ECS for Laboratories: Managing Your Content Supports Your Mission
Every day, commercial and government research labs explore the potential of new discoveries and technologies to benefit our society. To accomplish this important work, their research results need to be secure and they need to run an efficient organization to focus as many resources as possible on the efforts that can lead to important discoveries. And, with days full of data gathering, managing the content and the processes to share the research can be difficult and slow in a paper-based world.
As a lab, you might think that the challenge is finding new discoveries or the complexities of studying important areas of our world. Those are real challenges, but what about the difficulties of running your lab in a paper-based world?
Your Challenges Aren’t Just Discovery or Science
Files, reports, photos, videos, correspondence, contracts, grant agreements, invoices, calibration reports, chain of custody information and more. This is the content that any organization creates, stores and consults. In the case of your lab, this isn’t just files, it includes the records of your scientific work, proof of contract deliverables, grant-supported activities and vital documentation for litigation. Your source data and results are likely digital but we still operate in a world of paper especially when dealing with external contractors, law enforcement, grant sources, etc.
Consider these challenges of the paper-based world:
Securing Your Research Results – there are many possible scenarios from unauthorized access to lost files, offsite storage retrieval to files on desks. Balancing high availability of results with the need to secure access to results and track this access is difficult in a paper-based world.
Focusing Your Resources on Your Mission – access issues are important, but the cost of creating, managing, storing and destroying paper
consume resources that your lab might need to put to the real work of the lab. These resources include staff time and the cost of paper, both represent dollars diverted from other uses. Paper may be familiar, but it has costs that you might not want to assume. So, activities in accounting, human resources, credentialing, training and certifications are essential to support your lab, but they create additional costs and workload when they are documented and managed with paper.
Fulfilling Requests and Obligations – if you receive grants or take on work under contract agreements, critical content isn’t just the results of research, it is also supporting documentation that accompanies funding requests, demonstrates compliance with the terms of agreements and acts as an overall audit trail for your organization. Trusting this supporting documentation to paper means risking loss of work product and financial records and failure to find or produce documents and files can affect your ability to get reimbursed for work performed or to access grant funding that supports your work. Similarly, if you have business processes that go to the heart of your
mission, tasks like producing litigation packets, working in a paper-based world means your staff needs more time and efforts to produce deliverables. Here’s one lab’s experience in that area.
Managing Your Content Supports Your Mission
Your peers are grappling with the same challenges. Increasingly, they are turning to enterprise content management (ECS) to answer these challenges. ECS offers tools that are uniquely positioned to addresses the challenges generated by paper files and processes. Here’s some of the benefits that support their investments in ECS as a core technology platform:
Secure access to your research – digitizing your paper files means better control. Version control, encryption at rest and in transit, user authentication and control all help you comply with regulation and guarantee that your research findings are secure.
Fast retrieval of information – digitized content is easy to search with keywords, full text, document type and more. This represents crucial time savings when staff need to find information or aggregate content for deliverables like litigation packets.
Drive faster and cheaper processes with automation – once you eliminate paper, automated processes can ensure that your busy lab completes work faster. Electronic notification and routing eliminates hand-delivered paperwork, freeing staff time while ensuring that staff are aware of work in a timely manner. Without paper, any process from litigation packet requests to contract management and more is transparent, with the potential of reporting dashboards for managers that help you stay on top of deliverables and other tasks.
Adopting ECS has produced dramatic and measurable results for research labs. As you consider your next technology investment, ECS is a technology that closely aligns with your needs and challenges and is delivering benefits to your peers. That’s why managing your content is one of the smartest things you can do to support you lab’s mission and operations.