How to Manage IT for a Science Lab
Investments in IT make up for a little more than 3 percent of corporate spending. However, how productive would scientists be if they’re twiddling thumbs as they wait for the computer hourglass to stop spinning? Instead, use these tips to turn your IT infrastructure into a valuable resource.
- Manage Budgets
Most laboratories have their methods that allow the managers to manage their department budgets. Such budgets are based on tracking spending and time. Good spreadsheet software can often help you do this where you can track each project and activity on a monthly budget.
However, the relationship between time and spending might not be linear. In most cases, you will need to bunch up spending to particular months due to milestone dates. In other cases, you might have to transfer or hire new staff members or consultants to help you achieve overall lab milestones.
New and transferred IT managers in the lab inherit budgets from their predecessors. However, the next year offers you an opportunity to work with your own team members and supervisor to develop a budget for the next financial year.
- Number Each Device
When setting up the IT for the laboratory, it’s extremely helpful to number each device. Numbering the machines gives users a sense of ownership of space and device in the lab. Also, keep a log of which devices are used by each user at any time as a means of achieving accountability.
- Use Displays
Keep interruptions while people are working in the lab to a minimum with procedures, lab rules and reference charts displayed where everyone can easily see them. A functional bulletin board will further help in managing the tech equipment in your workplace.
- Have Regular Tune-Ups
Like any other well-crafted machine, it’s critical you keep your IT infrastructure running smoothly through routine maintenance. Someone needs to regularly monitor the lab’s antivirus solutions, install software patches and manage data backups to ensure your devices are productive and secure.
Maintenance is no different from what’s required to keep your car running reliably. It’s not a wise idea to wait until the timing belt breaks before you take your vehicle in for a tune-up. The same way, you don’t have to wait for your IT infrastructure to break down before you pay attention to it.
- Have a Data Access Strategy
Data security is the law in just about all science labs, but penalties that come with non-compliance should not scare you from becoming innovative. After all, being compliant is not an expensive thing to do. For example, you can have your in-house IT super-user lock down sensitive assets or information, granting access to off-site researchers only when necessary.
Two-factor authentication (2FA) is also another security strategy that’s easy to implement. This strategy offers you an extra security layer that is often required for compliance when handling sensitive data.
- Outsource Your IT Needs
IT is more than just the lab workstation equipment and laptops. It’s best to outsource your software needs to niche experts. Consider sourcing lab specific software from niche experts instead of creating your own, for example by contacting a site to buy lab animal management software.
For best results, always partner with trusted IT services companies. Such companies should have the capacity to offer support, training and maintenance services to speed up and smooth your transition.
Even if you are not familiar with all there is to know about modern business technology; you can still turn the IT infrastructure in your lab into one of the critical assets. All you need to do is focus on what your lab and scientists need, and offer it to them.