In 2016, I had the privilege of consulting with about a dozen major financial services organizations from Toronto to Charlotte, and it became evident that there is a strong need for these highly regulated businesses to adopt an increasing amount of new technology.
Security is the number one driver of new technology adoption (I know, a real shock, right?). Not at all coincidental given my specific line of work, I’ve found that certification labs are under mounting pressure to move work through their organizations more quickly all the time.
When considering the value chain of new technology adoption, there are many individual segments ranging from, “We’re going to look at this new technology” to “We’re ready to apply this new technology to our production network.” Although the certification lab is only one such segment, there are varying degrees of bottlenecks from beginning to end and I gather that the lab’s build-up of work in progress is the most painful and critical issue to solve.
The major problems that I’m hearing from my customers are:
- Excessive time required to build production replica test beds
- Conflict over equipment in use, long waits for access to lab equipment, or inadvertent test termination cause by human error
- Manual testing workflows requiring constant human engagement and oversite
- Limited to zero visibility into lab equipment utilization, or individual testing work metrics (tests executed per individual)
If solved, all of these areas could have a tremendous impact to increase speed and agility in the lab. The real crux of the situation for most labs involves budget constraints. Traditionally, the certification lab is a cost center tasked to perform a whole lot of work with limited resources. Very simply, cash is hard to come by. When dollars do become available, justifying a major investment in a transformative solution is more difficult for what is considered a cost center in the mind of the business. That’s why so many labs revert to the tired (yes, that’s not a typo—I said tired) and true solution of building a new rack or two to accommodate demand.
For the managers, directors and VPs that are in agreement that the more equals more approach is tired and no longer true, the willingness of the enterprise to introduce innovative solutions into the lab becomes easy, and dollars are freed up. And the good news for these organizations is that the solutions to all of their problems are fairly mature and have been vetted by the market. All that is required is money, energy and time to evaluate and adopt the best solution for their specific requirements. Significant ROI can be realized in as little as six to 12 months.
What I am advising organizations to do when requesting a budget increase is to carefully examine what short-term wins will grab the attention of executives and help free up dollars for lab innovation. In other words, solve one problem with a manageable investment in order to justify (or even fund) solving the next or all of the problems they face for increasing work requirements and demands from the business. In this way, they can chip away at major innovation incrementally, one quarter or budget cycle at a time.
So if you’re eager to innovate in your lab, and budget and resource constraints are holding you back, consider solving your problems incrementally. And, if you want to solve them all with a single solution, they are out there (and you might not have to look too much farther than this blog post in your search).
When consulting, I guide my customers toward the solutions that make the most sense given their unique situations. The most dynamic approach to create a short win and freeing up budget for the future is providing business intelligence and visibility where there is currently limited to zero visibility into lab equipment utilization, or individual testing work metrics (problem statement #4 above).
If you can baseline performance with reliable and easy-to-consume metrics, and prove in the light of day that more equipment to meet demand is not the answer, you’ve just opened to door to justifying a major round of funding.