available resources is high, the best optimal combination becomes very difficult to find.
Nowadays, mostly paper-based processes and Excel based activities are used to calculate the best response to the demand. Consequently, a huge amount of man hours, mostly highly skilled resources like supervisors, are consumed to find the best combination of resources, analysts and instruments, in order to release validated laboratory results on delivery date. Supervisors are spending a large amount of their time to prepare the schedule for the coming days, adjust it when the demand suddenly changes and re-design it when the pool of resources is unexpectedly suddenly not available.
The hidden costs of Laboratory scheduling activities
Without a sophisticated system in place, daily meetings are arranged to update on the status of the laboratories tasks. This leads to a huge amount of man hours spent every year just to communicate regularly to stakeholders on how things are going and when results will be delivered.
This time is not only spent to update external departments about the situation in the lab. It is often dedicated to collect unplanned requests that are generating even more challenges on the resource scheduling. As unplanned typically means, those requests need to find their place in the already defined schedule.
As a result, planned pools are down-sized and efficiency diminishes, generating a never ending backlog. Extra hours are required and overstressed team force, and extra cost is the financial outcome.
Proper planning is the only option to reduce backlog, increase capacity and decrease laboratory costs. A computerized system is the only efficient response to the challenges of resource planning for laboratories. It allows monitoring on regular basis too and ease the definition of concrete KPIs to verify that the implementation of the processes is driving to increase capacity, faster response and higher quality
The hidden cost of home-made, Excel file solutions
Home-made solutions require of dedicated time and resource for its development and even more for its maintenance and validation. Without mentioning the energy and time to create, maintain Excel files that are offering per se limited security.
“Home-made” solutions or Excel files should not be considered the response to the key questions related to resource scheduling. The major limitations of those systems may lead to inability to respond to the business demands in a short period of time.
While a scalable, technically advanced and secure system like Optima offers the opportunity to establish a central repository for all the information related to the key performances of the laboratories: respond on time and use the resources in the most effective way.
Optima: the solution for your laboratory resources management
Optima offers key elements to deliver the expected results.
- Automation of incoming requests
- A sophisticated system to schedule activities
- A simple user interface to present the daily or weekly tasks
- Flexible reports and dashboards
- Advanced analytics
The ability to adjust according to priorities, urgencies, changes in demand or unexpected events that lead to decreased resource availability are key functionalities for this type of systems. Modelling is an advanced feature that allows laboratories to design scenarios and see how the lab can adapt and respond.
Optima: a single platform, simple solution to a complex challenge
Optima removes completely the hidden costs with a licencing proposal that suits any type of laboratory, from the smallest ones to the global implementations.
- A simple API library allows the connection to the systems already used to manage laboratory samples such as LIMS and ERP…
- A sophisticated engine able to schedule the tasks in the most adequate manner according to the laboratory needs
- A very intuitive user interface allows the end users to see the task list or switch to a calendar view where all tasks are presented in a friendly view.
- Moving tasks in case of unexpected events is as simple as a “drag-and-drop” action in the calendar itself, as we are used to do when we move meetings in our agenda.
All activities not strictly related to analysis can be stored, tracked and reported to evaluate in a simple report the amount of time dedicated to the different practices.
While the advanced analytics allows the design of complex scenarios to see which is the best option to support the business requirements.
The use of Optima starts virtually from day one
A very comprehensive implementation program complements the application ensuring a rapid success and large return on investment.
After regular use of Optima, a complete picture of the laboratory performance is easily drawn by using the built-in reports or simply by exporting the information to any external tool for further analysis.
Optima also lowers the communication barriers in multiple configurable ways:
- Automatic regular updates to stakeholders
- Direct external access to the system with defined user configuration
- Provision of regular programmed reports
Last but not least, the technological platform chosen by Optima is the ideal investment for a software that will endure for several years in the IT ecosystem of any company. From the end-user point of view, any web browser can connect to Optima without the need to install anything on the computer.