Laboratory Data Deliverables
Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking of them."
-Alfred North Whitehead
I may be dating myself, but when I started working in the environmental industry, the fax machine was just becoming standard office equipment. They were slow, used thermal paper that came on a roll, and you had to cut the paper into the right size yourself. The paper was difficult to work with as it wanted to roll back up on itself. When we needed results from a laboratory in a hurry, we would ask them to "fax it over." Otherwise, laboratory
I spent hours and hours re-typing data from paper to a computer only to print it back out on paper again. It was a good thing both I and my employer were getting paid by the hour.
It was around the time that e-mail became mainstream in the late 1990s to early 2000s that the laboratories started giving you the option of having your data delivered via fax machine or e-mail, but it was still just on paper. It wasn't until the early to mid-2000s that most labs started giving you the option of having your data delivered as an Excel file.
Thus went the getting paid to re-type data. Think of the hundreds of millions of dollars saved collectively across the country over the years by end-user environmental clients simply by not having to re-type data because the file could be delivered electronically. Seems like a small thing now that we are all used to using the technology, but it was a huge savings overall. Laboratories that embraced the e-mail delivery early on gave themselves a competitive advantage over late adopters of the email delivery method. Although not having to re-type data cut into the billable hours of the engineering consulting firms previously re-typing the data, it ultimately made them more price competitive in the eyes of their end-user clients.
The disheartening thing is that it's been nearly 14 years since the first delivery of data via e-mail in an Excel file, and that's where the technology largely stands today. Some laboratories will send you an Excel file customized to your exact specifications, but it's still just a fraction of what the end user, the entity ultimately paying the bills, actually needs.
The end user (the regulated oil companies, manufacturing firms, developers, etc.) need full reports with all the full color data, graphs, and maps completed well beyond just simple Excel tables. The future I see is a scenario where the laboratory is providing the mechanism for the client to get all
If you would like to talk to SampleServe.com about your data deliverables potential, please contact me.
As always, your comments and questions about anything I've written are appreciated.
- Russell Schindler