Lab Test Information Management: Challenges & Way Forward

In an ever more competitive landscape, Testing Laboratories need to address their challenges by focusing on the core drivers via a cohesive information management strategy.

Lab Test Information Management: Challenges

Testing Laboratories in the TIC industry have grown aggressively, both inorganically via acquisitions and organically, while simultaneously striving to maintain and grow margins. This growth model has brought with it significant, and I must say, inevitable challenges.

Some of the key challenges are listed below:

  1. Lack of standardization – Variability in core information and operational execution platform across lab locations and regions, including those driven by client specific customization.
  2. Ad-Hoc and inefficient processes – Redundant and excessive manual verification steps have been introduced at every stage throughout the operations.
  3. Ageing delivery platforms – The industry continues to rely heavily on human capital and has a lot of catching up to do in terms of technology adoption. Full automation in Lab data capture, auto report generation, B2B customer intimacy platforms are dreams that continue to elude even the most innovative, market leading service providers.
  4. Declining Margins – Given an increasingly competitive landscape and increasing input costs coupled with stagnant pricing (or even increased pricing pressures), margins are increasingly coming under pressure. This deserves to be mentioned separately as a Challenge on its own as it is one of the single most critical metric on which management performance is measured today.
  5. Revenue Leakage – This is a direct and inevitable result of lack of traceability in lab information management, all the way from the Test Request Form (TRF) being submitted to the corresponding invoice being issued. Labs all over the world end up under-invoicing. While the percentage loss in revenue varies from lab to lab, it does happen in every lab nevertheless.
  6. Impatient, Unhappy Customers – Let’s not forget the customer in all this. Customers want faster time to market and are unhappy with the Turn Around Time (TAT) delays they face from the TIC service provider. The list of impediments are long – rework due to lab reporting errors, invoicing mistakes (they will all complain if labs over-invoice!), the lack of reliable business intelligence, etc.

Lab Test Information Management: Way forward

Focus on the drivers!

  • Gain Competitive Advantage – Do you believe you are in this business just to provide a test report? If not, how will you differentiate?
  • Retain & Grow – Customers no longer want just a test report, even if you can manage to send an accurate report within the committed TAT. How will you ensure customer retention? How will you delight your customers continually?
  • Improve Margins – It is difficult to maintain high margins while simultaneously aiming for higher growth, especially if organizations continue using human capital-intensive processes and systems. What are the operational objectives? In which areas will you be able to drive efficiency and improve cost competitiveness?

Align your objectives to the drivers

What
How
Why
Ensure Customer Delight a. Improve consistency and granularity of reporting data by adopting a robust universal master data management (MDM) system that permeates across all operational transaction management and reporting systems.

b. Accelerate Turn Around Time (TAT) by promptly responding to regulatory or customer requested changes to test protocols and packages. This is a lot easier to achieve once you have a workflow based, global test, protocol/package management system such as the TRIMS in place.

c. Automate test data capture, reporting and invoicing.

d. Deliver real time operational information and rich business intelligence reporting through a smart customer portal. Once again, this cannot be achieved if you don’t have the basis to efficiently manage rich referential data.

– Differentiate

– Retain & Grow

Improve Scalability a. Implement best practice processes to improve operational governance across the network.

b. Adopt a scalable technology platform to handle simple to complex change management requests, quickly and accurately, impacting a large and ever increasing number of test protocols and packages.

– Differentiate

– Retain & Grow

– Improve Margins

Improve efficiency and lower risk a. Single source of truth for your test protocols and packages – eliminate reliance on stand alone, document/paper based test protocols and with it the risk of non-compliance with current regulatory and customer requirements.

b. Drastically reduce errors in test assignment, data capture and reporting, thereby minimizing rework.

c. Save paper and printing costs. This is not just about being socially responsible – it is pure margin, very much part of the current Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) – this cost will go away with adoption of the new test protocol and package management platform.

– Improve Margins

Let us know what you think – leave a comment below.

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