Last month we provided important and practical information about project management techniques and their usefulness in laboratory management. This month we turn our attention to a different management challenge that becomes more commonplace every day in every industry—global management. As Key Kidder writes in this month’s cover story, “Conventional [management] strategies that worked well enough when collaborators were down the hallway lose their efficacy in this greater global arrangement.” And, according to Dr. Nicholas Steneck, director of the Research Ethics and Integrity Program of the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research, “Training in the U.S. tends to focus heavily on the content and method of the science, not on how to manage a project responsibly.” But fear not; the article goes on to provide a comprehensive checklist of what to do and not to do when managing the cultural, national, and communication issues that come with global collaborations. Something clearly worth the effort, as Alan Edwards reiterates in his Science Matters column this month: “Largely because of the vast amount of knowledge sharing that has occurred as a result of the Internet and cross-collaboration, life sciences companies both large and small quite frankly would be limiting themselves if they didn’t explore how partnering with people around the globe could add value to their projects and, ultimately, their businesses.”
Introduced last month with an article on cloud computing, our new editorial section, “Computing & Automation” this month covers the topic of Enterprise Resource Planning. While ERP systems traditionally focus on the administrative and managerial functions needed to run businesses, they have begun to find application within research organizations. “The utility of ERP systems in the laboratory may be facilitated or even enhanced when they are integrated with laboratory information management systems (LIMSs) in a way that harmonizes the lab’s internal and external business processes,” says author Bernard Tulsi. However, challenges remain, particularly in terms of quality, security, and compatibility of systems.
“Field instruments have been around for decades, but advances in computing and electronics miniaturization have spawned a new generation of instruments that are more approachable, smaller, and lower in cost,” says Angelo DePalma in this month’s Technology & Operations article, “Field-Worthy Instrumentation.” While not appropriate for every lab, this burgeoning technology now allows Raman and XRF spectrometers, quadrupole MS and GC-MS systems, and FTIR gas analyzers out of the lab and into the field. The article discusses the breakthroughs behind these ever-smaller devices, new applications, and their various strengths and weaknesses.
In September 2012, the Institute for Laboratory Automation and Lab Manager will offer a series of webinars under the heading “Lab Automation Is Inevitable: Are You Ready?” as part of the Lab Automation University program.
And, if you’re in the market for an ultrapure water purification system, check out this month’s Ask the Expert column where, with the help of two different experts, you can get good information on what to consider when making this important purchase.