Choosing the right laboratory efficiency partner can be a daunting task for the best leadership teams. Most agree that skills and experience delivering key performance indicators (KPIs) such as instrument downtime, productivity, capability, innovation, and quality of data are all important considerations for the final vendor decision and, later, can prove to be validation of that choice. However, for one multinational biopharmaceutical company located in California, KPI success came down to reduced complaints and smoother day-to-day operations. According to the Director of Operations Strategy, who oversaw the vendor selection process for management of multiple sites, reducing the noise of dissatisfaction resulted in a positive outcome.
According to the team leader, the choice to reboot the company’s lab asset management program was a strategic, multiyear process that resulted from the desire to increase system efficiencies and improve satisfaction among laboratory constituents. It was a deliberate choice to do things differently. This included creating an internal task force focused on improving communication and procedures, adhering to a well-defined project timeline, and choosing a partner that would deliver on expectations made during the selection process.
The following is an interview with the team leader to discuss their business process and why they selected PerkinElmer OneSource® Laboratory Asset Management team for six research and development and manufacturing sites countrywide.
- What was the situation when it was decided to rethink your Laboratory Asset Management Program (LAMP)?
"It was a strategic decision to review how we were managing LAMP. At the time, we had one primary vendor who was managing research and development (R&D) locations across the United States, including discovery and translational science facilities. PerkinElmer was managing two of our site locations as well. This two-location assignment, a test of sorts, was going well. We knew we wanted to consolidate partners and expand the scope of work to include R&D and manufacturing locations. Our main objective was to reduce the “noise” being heard in the lab – we had way fewer complaints during the stabilization phase showing positive signs for OneSource Laboratory Asset Management. There had been a need for improvement."
- How did you go about evaluating potential partners?
"We started the process by sitting down with four client groups to evaluate what was needed and rate the importance of these requests. Both pricing and service delivery were very important in our evaluation. In-person visits were also a must – we got a good sense of company culture by interviewing key people in the organizations under consideration. Our team visited companies over and over. Because OneSource had been managing laboratory assets in two of our other locations, we already were familiar with PerkinElmer’s culture and thought it was a good match to ours. In the end, culture was one of the reasons why we selected PerkinElmer as a partner. The other was trust. There must be trust for a partnership to work."
- What ultimately set companies apart during these interviews?
"We looked at a lot of performance indicators. We were interested in things like lifecycle management of equipment, work order management, which industry pricing model was used, and data management."
- Can you tell me a bit about how important data – service history, preventative maintenance and visibility of qualification records – was in your vendor selection process?
"Our former LAMP partner was struggling to hit performance metrics, so we knew we wanted a very robust way to monitor data. Some of the companies we interviewed suggested that they use existing company data systems. PerkinElmer offered its own data reporting system through a customized customer asset management portal and visualization dashboard. None of the other companies we interviewed came close to this type of data access and analytical power. We were impressed with the historical data analytics that were demonstrated with other similar OneSource customers. This was another big reason we chose PerkinElmer for our program.
(OneSource prepares customized regular (monthly, quarterly, and annually) reports that show if service levels are being met and ROI targets are being achieved. Report data typically includes 1) Detailed service metrics for all service providers with comparisons against contracted service level expectations; 2) Continuous improvement recommendations including ways to improve productivity; 3) Compliance data (where applicable) to ensure all regulatory requirements are met.)"
- It must be challenging to evaluate multiple vendors in a binary fashion. Did you find this was the case in your search?
"We were considering about six different service providers. Several of these were like PerkinElmer in that they were laboratory research equipment manufacturers as well. While our initial scope of work was for asset management, we were thinking of what we could do down the pike. It would become important to pull all the pieces together at some point and achieve economies of scale. We decided that having a scientific partner was a better long-term solution."
- Do you mean a scientific partner who understood the life science business?
"It was important to us to have a partner that could be integrated into our business as much as possible – for example, a partner that would invest in and train its people to maintain and validate equipment without relying on a third partner. Another example is workflow troubleshooting. If a process breaks down, is it the instrument or the software? Having one resource to figure it out simplifies the process and reduces downtime. In our case, we had to convince a lot of people of the merits of choosing one scientific partner over another."
- So, what made the difference in the decision to choose OneSource?
"In the end, it was people on the ground. We were very comfortable with PerkinElmer’s culture and leadership. We liked that OneSource could offer services beyond Asset Management. Their Scientific Services team could provide trained scientists to supplement our staff when needed and allow us to focus on core scientific tasks. (Scientific Services include OneSource scientists on site performing elucidation, tissue cultures, compound management, and automation from low throughput assays to high throughput screens). Instrument Concierge™ is another service that we found valuable (This includes services such as routine assays, routine instrument setup, method development, and system integration). Having OneSource service people on site as first points of contact enables quicker identification of issues and has the potential to get things fixed faster."
- It has been several months since OneSource started managing your LAMP program. What results are you seeing?
"One of the things that made a difference was how we approached the transition. We had a group running internally to manage the transition over a period of five months with clear expectations that the program would begin with everyone on board on October 1.
We had had a lot of challenges with our old program, and we were determined to get this right.
There is an excellent team from PerkinElmer managing the program both on-site and in Operations Leadership at PerkinElmer. We are very happy with our choice. So, do we still hear some feedback? Yes, but on a scale of 1 to 10 where we started at 10, we are now down to 4 – significantly less, and, well, some level of request for change is a good thing."
About OneSource Laboratory Services
OneSource Laboratory Services provides a portfolio of integrated services that enable and accelerate scientific, manufacturing, and business outcomes. Offering a single point of contact and flexible service capabilities that can be integrated, OneSource programs are built on Six Sigma and Lean Best Practices.
Besides asset management, a variety of services are available to increase laboratory productivity and cost efficiency. These include Scientific Services, Information Services, Compliance, Lab Relocation, and training and education.