I have a friend who does similar consulting to mine but that he works in the PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) sector. Years ago, he found a product that could handle any of the customers that came his way and with an associated cost that scaled well to the size of customer implementing the product. He altogether stopped doing product selections for customers and started telling them he had the solution for them. I’ve been envious of this every since he told me.
Too Much Programming and Tools That Are Not That Good
First of all, after all these years, I can’t believe how many of us are still spending most of our time programming here in the LIMS, ELN, LES industry. With all the hype about how “configurable” the systems we use are, too many of them are still too heavily based on doing programming to get them to work.
After all these years working with these systems, I had hoped that we would have better tools than we have. I had hoped we’d have some collection of “ultimate” systems that could be based on strong workflow engines that are easy to use, as well as configuration that is powerful.
Why This is So Difficult for Us
Some of the problem has to do with the complex data we work with. As just one example, creating product specifications will probably never be easy. There are tools that make it less painful, but none that can take away the fact that there are so many moving parts to them that have to be checked.
In addition, because we cross so many different industries and types of workflows, it can be challenging to test out a product in the various scenarios it would have to address.
On the other hand, other industries have complex data and workflow variety. To a certain extent, we’ve become good at making excuses for our lack of progress.
Why Product Selections Are So Hard to Do
Lately, I’ve had quite a few product selections come my way and I tend to ask people what systems they’ve worked on and what they liked and didn’t like about them. Here are some issues I continue to hear about these past systems people have worked with, and they usually mean brands that are still selling and popular when they mention these problems:
- They’re too complicated to learn and manage for the company to eventually be able to manage the system, internally, and in a cost-effective manner.
- The systems are so complicated they require support from IT-type teams as large as the scientific groups they service. This is a huge expense.
- Some of the products are not powerful enough to handle any real variety in the workflows.
I would like to be able to approach the issue of product selections the way my PLM-based friend does – that there are some good tools that can show they can handle the majority of the configuration issues we could throw at them and just start using those solutions, exclusively. In addition, and maybe I’m just dreaming, here, but it would fantastic if they systems had great tools and documentation to go along with them.
Unfortunately, if there is such a product, I doubt I’ll find it. I can imagine that the response when I post this is that software vendors will contact me to try to give me a demo of their system. As I always say, you can’t “know” a system by a demo – you can only know it by using it. And, since there’s limited time in all our days, there are a tiny number of products any of us will ever really “know.”