Considering the implementation of a centralized data management system

Issues to bear in mind when investing in sustainable infrastructure

What is the core element to your business strategy? Typically, not data management. Data or information may well be your most valuable asset but managing and controlling it shouldn’t be a major activity. If you spend more time handling or searching for data than using it then you may already recognize that the time has come to implement a more efficient, sustainable infrastructure that will free up the creativity and productivity of your team. But what’s the best way to proceed?

Here we look some common issues that merit careful consideration when it comes to a new centralized data management system.

Cost - justify your investment.

Resisting the pressure to implement low-cost, short-term solutions is essential when it comes to upgrading data management infrastructure. A modern cloud-based platform can integrate many information flows including experimental details and results, project management workflow, biological and chemical inventory. And not just within your own company, with collaborators too. So, begin from a different viewpoint, with a vision of what day-to-day operation might look like with such systems in place. This will highlight the costs of current inefficiencies.

For example, that experiment that was conducted 6 months ago - do you know who instigated it and why? What the results were and whether there was any follow up on that odd datapoint? If that information has been lost, then so has the cost of that work. Alternatively, consider your email exchanges with CRO partners. What happens to those emails? If there are technical discussions are they separately captured? Or do you find yourself searching back to interpret spreadsheet results? Think carefully about where time and information are routinely lost to develop a realistic view of what the payback might be, with the right system.

Set this potential for savings against the total cost of ownership of a new centralized data management system, not just the initial investment. Does a candidate solution:

  •         Need dedicated hardware
  •         Come with service support
  •         Include regular upgrades and training
  •         Offer scalability – is it easy to expand and add capabilities as you grow or change?

Most of all consider data security and project implementation time since problems in either of these areas can result in economic penalties that dwarf all others.

Security – data integrity within a regulated environment

For those working in the heavily regulated pharmaceutical/healthcare industries, easy access naturally brings concerns around data integrity, data security, and regulatory control. Those leading the way in cloud-based centralized data management have addressed these issues. Look for systems that:

  •         Address data security protections at the field rather than the record level to provide an extra layer of confidence in collaborative projects
  •         Allow users to run proprietary algorithms while still interfacing with the cloud solution
  •         Offer the flexibility to, for example, create new forms using in-house tools
  •         Enable the supplementary layering of third-party platforms to manage regulatory compliance.

Such features help users to separate the regulatory elements of data management from the technological aspects of data collection, storage, interrogation, and analysis and ensure that data security standards meet company requirements.

Time – minimize disruption, maintain productivity

Standard deployments of a cloud-based management system can take up to nine months, but it doesn’t need to take this long. Deployment of our system is usually complete within days indeed it is often referred to as Instant ELN (Electronic Laboratory Notebook).

Transition periods are disruptive and hard to manage, especially if implementation calls for additional headcount. A longer project means:

  •         A significant period of ongoing change and low productivity for your staff
  •         Increased risk of errors
  •         More time and energy sapped by non-core activity

Implementing a new centralized data management system isn’t like starting over. All your old data should be migrated seamlessly, and you should expect an efficient, functioning solution that starts delivering a return from the ‘get go’. A company with a track record of delivering to these standards is a reassuring place to start your search.

Find out more about cloud-based solutions that are flexible, futureproof, easy-to-implement and economically accessible and begin your transition to a smarter data management solution that matches your company’s long-term aspirations.

This blog is an excerpt from an article published by Scientific Computing World