Defining excellence in commercial LabOps and how to get there
Behind every historic “eureka moment” (and garden variety success) is a dedicated team of operations specialists who support and enable scientific innovation. From training new staff and ordering supplies to recordkeeping and maintaining equipment – the scientific process would not be possible without the vital support from key team members. These “LabOps” professionals are uniquely focused on the combination of laboratory management and operations management.
What’s the difference between lab managers and LabOps professionals?
Lab management is an essential part of scientific operations largely involved with managing time and resources in the lab. Lab managers usually oversee daily operations in the lab and are responsible for most physical aspects of the lab (i.e. personnel and equipment).
LabOps takes lab management to the next level by incorporating technology and advanced management philosophies to not only manage but optimize operations within the lab. Whereas lab management aims at maintaining equipment so that it functions properly (often at the sacrifice of time and cost), LabOps aims at proactively evaluating the entire laboratory environment to ensure that teams, processes, and equipment are not only functioning properly, leveraged efficiently, and disrupted rarely.
What spurred the emergence of LabOps?
We all know about the industrial revolution, which truly transformed the world during the late nineteenth century into the early twentieth century. Along with the transition to coal and steam power and the invention of gas lighting came the rise of modern science. Fast forward to our current technological era of Industry 4.0 and we are now building interconnected scientific systems leveraging the internet of things (IoT) and automation. For the scientific industry, this means not only more experimental data but more data coming from the lab environment itself. By better understanding and controlling lab conditions, scientists and operations teams can improve the reproducibility and reliability of experimental results and accelerate the scientific discovery process. Importantly, these gained efficiencies will also lead to a maximized return on investment of expensive scientific endeavors.
The basic principle of LabOps is to push the boundaries of scientific discovery and technology to drive innovation and the lab of the future. But how can LabOps specifically support the lab of the future?
LabOps Excellence Maturity Model
The LabOps Excellence Maturity Model is a framework designed to help LabOps professionals improve proficiency within each of the six pillars of LabOps. A lower maturity level equates to a low proficiency level in that pillar, with an ascending scale toward higher maturity and optimal proficiency. The six pillars of LabOps are:
- Asset Management - A systematic approach to the governance and realization of value from the lab equipment that LabOps teams are responsible for, over their whole life cycles
- Safety & Compliance - Adherence to and training on the numerous local, state, and federal regulations specific to laboratories including, biological safety, hazardous materials, etc.
- Operational Data Management - Management of all lab-related data (outside of experimental data) from creation, storage, security, and integration with other systems
- Logistics & Procurement - Sourcing and management of materials needed to run lab experiments
- Team Management - An organization’s ability to lead a group of people in accomplishing a task or common goal (at the single lab, department, and organizational level)
- Sustainability - Best practices to reduce energy consumption and waste in the laboratory environment
The maturity model details 5 stages of LabOps Excellence and encompasses the teams and processes that govern LabOps. These range from the initial stages that are irregular, inconsistent, and chaotic to the optimized stage where teams and processes are continually improving and adapting.
Elemental Machines is proud to now offer the LabOps Excellence Maturity Self-Assessment as a comprehensive tool, detailing the competency level for core practices within each LabOps pillar. The results of the assessment will provide LabOps professionals with a complete LabOps Excellence score that can be used to help teams get to the next maturity level.
Interested in learning where your LabOps stand?
Want to help define this model and shape the future of LabOps?
It is an exciting time for the scientific community, as we witness the LabOps revolution unfold before our eyes. Elemental Machines looks forward to being a part of that journey and helping LabOps teams supercharge their transformations toward the lab of the future.
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