How do you compete for LIMS staff? Small companies and projects, especially, find themselves looking for ways to attract people away from the larger ones.
Background on What I Have to Say About Competing For LIMS Staff
I have now spent the majority of my working career working as a consultant with a wide variety of companies. These companies vary wildly both in size and in industry. I have worked on some of the largest and the smallest projects, at this point. These days, it’s the way that business has turned that large projects don’t need my services as much as the small ones, Despite all my years working with any variety of systems, interfacing them, or any aspect of my work, my work has begun to increasingly move toward the smaller projects.
With that said, regardless of the size of the company or project, there are always staffing issues to ensure that everything gets staffed, properly.
First of all, consider that people like me are some of the few who even have the option to go off on our own. We have the experience and contacts to do it. Remember that we make up an entire pool of people that answer that question, “Where have all the experienced people gone?” That’s the first thing to consider but there are still plenty of talented people out there. The other “place” a lot of the experienced consultants have gone is that they now have “regular” jobs within the customer companies.
In any case, I’ve worked with a lot of customers regarding their issues. Customers and potential customers speak to me fairly frequently on their frustrations.
With that said, here are some tips.
Competing for LIMS Staff If You’re Huge
Suppose that you’re a huge company. Let’s say that you’re a top 5 pharma or consumer goods company. Even if you’re not nearly that big, this is still the section for you. Suppose that if you have the tiniest amount of work you need done. Many of your employers no longer seem to allow exceptions to allow you to go outside your preferred vendor program to get those people.
Just plan that you have to stick with your preferred vendor programs and you have to live with that. If you’re not getting enough people you really are going to have so many projects going on that it makes sense to hire at least a few people that have great skills, if you can get them. If you can break out of the silo approach, find people that can work across as many of your areas as possible. They can do some of the work. They can also manage the teams of people you will get from your preferred vendors because you need someone internal to make sure you’re getting the people and work you’re paying for. I know it sounds like a lot of work. That’s why you might need more than one of them.
Yes, start by trying to hire the right person! Once, again, if you’re going to keep them in a silo, it’s not going to work as well as if they can be applying their expertise and learning within many areas. Also, they can act as backups for each other, if you have several of them. Here’s an analogy for you, “Do you seed your lawn one seed at a time?” No, you don’t. Instead, use a “spreader.” Get people who can be “spread” among your projects, applying their technical knowledge among them. I want to stress that I’m not talking about the situation where you hire them for six months to get things up-to-speed. I’m talking about making a long-term committee to a direct hire.
Let’s go back to the issue of that small amount of work to be done for that specialty system. Many of these specialty systems can be handled by that one person. They just have to learn about it. For example, as a consultant, I’ve had to learn many systems, both large and small. I’ve worked with the LabWare LIMS / ELN, Thermo Fisher Scientific Informatics SampleManager LIMS / LES, LabVantage LIMS / ELN / LES / SDMS, learned the AutoScribe LIMS, iVention iLES, and others. I have to interface these with a variety of systems and, as such, had to learn a little something about these systems, as well. I could go on-and-on on the different aspects of various industries I’ve worked with but I think that’s both boring for me to write and you to read. So, just imagine it’s massive and we’ll move along.
In any case, it doesn’t take a consultant to do that. If you find someone who has had to learn multiple systems in their job, they’re a great candidate. But remember, learning the second system is just as hard as learning the first. It’s the person who knows two systems that can probably learn the third and fourth systems.
Competing for LIMS Staff if You’re Small
If you’re small, you’ve probably already been thinking about ways to compete with the big companies and projects. You’re usually thinking about it with regard to employees and the benefits you can offer.
By the way, depending how small you are and how much LIMS or ELN work you have, just hiring someone with good skills can be the best option, if you can get them. But if you do have enough work to keep them busy, they’re still likely to get to points where they’re overwhelmed and need outside help in order to keep up with demand.
You have an advantage because you can work with the smaller consulting companies that the larger vendors can’t work with. Now, you’re probably thinking that the big vendors will just subcontract to us. That’s not entirely true.
Here’s something most customers don’t know: we don’t pay our insurance and other fees per project. Whether I have a host of smaller projects or merely one large one, my insurance and other costs don’t change. One large project is nice to get because there’s less overhead in the fact that there are fewer invoices to send out and collect, for example, but the general costs remain the same.
But you have to get out there and ask the right questions to do this.
Competing for LIMS Staff for the Middle
If you’re in the middle, I find that you’re very likely either to have the advantages of both of the above groups or of neither.
There is only one thing that you might have to your advantage and which I find many of my customers take advantage of. It’s the Purchase Order.
Sometimes, limited amounts of work can be done via a Purchase Order. If you split your work into blocks, you might be able to get it all done with several purchase orders. Each purchase order should be for one block of work. one for each block of work. It’s common that these have a “to not exceed” figure included. It is common for my own current customers or those who intend to use my services to call for help in breaking the work down for this purpose. I mean to say that, if you’re going to give someone business, this way, they’re usually accommodating in helping you. Some will charge an additional fee for this.
One more great thing about purchase orders is that most of them have the legal terms you need. They ask for the insurance you need the consultant to have. They give the payment terms you want to enforce. Learn more about this through your Purchasing and/or Legal departments. Start with Purchasing because most or all of what you need to know can come from them.
One More Tip When You’re Competing for LIMS Staff
Regardless what you plan to do, always check with your manager and/or the Purchasing Department. Do that, first.
There have been quite a few times a potential customer has called and I’ve asked if they have a preferred vendor system or other limitations and they don’t happen to know. And, since they don’t happen to know, they feel confident they can find a way around it. This is true especially if they’re told that “there’s no-one available.” But, hey, they found me, so it’s not true, correct? Well, it’s not that simple.
For those of you who have found me skeptical, you’ll find that I do spend some time trying to educate you on what to ask. I will probably spend a little time talking about your project. But I will keep that skeptical but polite tone. And, in the end, some of you will be ultimately frustrated to find that we can’t work together.
Here’s the issue – why should I take a Lot of your time when I suspect it might not work out. Granted, it’s also taking up my time. However, I do love to talk about your projects because I always find that interesting. Really, it’s just the old project management skill of “expectations management.” Why shouldn’t I manage your expectations to try to alleviate the final frustration if you end up in that situation, is how I look at it.
GeoMetrick Enterprises Would Love Your Business if You’re Competing for LIMS Staff
Truly, I would love to work with all of you. But when you come down to it, it’s not that easy. You don’t just pick a resource based on their skills and just insisting they belong on one project or another. If they’re not coming from the right preferred vendor, they might not be an option.
And to those who have come up with the idea that I could come and be an employee for a few months, go back to what I said, above. Insurance and other business costs aren’t project-based. They don’t go away just because one customer needs a short-term employee. However, I sincerely appreciate the idea that you’re thinking outside the box and want me around that badly.