Whether we like it or not, our beloved scientific community is getting pushed by the same productivity rules as the other disciplines. In order to be successful, researchers and pharma are expected to deliver solid, innovative and impactful research, faster than ever. Moreover, the trend of multidisciplinary research and the fast growth of the new technologies in these fields make it more and more difficult for a lab to keep up with the pace. In order to stay relevant, smaller labs often have to collaborate with other research teams to build bigger projects that are viable. But as we all know it, even with the best of intentions, bad communication between different research groups can hold back the propagation of useful results. Also, not everyone in a research collaboration has the same priority for the project. Therefore, as powerful as it is, collaboration can be hard to achieve without any drawbacks.
Escaping from bad communication that slows your progress is one of the many reasons why outsourcing could help your research project. But what are the cost-to-benefits ratio of outsourcing some or all parts of your research? What does it cost, will it be done the way you want it to be and what about the privacy/secrecy of your data? At first look, there seems to be more reasons to not outsource your work, but consider this--in September of 2016, Science, one of the industry’s most influential scientific journal, published a paper on outsourcing as being one of the next major trends in scientific research. As a service provider ourselves, we also feel that you should have a more in-depth look at the matter.
So here it is: 7 reasons why you should consider outsourcing your lab work!
Your service provider won't show you how to do your science. You know what you do, and you do it well. However, when you want to add a little extra power to your projects by doing something you are not used to, it may be a good idea to reach for some expertise. Service providers often offers highly specific know-hows and is ready to share it with their customers. Their products/services have been extensively tested and optimized so that their client get the best experience possible. Some of them also offer classes, webinars and/or documentation on their area of expertise, so that you can better understand what they plan to do with your project. They offer expert services in a timely manner, and they do it well. This means that you won't have to hire people to do that single crucial experiment for the project.
It is no secret, we all have our secrets! No one likes to share their research hypotheses or drug concepts with everyone. Being "scooped" is one of the hardest realities in science. Private companies know this better than anyone! This is why they will most likely agree to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) if need be. Your data and ideas will be protected from lurking eyes, and you will still get the analyses/services you required. The NDA will also hold for future projects with the supplier, so less time will be spent on negotiating contracts. Think about it--they hope that you will eventually come back for more services, so it's not in their interest to divulge sensitive information!
"I need this done in less than two weeks!" - Lab supervisor
Wouldn't it be great if graduate students (no offense to you guys!) could deliver fast, on-demand results? Or if you could implement a high-tech protocol in your lab with a simple snap of your fingers? If you choose to outsource an experiment or a part of your research project, you will be given an expected (or guaranteed) turnaround time. A good service provider will keep you updated on your project and will deliver a time frame that is often much faster than what you could achieve in your own lab. You will also have access to high-end instrumentation, rugged protocols and new technologies without the implementation costs associated with it!
As with anything you buy, you can expect great quality from the service provider that you outsource your lab work to. Their reputation depends on their deliverables, so you can rest assured that they will do anything they can to satisfy their customers. As with the turnaround time, numerous service providers offer guaranteed results. How many times did you perform an experiment in the lab and think to yourself, "This experiment has to work..."? Well, if you outsource it, you’re guaranteed that it will work!
There has been much debate about this, but the answer is yes, it is profitable to outsource lab work to private companies. Doing business with experts who can work discretely, fast and with guaranteed results supports the idea that such an investment is cost-effective. But there is another side to this story--your staff could work on things they know how to do instead of banging their head on a new technology/experiment. So while you outsource your experiment, you’ll also be increasing the productivity of your staff. At the end of the line, you get both your usual experiments and the little extra that will boost your research. You’ll double your results with little effort!
How many times did you think to yourself, "This paper would be really great if we could just add this one experiment"? And of course, you could not do it in your lab because of a lack of expertise/time. Well, outsourcing could be the right solution to such problem. It could let you concentrate on things that are more in line with your expertise, while experts are doing that one experiment that will add weight to your project.
Sometimes, research projects come to a premature end. Whether it is because the underlying hypothesis was proven wrong or because nothing you do seem to uncover clues, or some part of your research seemed to have reached their terminal point. This may be a good occasion to rely on outsourcing to get things moving again. Using a new technology/technique could potentially generate unexpected results, which would most likely lead the project on new
tracks. Conversely, using new technology/techniques can be a very good way to start new projects. Either way, outsourcing may be the solution to stalling science! Furthermore, never underestimate how an external look from an expert may prove useful.
There you have it--we’ve highlighted 7 reasons why we feel you should give outsourcing a try. As lab scientists ourselves, we understand the reluctance for outsourcing because we’ve had them too! But as objective as we can be, we’ve had numerous feedback from clients new to outsourcing say, "I should have done this before, I would have saved money and time!" If you're ready to see what we use to offer our services to the scientific community, have a look at some of the online marketplaces we use (hint, Science Exchange is our favorite!)
We believe that you are the master and expert of your own science. However, a partnership between your lab and a specialized service provider could help your project to move faster and at a lower cost while you focus on other important aspects of your project. So go ahead and ask yourself, "Should we outsource some part of our research?".