Top 3 Lab Manager Complaints and How Recent Software Developments Can Help


The complaints of the lab manager can provide valuable insight when it comes to a lab’s software needs. Image credit: Flickr user SparkFun Electronics

When you think about investing in new lab software, your mind probably jumps to the latest advance that supports as specific method in life science or materials science research. However, if you want to maximize the value of your software investment, be sure to consider the input of your lab manager before turning to to the pages of the trendiest journal. More than any other member of the lab team, lab managers focus on the everyday logistics of the lab: finances, supplies, organization and efficiency. As a result, the lab manager can shed important insight on aspects of lab operations that are increasing costs and contributing to inefficiency.

The most common complaints of lab managers today are based on legitimate concerns about logistical issues getting in the way of research advances. Thus, choosing reliable, broadly applicable software solutions that address the concerns of lab managers can give your lab a competitive edge. Consider the top three complaints of lab managers today:

Complaint 1: Poor communication about chemical ordering needs.

There are few sentences that lab managers dread hearing more than those that start with, “Hey, didn’t we get any more of the…?” When researchers are part of the way through an experiment before realizing that a reagent is out of stock, they will lose valuable time and may have to throw out previous work. That can be frustrating for lab managers who are constantly under pressure to keep reagent budgets in check. It also presents the lab manager with the challenge of figuring out why the required reagent ran out in the first place: Was it accidentally excluded from an order? Has the lab started using more for new experiments? Was there a missed notification from a researcher when the supply got low? And, most importantly, how can the scenario be prevented in the future?

Today, the best answer to this question is to start using chemical management software. This recent software development makes it far easier for lab managers to keep track of reagent stocks, which makes it possible to avoid unexpected out-of-stocks and unnecessarily expensive over-ordering. By striking this balance, the lab manager can keep the lab’s budget under control without having to worry about unexpected out-of-stocks.

Complaint 2: Improper waste disposal practices.

When disposing of solid and liquid waste after an experiment, many researchers automatically defer to hazardous waste disposal, assuming that it is better to be safe than sorry. Of course, when it comes to lab safety, it is always better to err on the side of caution. But sometimes researchers fall into the habit of disposing of everything as hazardous waste, which can be frustrating to lab managers, given the high costs of hazardous waste disposal.

However, today’s chemical management software makes it much easier for researchers to access reagent safety information.  By making hazard information readily available, this software ensures that researchers will rarely find themselves guessing about whether or not hazardous waste disposal is required. As a result, they will never develop the expensive habit of disposing of everything in the hazardous waste container.  

Complaint 3: Benchtop clutter.

Lab managers value organization and efficiency, so a cluttered benchtop is another common topic of concern. Scattered notes, mysteriously unlabeled beakers, and piles of printouts can all lead to costly mistakes that are frustrating for lab managers who have their eye on the lab’s budget. When the lab relies on paper-based data tracking and note-taking, it is easy for researchers to lose valuable work on cluttered benchtops. And when beakers of reagents are left forgotten for hours on end, there is a good chance that they will ultimately get thrown away without producing any value for the lab.

Chemical management software can make it easier for lab managers to track reagents, so they know when to go looking for in-stock reagents that have been moved off the shelf. At the same time, the latest electronic laboratory notebook technology can make paper clutter on the benchtop a thing of the past. And with clean benchtops, there is a much lower likelihood that beakers and jars will go unnoticed.

If you’re looking to boost the productivity of your lab with recent software developments, relying on the insight of the lab manager can help you choose a solution that improves lab efficiency. Chemical management software and electronic lab notebooks can effectively address the issues that frustrate lab managers every day. BIOVIA CISPro and ELNs are cutting-edge software solutions that can streamline operations in your lab. Contact us today for more information about these products!