In a high-tech, ever evolving business, IT needs to be at the forefront of the process. The laboratory, an area driven by data needs, requires the expertise of information system analysts. Thus, it is important for lab professionals to recognize the value of IT departments and turn to them for help. However, one of the biggest challenges that technology-related projects invariably face is the battle between IT and “the Lab”.
While lab managers don’t need to become IT experts, there are simple steps they can take to better prepare for future technological changes in the lab. First and foremost, lab professionals need to embrace change and be open to using new technology. Secondly, lab managers must be proactive by bringing in Information Technology staff as early as possible during the planning process for technology-related projects. This can be accomplished by inviting IT to initial project meetings and encouraging active discussion among all stakeholders. Furthermore, it is imperative for lab managers to be aware of how and when to contact IT about technology-related issues.
Clear and frequent communication is critical to every technology-related project’s success. Key to the success of IT-related projects is for lab managers to clearly outline their business needs and requirements to Information Technology staff by establishing clear KPI and areas that are most important to the laboratory and communicating that to the IT department. One of the biggest pitfalls is to assume the Information Technology department has a deep understanding of the culture and values within a laboratory. These communication disconnects are common between IT and lab personnel to the point where the two camps can be having a conversation, yet neither party actually understands what the other is talking about.
Utilizing resources that understand both the languages as facilitators and translators is the best way to overcome these communications challenges.
Communications with Information Technology staff should not start and stop with the planning and implementation of projects; these relationships need to be cultivated over time. Allowing IT personnel to feel like a legitimate part of the lab gives them an even greater sense of purpose—that they are helping us do research. They gain more skills in being able to troubleshoot not only the computers but also the equipment connected to them and to communicate with the lab personnel that depend upon the equipment.