Lab Manager | Run Your Lab Like a Business

Time and Money

Running out of time or money is something most of us strive to avoid. In business, as in life, the goal is to save as much of both as you can. This month we look at a few ways to achieve that goal in your lab. Let’s start with time.

by Pamela Ahlberg
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“Keeping any lab on schedule requires vigilance in time management,” says lab manager Michael Ogletree in this month’s Leadership & Staffing article, “Managing Time.” However, due to the workload ebb and flow that’s inherent in laboratory operations, this is not always easy to do. It is up to lab managers to “come up with ways to continually equalize the load and increase a lab’s efficiency using current best practices in time management,” says author Sara Goudarzi.

Speaking to another aspect of managing time, Mark Lanfear in this month’s Science Matters column, talks about ranking priorities so that the most important tasks are taken care of before the trivial ones. “We hypnotize ourselves into believing that if we can keep all the urgencies of the day at bay, we’ll be able to eventually tackle what’s really important in our lives. But what I would argue is that in any situation, if you’re managing your time effectively, you’ve been able to successfully ‘rank’ your priorities in a way in which the most important ones start to take precedence,” he says.

Now for money.

This month’s Business Management article, “Outsourcing Options,” examines the economic benefits of outsourcing certain laboratory operations. Sherri Basner, director, Intertek Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals, Americas, says “part of the compelling value proposition for companies outsourcing their in-house labs is that they have the potential to ‘get much more output at reduced cost.’” She sees the relative instability in the economic environment as a big driver of outsourcing in the future. “If you can outsource and save time and money on areas that are not core, you will do it every time.”

The business and economic advantages of another kind of outsourcing is discussed in “Managing Surplus Assets”.  “In recent years, as companies have been discovering the hidden value in idle assets found throughout their enterprises, asset management best practice has been evolving,” says author Ben Potenza.

Another potentially money-saving opportunity is discussed in this month’s Ask the Expert column, in which Ike Harper, director for laboratory innovation at Johnson & Johnson, discusses the advantages of consolidating lab services with one provider. “Cost savings can be achieved in many ways, such as consolidating the number of contracts with one vendor, reducing the options on supplies ordered, and getting volume discounts,” says Harper.

But our lead story this month has nothing to do with time or money, but something equally or more important – the safety of your lab. Please take a look at our cover story, “Safe Enough?” to find out what management steps you can take to further ensure the safety and health of your staff. “The need for a better safety culture, especially in academia but also in general industry, cannot be denied. How do we do this?” says Vince McLeod. 

Time and money are one thing, health and safety are everything.


Pamela Ahlberg

Correction: In the May issue, some of the quotes in our LIMS product focus article were misattributed. We have corrected that and the revised article can be found here.