3 Reasons A HappiLabs Virtual Lab Manager is quicker than the average Lab Manager

It is our intention to put a lot more importance on a very undervalued position.

The lab manager.

It shouldn’t be a position mixing operations with too much science. A lab manager needs to focus on operations, and if they are doing experiments too, your lab is going to be less efficient than the ones using a Virtual Lab Manager to support the people focused on science.

A good lab manager should be extremely proficient with a computer and apps. They will be receiving many emails, toggling through supplier websites, and communicating with everyone in the lab.

There are many reasons why a HappiLabs VLM is more efficient, but here are 3 reasons that have to do with technology:

Keyboard training

quick_keyboard_skills

 

We put our Virtual Lab Managers through training to become masters of a keyboard.

We estimate this saves a VLM at least 15 minute per day, simply by using  (Command + Tab) or (Command + ~), etc. We can scroll through windows, tabs, and programs at lightning speed.

Copy, paste, scroll to the top, scroll to the bottom, undo, redo, and on and on. We aim to compete with a software developer’s mastery of a keyboard.

Remembering passwords

Logging in and out of supplier websites has never been easier, or more secure with password saving apps. Passwords don’t need to be retrieved from Excel or physical paper every time we order through Quartzy, Sigma, NEB, etc. They are automatically known. This saves 10-25 minutes per day for a busy lab.

Raudel_Sandoval_Happy_Virtual_Lab_Manager

Using multiple monitors

Every VLM has at least two monitors. One for monitoring communication (email, gchat, Slack, etc.), and the other is for other activity (googling, shopping online, analyzing quotes, etc.). By keeping a constant eye on communication, a VLM will respond quicker to all your scientists’ needs.

And a small shoutout to Moom. When analyzing multiple windows of data or comparing several quotes, resizing windows so you can see them all on one page is fast…HappiLabs fast.

 

THANK YOU FOR READING

The Scientist Purchasing Cycle – Time Lost from Science

In your lab, who is responsible for negotiating prices, placing orders, following up on them, and tracking receipts for proper accounting?

If you answer “the scientists”, your lab is in a lot of trouble. For people who are not trained to manage money, negotiate, and understand accounting…does this make sense? No. And your lab is losing time (and boatloads of money) over it.

Welcome to the future! Where the purchasing role of the lab, and most lab manager duties, are available for outsourcing, allowing scientists to spend more time on science–what they are trained to do.

happy scientist at happilabs virtual lab manager purchasing

 

How to use a HappiLabs Virtual Lab Manager

Some feedback we’ve received recently was about new hires in the lab we work for. Scientists new to HappiLabs do not always know how to use their Virtual Lab Manager. Everyone knows us as the purchaser (“Hey HappiLabs, can you order more gloves?”), but don’t know our other features.

Therefore, let us clarify 4 things you can use us for. Our main goal is to absorb as many 5-20 minute tasks as possible for scientists. We staff PhDs who have been in the lab, understand the language, and have empathy for the difficulty of your job. Therefore, we want to help you, and it’s in our mission.

Product research

Purchasing and Customer Service ScientistDo you find yourself googling or scanning supplier websites for pricing info, specs, availability, or features of products? Leave that to us. Don’t waste 20 minutes on the phone with tech support. Ask us to help. You can have that time to get back in the lab or in your office analyzing data.

Sample questions to ask your Virtual Lab Manager:

  • Can you find out what the limit is for centrifuging Greiner 96-well flat bottom plates?
  • Can you look into fridge shelving options for these microcentrifuge tube racks?
  • Can you find a phosphoric acid source that sells by molarity (instead of volume)?
  • Can you help me find a distributor for this glass/metal adhesive?

Getting quotes or pricing information

There are so many sales reps trying to win your business, it can be a distraction. They will all tell you they have the best price or offer a “deep discount,” but who do you believe? HappiLabs shops for a lot of companies/labs, therefore we know what a fair price is, and have internal knowledge about what works and if there are quality control issues with any brands.

When it comes time to finding the price of an item, let us take care of that.

This ties into budgeting. If you have to budget an experiment or equipment purchase to get approval from a manager, tell us what you want, and we’ll price it out for you.

Calling customer service

Never worry about calling 1-800…Your virtual lab manager will do it. Whether you want to follow up on an order, return an item, or complain about a product (Did you order something and it’s broken?), we will do this for you.

Ultimately, a scientist working with HappiLabs should rarely have to interact with suppliers (customer service, sales reps, and tech support).

The Value of a Virtual Lab Manager

Raudel_Sandoval_Happy_Virtual_Lab_Manager

This post will show how a HappiLabs Virtual Lab Manager brings value to any lab in the world, especially a biotech startup. We perform all sorts of tasks to help scientists, but we specialize in purchasing lab supplies and equipment. HappiLabs provides clear savings to labs both in terms of time and money.

We evaluate time savings just as much, if not more, than financial savings. At regular lab meetings, our team of Virtual Lab Managers dissects the purchasing process in an effort to constantly improve and keep our labs running as efficiently as possible.

To supplement our studious efforts, we utilize cutting edge hardware and software.

If your company needs help creating a purchasing department, we can help. Let’s discuss the full purchasing cycle and the time associated.

It’s not as simple as “I need something. Order it. It arrives in 2 days.” There’s a lot more behind the scenes work that goes into ordering, which academics take for granted with help from their department or university purchasing systems. The entire purchasing cycle takes place in seven steps over the course of a few days to weeks.

Purchasing Flow Chart

Remember, in the world of startup biotech, you’re on your own.

1) Identifying supplies to buy

This involves Google, incoherent supplier websites, and phone calls to tech support and sales reps when buying something new. Sometimes our customers do this themselves, sometimes they send the research to their Virtual Lab Manager.

“Hi Raudel, I’m looking for options for DNA extraction kits. Can you find me a couple and their price per extraction?”

This saves 15-60 minutes per request for scientists.

2) Finding fair pricing

Our scientists don’t bother with this and trust HappiLabs will find a supplier with fair pricing. Keep in mind, it’s not always about price. We evaluate the whole value of a product and the supplier selling it (such as customer service, speed of shipping, and communication).

If scientists do this themselves, they’d be on the phone trying to get quotes from suppliers or googling. But their job is science and this is another 30 minutes that can be spent in the lab. That’s why they hire us.

Additionally, HappiLabs has relationships with suppliers so communication is quicker and we can leverage our purchasing power for even more cost savings.

3) Placing orders

This is not always as easy as logging in, click…click….click…done. Sometimes it’s a 5-15 minute phone call as you check stock and availability, double check pricing, and provide your payment info. The simplest order will still take at least 8 minutes online. Go ahead, time yourself. Scientists shouldn’t waste time doing this.

4) Receiving an order confirmation

What? Yeah, the most underrated step. It should not be taken for granted. Just because you called in an order or placed it online, DO NOT assume the order is being processed.

Most scientific suppliers are not as awesome as Amazon, and mistakes happen. Make sure you get a confirmation # otherwise you might be waiting and waiting and waiting for an order that was never processed.

5) Tracking shipping estimates

More important than you know, especially with the big suppliers. DO NOT trust their online estimates. Always call, and even so, believe no one until you have a Fedex or UPS tracking #. HappiLabs keeps scientists on schedule by staying on top of ETAs so experiments can be planned accordingly.

There are no surprise backorders with a Virtual Lab Manager. We spend about 4-8 minutes per order assuring this.

6) Receiving an order

Making sure the shipment gets to the right person is one of the most amusing moments of the purchasing cycle, and often the most difficult. HappiLabs has their secret as to how this happens and packages are rarely lost, especially at incubators like QB3@953, where there are 41 companies receiving packages.

7) Filing the invoice for accounting

It takes about 8-12 minutes per order and crucial for keeping the accountant happy. We work with and intergrate our workflow with many types of accounting softwares or systems.

Tracking down an invoice isn’t always simple. Some suppliers automatically email you, but many don’t, and then there’s the occasional mischarge that only gets caught if someone is monitoring invoices. We always do. There are two unintentional, sneaky ways suppliers make extra money from companies not monitoring invoices:

  • You’ve applied a promo code during the checkout process, but the order doesn’t get invoiced with the discount.
  • You were told “free” shipping, but were charged a “Handling” or “Fuel Surcharge” fee.

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In the long run, a Virtual Lab Manager moves faster and makes fewer mistakes than most lab managers, and especially if someone is doing this job who wears five different hats.

Think about it….an expert, with one hat, sitting at a computer with a load of resources and tools behind them — who do you think will do the job better?

Meet our Virtual Lab Managers.

(NOTE: this post was originally published on the Perlstein Lab blog. We’ve made edits to generalize it.)

Meet the newest Virtual Lab Manager: Liz Sacho, PhD

Virtual Lab Manager

Liz has a PhD in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and many years experience in biochemistry, biophysics, and molecular biology.  Her research career focused on DNA repair and utilized a variety of bulk and single molecule assays.

She is a strong advocate for science outreach and education, and enjoys serving as a local science fair judge. Liz is looking forward to letting you focus on your science. She’ll be handling order requests, product research, and supplier relations for your lab.

Fun Facts about Liz:
  • Lover of carbonated water
  • Avid knitter
  • Roller derby skater & coach

She can also be found on Twitter at @ejsacho.