Five Ways to Improve Your Research Outcomes

Five Ways to Improve Your Research Outcomes

If You’re Not Doing These Five Things to Improve Research Outcomes, Start Now

Effective research and development programs are still one of the most significant investments of any biopharma. In fact, Seed Scientific estimates that the current global scientific research market is worth $76 billion, including $33.44 billion in the United States alone. Despite the incredible advancements in technology now aiding scientific discovery, it’s still difficult for many organizations to effectively bridge the gap between the business and IT, and fully leverage innovation to drive the most value out of their R&D product. 

If you’re in charge of your organization’s R&D IT efforts, following tried and true best practices may help. Start with these five strategies to help the business you’re supporting drive better research outcomes.

 

Tip #1: Practice Active Listening

Instead of jumping to a response when presented with a business challenge, start by listening to research teams and other stakeholders and learning more about their experiences and needs. The process of active listening, which involves asking questions to create a more comprehensive understanding of the issue at hand, can lead to new avenues of inspiration and help internal IT organizations better understand the challenges and opportunities before them. 

 

Tip #2: Plan Backwards 

Proper planning is a must for most scientific computing initiatives. But one particularly interesting method for accomplishing an important goal, such as moving workloads to the Cloud or optimizing your applications and workflows for global collaboration, is to start with a premortem. During this brainstorming session, team members and other stakeholders can predict possible challenges and other roadblocks and ideate viable solutions before any work begins. Research by Harvard Business Review shows this process can improve the identification of the underlying causes of issues by 30% and ultimately help drive better project and research outcomes.

 

Tip #3: Consider the Process, Not Just the Solution

Research scientists know all too well that discovering a viable solution is merely the beginning of a long journey to market. It serves R&D IT teams well to consider the same when developing and implementing platform solutions for business needs. Whether a system within a compute environment needs to be maintained, upgraded, or retired, R&D IT teams must prepare to adjust their approach based on the business’ goals, which may shift as a project progresses. Therefore, maintaining a flexible and agile approach throughout the project process is critical.  

 

Tip #4: Build a Specialized R&D IT Team 

Any member of an IT team working in support of the unique scientific computing needs of the business (as opposed to more common enterprise IT efforts) should possess both knowledge and experience in the specific tools, applications, and opportunities within scientific research and discovery. Moreover, they should have the skills to quickly identify and shift to the most important priorities as they evolve and adapt to new methods and initiatives that support improved research outcomes. If you don’t have these resources on staff, consider working with a specialized scientific computing partner to bridge this gap. 

 

Tip #5: Prepare for the Unexpected 

In research compute, it’s not enough to have a fall-back plan—you need a back-out plan as well. Being able to pivot quickly and respond appropriately to an unforeseen challenge or opportunity is mission-critical. Better yet, following best practices that mitigate risk and enable contingency planning from the start (like implementing an infrastructure-as-code protocol), can help the business you’re supporting avoid crippling delays in their research process. 

While this isn’t an exhaustive list, these five strategies provide an immediate blueprint to improve collaboration between R&D IT teams and the business, and support better research outcomes through smarter scientific computing. But if you’re looking for more support, RCH Solutions’ specialized Sci-T Managed Services could be the answer.  Learn more about his specialized service, here

 

4 Scientific Computing Best Practices to Take Charge of your R&D IT Efforts in 2022

Attention R&D IT decision makers: 

If you’re expecting different results in 2022 despite relying on the same IT vendors and rigid support model that didn’t quite get you to your goal last year, it may be time to hit pause on your plan.

At RCH, we’ve spent the past 30+ years paying close attention to what works — and what doesn’t—while providing specialty scientific computing and research IT support exclusively in the Life Sciences. We’ve put together this list of must-do best practices that you, and especially your external IT partner, should move to the center of your strategy to help you to take charge of your R&D IT roadmap. 

And if your partners are not giving you this advice to get your project back track?  Well, it may be time to find a new one.

1. Ground Your Plan in Reality
In the high-stakes and often-demanding environment of R&D IT, the tendency to move toward solutioning before fully exposing and diagnosing the full extent of the issue or opportunity is very common. However, this approach is not only ineffective, it’s also expensive. Only when your strategy and plan is created to account for where you are today — not where you’d like to be today — can you be confident that it will take you where you want to go. Otherwise, you’ll be taking two steps forward, and one (or more) step back the entire time.

2. Start with Good Data
Research IT professionals are often asked to support a wide range of data-related projects. But the reality is, scientists can’t use data to drive good insights, if they can’t find or make sense of the data in the first place. Implementing FAIR data practices should be the centerprise of any scientific computing strategy. Once you see the full scope of your data needs, only then can you deliver on high-value projects, such as analytics or visualization.

3. Make “Fit-For-Purpose” Your Mantra
Research is never a one size fits all process. Though variables may be consistent based on the parameters of your organization and what has worked well in the past, viewing each challenge as unique affords you the opportunity to leverage best-of-breed design patterns and technologies to answer your needs. Therefore, resist the urge to force a solution, even one that has worked well in other instances, into a framework if it’s not the optimal solution, and opt for a more strategic and tailored approach. 

4. Be Clear On the Real Source of Risk
Risk exists in virtually all industries, but in a highly regulated environment, the concept of mitigating risk is ubiquitous, and for good reason.  When the integrity of data or processes drives outcomes that can actually influence life or death, accuracy is not only everything, it’s the only thing. And so the tendency is to go with what you know. But ask yourself this: does your effort to minimize risk stifle innovation? In a business built on boundary-breaking innovation, mistaking static for “safe” can be costly.  Identifying which projects, processes and/or workloads would be better managed by other, more specialized service providers may actually reduce risk by improving project outcomes.   

Reaching Your R&D IT Goals in 2022:  A Final Thought

Never substitute experience. 

Often, the strategy that leads to many effective scientific and technical computing initiatives within an R&D IT framework differs from a traditional enterprise IT model. And that’s ok because, just as often, the goals do as well. That’s why it is so important to leverage the expertise of R&D IT professionals highly specialized and experienced in this niche space.

Experience takes time to develop. It’s not simply knowing what solutions work or don’t, but rather understanding the types of solutions or solution paths that are optimal for a particular goal, because, well—‘been there done that. It’s having the ability to project potential outcomes, in order to influence priorities and workflows. And ultimately, it’s knowing how to find the best design patterns. 

It’s this level of specialization — focused expertise combined with real, hands-on experience — that can make all the difference in your ability to realize your outcome. 

And if you’re still on the fence about that, just take a look at some of these case studies to see how it’s working for others.