THE ZEFSCI BLOG
3 Steps for Creating a Laboratory Asset Management Strategy [Case Study Example]
Managing laboratory assets requires a sound strategy that addresses the needs of all stakeholders. Here’s how to create one.
Laboratories have expensive assets. Managing and caring for these critical assets properly requires a sound laboratory asset management strategy. And it’s one that must satisfy several different stakeholders.
Today we’re going to look at what goes into creating a solid asset management strategy, and how to identify the right service providers and service plans for your operations.
How to Create a Laboratory Asset Management Strategy – 3 Steps
Step 1 – Define the Assets Critical to Your Operations
The first step to any lab asset management plan is to identify which assets are critical. A critical asset can mean many different things depending on your lab’s operations.
Here are some questions you can ask to determine which assets are critical to your laboratory.
- Are your critical assets determined by the cost of the asset? The more expensive it is to repair and maintain, the more critical to your operations the asset is.
- Is it the way your lab uses the assets? The more the asset is used to produce integral research, the more critical it is to your lab asset management plan.
- Is criticality determined by the location or department? Maybe some lab or department locations are working on more critical systems and functions than other locations.
- Is it the assets that generate the most revenue? CROs especially need certain systems up and running more than others. Otherwise, their operation will grind to a halt.
Any of these definitions (or a combination of them), could indicate the criticality of your laboratory assets. Once you have your definition of what a critical asset is, you can begin determining how many critical assets you have. Then, you can move on to identifying the key stakeholders.
Step 2 – Identify the Stakeholders
After critical assets are identified, you must identify the stakeholders that will be affected by your lab asset management plan. Knowing the specific needs of each group is essential to finding consensus in your lab asset management plan.
Here are the typical groups involved:
- Scientists or End Users – people who use the assets to do their work.
- Finance and purchasing departments – the corporate level employees responsible for operations costs, budgeting and purchasing equipment.
- Lab Directors – people managing the end users and scientists.
- Facilities Managers – typically present in larger companies and laboratories where there are multiple divisions and locations to manage.
Your operations may have more stakeholders than these, so make sure you’re accounting for everyone who will be affected by your lab asset management strategy. Once you identify those key stakeholders, you can begin to determine their needs and find a way to merge them.
Step 3 – Build a Roadmap to Merge Their Needs
With your stakeholders in mind, now you must review your provider options, and know what they can do to make each stakeholder happy with the plan.
Here is a typical breakdown of lab asset service providers and the needs they help meet.
- Asset Management – Manages all assets critical or not and attempts to consolidate them into a simple service and management plan. These serve the needs of facilities and finance teams while likely making lab directors and end users upset with inconsistent service.
- Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) – Specialist for their own product and some OEMs also manage assets. This direction will most likely make the end users happy since they form relationships with the engineers and feel most confident, but it’s a challenge for facilities and finance teams to keep track of the contracts.
- In-House Metrology Team – Your lab will have full control over servicing, but this approach requires a lot of traceability and training. Plus, your lab will assume 100% liability, which will make facilities and finance teams antsy.
- Independent ISOs – These are specialists in their specific fields, but not a jack of all trades. Scientists and end users will feel comfortable, but again, it’s hard for finance and facilities teams to keep track.
- Freelancers – These are also service specialists, but they usually come in at a lower rate than independent ISOs. They carry higher risks due to the lack of infrastructure around them. Again, these providers may make lab directors and end users happy if you find a reliable freelancer, but facilities teams may not like having less control and assurances.
The Bottom Line – A Hybrid Approach Is Best
Clearly, it is a challenge to meet the needs of everyone using only one type of laboratory service provider. Therefore, a hybrid approach to service providers and lab asset management is necessary to get buy in from all teams involved. Multiple solutions and service providers are needed to ensure all stakeholder teams are happy and your global lab asset management program is a success.
Let’s look at a real-world example to see how a hybrid approach works.
Case Study – Hybrid Laboratory Asset Management Model
If you take a single approach to laboratory asset management, it can leave key stakeholder groups unhappy and with little control. In this case study example, we have a major pharmaceutical company located in Massachusetts with over 12,000 assets.
The Original Plan – Exclusive Lab Manager and Director-Driven Decisions
Originally, this pharmaceutical company was managing assets through the lab managers and directors. The plan those teams came up with included mostly OEM service contracts across all their assets. As a result, the services were mostly reactive to the needs of the instruments at hand instead of proactive and planned.
This plan ultimately led to happy scientists and lab directors. However, corporate and facilities stakeholders were unhappy, left without any control and rising costs, making their jobs more difficult.
The Pivot – Facilities Management and Finance-Driven Decisions
Because of the problems with the first plan, they adjusted and gave decision-making powers to the facilities and finance departments. This led to facilities overseeing all service contracts, leaving the end users and lab directors with no chance for input.
Predictably, this plan led to a happy corporate team with facilities controlling contracts and repairs, bringing costs down for the finance department. However, it led to unhappy and unmotivated scientists and end users.
The End Goal – A Successful Hybrid Asset Management Program
After the problem with the first two plans, this pharmaceutical company went back to the drawing board and settled on a hybrid plan that gave concessions to both groups.
In this plan, they hired an asset management provider to manage all assets. They gave lab directors and end users more control over the critical assets. In return, the lab directors and end users gave up some control over noncritical and safety assets.
Facilities continues to deal directly with the suppliers for critical assets to ensure the continued success of the program. Overall, this program helped address the needs of all stakeholders while providing full coverage for all critical assets ensuring they remain up and running.
Building a plan that works for all stakeholders involved should be key to your asset management program. Choose your service providers and technicians in each category based on the engineers doing the work. From there, you can confirm SLAs (service level agreements) in each category and attempt to consolidate as much as possible.
Lastly, always make sure you’re benchmarking and keeping track of key metrics to ensure the success of the program for the long term.
As you build out your hybrid lab asset management strategy, consider adding ZefSci to your list of vendors. Our expert engineers can work on all your LCMS equipment. Contact us today to see how we can help your operations.