In the rush to get your laboratory online, your offices equipped, and your experiments initiated, it can be difficult to honestly evaluate your IT needs. But once you start setting up computers, installing software and dealing with ballooning data storage, you will understand how important it is to have biotech startup IT expertise on your side.
Most biotech startups do not have the resources or need to hire full time IT staff, which is why they choose to work with outsourced IT service providers. The choice of a provider is an important one, because they take responsibility for the technologies on which your entire startup relies. Take the time to consider your options and vet any company you consider hiring. Follow this guide to find the right company faster.
Step One: Evaluate Your Needs
Before you begin considering biotech startup IT providers, you should try and determine which services you feel you need now and moving into the future. There are a lot of IT companies out there with a wide variety of specialties and service offerings. Despite what they promise, many of these companies don't understand the unique needs of a biotech startup company and may not be a good choice for you.
Determine with your startup team what kind of technologies you need to put in place, what level of service you expect and where your startup may be in the first 18 - 24 months. Once you know these details, you are ready to begin evaluating the offers of competing IT companies. There is no reason to settle for a company that doesn't understand or appreciate the fast pace of a biotech company and is not willing to flex out of its own rigid service offerings.
Step Two: Query Your Network
You probably have a number of connections within the biotech world. Use your network to get honest, experience-based evaluations of potential IT service providers. Contact other biotech companies, VC companies, bioinformatics and software pros, and find out who they use currently and have used in the past.
Your professional network is an invaluable resource because it allows you to cut through the sales pitches of various IT providers and get information that is specifically relevant to the biotech industry. The needs of every startup are different, so you cannot rely completely on your own past experience or the recommendations of others, but they can provide very useful information to work into your evaluation.
Step Three: Research Online
The Internet is a great resource to help you find IT providers and reviews of their services.
Any IT company worth doing business with will have a detailed website that has comprehensive information on it. Visit these websites to help you eliminate the companies which cannot offer you what you need.
Check to see if these companies have a blog, and look at the kinds of content they post. Blogs are a way for businesses to contribute to the discourse around their industry. A company which posts actively, and addresses issues relevant you your biotech startup, is making an effort to expand its knowledge base and stay relevant to its clients.
Step Four: Look Locally
Many IT service providers claim to be able to manage all of your needs remotely. Remote management is an exciting new capability, and a service offered by many IT companies, but it should not be the only service offered. When you need biotech startup IT help the most, you will want to work with a company that can send an expert to your location quickly.
For this reason, the location of the IT service provider you choose to work with is important. Find out which companies are close to you and how large their service area is. Establishing an IT infrastructure is a complicated process, but it is a lot easier when you have hands-on help and on-demand support.
Now you know where to look for an IT service provider. Find out what you need to do to vet your short list of candidates by reading our white paper “After the Seed: Planning IT Investment for a Biotech Startup.”