LIMS Master Data
January 29, 2020
A recent study by JP Morgan determined that the value of global merger and acquisition (M&A) deals in 2018 was 4.1 trillion dollars with a total deal count of 2,342. M&As are common in several industries such as pharmaceutical, biotech, food and beverage, oil and gas, and others, but the pharmaceutical industry likely sees more M&A activity than any other industry, both in terms of the number of deals and the amount of money spent on the acquisitions.
Reasons for M&As are numerous and diverse and include:
- Improve profitability
- Increase efficiency
- Automate manual processes
- Shorten time to value
- Enhance business intelligence
- Acquire R&D data
- Expand product portfolio
- Maximize growth
- Innovate core business models
- Mitigate technology disruption
- Implement game-changing strategic moves
While the potential benefits of an M&A are compelling, there are also potential pitfalls lurking that can swallow large amounts of both money and resources. One of these potential pitfalls involves the problems that can occur when attempting to merge two different company’s data infrastructures.
Integrating and consolidating the master data in disparate enterprise systems is one of the most critical, yet costly and time-consuming, challenges that need to be met in an M&A. In part 5 of our LIMS master data best practices series, we will discuss best practices that can help guide the strategy for consolidating and managing LIMS master data in mergers and acquisitions.
Master Data Best Practices for M&As
Any organization undergoing an M&A will be significantly increasing IT infrastructure and the amount of master data that needs to be managed and maintained, as well as the cost of doing so. As such, each application should be analyzed to determine how it aligns with the company’s future-state vision and brings value to the organization over its lifetime in a process known as application portfolio rationalization.
There is also a strong need to aggregate and consolidate data to provide for post-merger operational efficiency and also quick wins for the short term. Merging and harmonizing disparate LIMS and their data into a single functional operating environment is not a simple task and can put enormous strain on a company’s IT department if not planned and executed effectively. Even if you don’t need to merge two separate LIMS into one, master data in your LIMS will need to be adjusted to accommodate new and/or altered workflows. Having a scalable master data plan in place, as we discussed in part 3 of our LIMS Master Data Best Practices series, can help to facilitate this process.
Effective master data management (MDM) during an M&A is an important enabler of everything from business continuity to post-merger innovation. Some of the key aspects of a successful master data management (MDM) strategy for LIMS master data include:
Conduct an Audit of Systems and Data. When a company integrates an acquisition or engages in a merger, the sooner the data integration team is involved, the smoother the integration is likely to be. The first thing that should be done by IT during an M&A is to conduct a full system and data inventory in order to understand and document the current data landscape. Some data challenges to consider and document include:
- Data may be captured, managed and maintained differently
- Data standards may be different
- Data processes, procedures and methods may be different
- Data quality may be different
- Data strategies may be different
An inventory of this nature can be difficult to accomplish if either organization lacks good IT and data governance/documentation This is why it is important to have change control procedures in place A good place to start is to identify business, subject matter and data experts across both organizations and form a data team to research and determine what documentation is available for this initial phase. A few key questions to ask when trying to document the current data landscape include:
- Where is the master data currently located (systems, apps and files)?
- How does data traverse these different systems?
- Who owns data?
- Who manages data?
If a change control procedure (see part 4 of our LIMS Master Data Best Practices series) is in place that includes a data migration plan, the master data plan, and how to conduct reviews and audits, these questions will be easy to answer.
Do Strategic Planning. Once the current data landscape is documented, the next step is mapping out the future state workflows that will determine your master data configuration. Laboratory workflows utilize LIMS master data, and an M&A means workflows will likely need to be altered and new workflows added into the system. The first step in the process is for business analysts to conduct a series of interviews with business stakeholders to document the current state of laboratory business processes, technology and IT architecture in both organizations. In addition, analysts should discuss the merger at a high level with the organization’s management team to understand the goals, aspirations and objectives of the desired future state of the laboratory.
Once the current state is fully documented, the project team will work to create a future state model by defining the goals, workflows and requirements of the desired future-state. If you choose to harmonize and standardize laboratory operations on a new LIMS or a legacy system, the technical, business and user requirements from the strategic planning phase are utilized to guide the technology selection, implementation and integration process.
Map Out the Data Structure. With future state workflows established, the next steps are determining the data fields to be entered into the LIMS, establish naming conventions, and mapping out the data structure. We covered this in detail in part 2 of our LIMS Master Data Best Practices series. In addition, if the Master Data Plan we discussed in part 1 of our series exists for the LIMS that will be used in the new operating environment, the process of mapping out the new data structure will be much easier. Of course, this Master Data Plan will need to be updated to reflect the new operating environment. Once the data structure is mapped, configuration of the LIMS can begin.
Standardize and Migrate Master Data. Master data from the acquired company may need to be standardized before being migrated into the LIMS that will be used for the new unified operating environment. Data migration for a project of this nature can be a significant challenge The Data Migration Plan we discussed in part 4 of our series should guide this process. Master data from the acquired company will likely need to be extracted, translated and loaded into a new location. Questions to ask that help to determine your data migration/management strategy include: How are we going to get master data out of the acquired company’s systems and into the LIMS? How are we going to harmonize data across multiple sites?
Data management/migration for an M&A is typically a big job. It is therefore important to formulate a Master Data Management/Migration Strategy before any migration or LIMS configuration has happened in order to avoid significant time and cost overruns as the project proceeds, as well as minimal disruption to your lab operations during migration activities.
Once the data has been migrated, regulatory requirements mandate that it must be validated to make sure it is accurate and has been transferred properly. This validation should be guided by your Change Control procedures. Even if your company is not in a regulated industry, validating migrated data is important to make sure your data is sound.
Mergers and acquisitions can help drive your competitive advantage, but they can also paralyze a business and generate significant unexpected costs that can serve to minimize the value proposition of the merger. Following the best practice recommendations described in the blog help to establish a single version of the truth in your LIMS, something which is critical to ensuring your laboratory maintains operational efficiency, data integrity, and regulatory compliance. Effective LIMS master data management in an M&A is also important to ensure your laboratory continues to produce the valuable business intelligence that drives innovation and competitive advantage for your organization.
Astrix is a laboratory informatics consulting firm that has been serving the scientific community since 1995. Our experienced professionals help implement innovative solutions that allow organizations to turn data into knowledge, increase organizational efficiency, improve quality and facilitate regulatory compliance. If you have any questions about our service offerings, or if you would like have an initial, no obligations consultation with an Astrix informatics expert to discuss your master data strategy or LIMS implementation project, don’t hesitate to contact us.
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