The Value of a Developer with Industry-Specific Experience
Traditionally a company will hire a developer, externally or internally, to build bespoke applications. This developer will usually be very experienced in one or more technologies and may have an IT degree behind him or her.
But how often will a company hire a developer with experience in the company's own field?
Let's look at two real (but anonymised) scenarios where laboratory companies have hired programmers to build their respective next generation LIMS softwares:
Company A has a well established, but ageing platform which successfully services staff and clients. The platform is not well liked by staff and has required maintenance and fixes over its long life. Company A’s LIMS is serviced by a small department of IT support staff and developers, all of which have been hired specifically for their IT skills. This same department has been enlisted to produce a replacement LIMS under the direction of a committee of laboratory managers and stakeholders.
Company B also has an ageing platform which it is looking to replace. As the previous system has been problematic and the in-house staff responsible have moved on, Company B looks to hire a new developer. As a smaller operation, this business is lucky to find an experienced developer who is degree qualified as an analytical chemist. The chemist is asked to develop a new LIMS on a contractual basis.
Meanwhile, Company A’s IT department has spent more than 12 months detailing requirements for their new LIMS. This has involved significant discussion and explanation as the computer science background developers seek to understand test methods, uncertainties, limits of detection, units, reporting, data types, retests, calculations, laboratory-specific quality requirements, sample tracking and more. The management committee has become frustrated that little visible progress has been made.
Let’s take a look back at Company B, where the chemist/developer has spent a fortnight consulting on-site with the laboratory managers and staff about specific processes within their business. Ideas have been raised and discussed, with good communication and understanding between all parties. The chemist/developer has spent time reviewing the exisiting LIMS to understand how staff interact with it and what the problems are. The chemist/developer has continued to design a database and concept screens which are considered by the lab managers and staff. A constant stream of communication regarding only business-specific needs has been underway.
A further 18 months later at Company A, the IT department have developed a working concept of their LIMS and have had it tested by laboratory staff. Although the concept is visually more appealing than the existing platform, it has been widely criticised for being overly complex while missing crucial features and data. Some managers have called for a complete redesign. The knowledge disconnect between laboratory chemists and the IT department is now costing Company A both in direct financial terms and in client dissatisfaction. With no implementation date likely in the next 12 months, Company A is faced with further hits to the budget before value is realised from the project.
In contrast, Company B have been running their new LIMS for over 12 months, after an initial development period of only 8 months. The new software is user-focussed and well suited to the laboratory. Many time-saving and user-friendly features have been included, despite not appearing in any initial design requirements. The value of the developer’s chemistry qualifications and previous laboratory experienced has been realised with the short development period and the solution’s suitability and capability. Clients are impressed with the improvement to reports which are of a higher quality and professional nature than those of competitors.
The value of a developer with industry-specific experience and understanding cannot be overstated. Company B’s solution has provided user-friendliness and rapid return-on-investment due to the background knowledge and relevant experience of the developer.
Clevr builds innovative custom software for analytical laboratories. Clevr’s solutions are superior and implemented faster because they are built by an experienced analytical chemist.