A common sight in many labs is the infamous ‘sticky note’. Rarely does it have any more information other than “DO NOT TOUCH” and it always seems to be on the exact piece of equipment you need. The sight of one of these ‘notes’ immediately raises questions like: Who put the note there in the first place? Is this equipment still being used? When will it be available? This form of communication wreaks havoc for lab administrators and managers since the “DO NOT TOUCH” sticky note provides absolutely no visibility into equipment utilization or availability.
This lack of visibility is a constant challenge for most labs. Beyond the personal frustration of having to track down the owner of the sticky note, it has a direct impact on:
- Productivity—lost time tracking down the owner and those waiting to use the equipment
- Profitability—idle equipment consuming power
- Potentially unnecessary equipment being ordered to fill testing requirements
- Customer satisfaction—release schedules slip or inadequate testing is performed
So how do you solve this problem? The answer is rather simple, use the reservation capability of a lab management system. Just like a conference room reservation system you may use such as Outlook, where you select the location, date, time and duration, a lab management system will reserve resources for only the time period needed allowing to maximize the ROI of CAPEX investments in addition to the reduction of OPEX expenses such as power consumption.
Other benefits a lab management system provides:
- Know who is using what and for how long
- Offer methodical way to reserve equipment
- Power down devices until they are really needed which saves power
- Identify devices that could be removed because they are never used which clears rack space
When evaluating a lab management system, look for:
- Ability to reserve ALL the equipment needed at once, quickly and easily in a calendar view
- Configure the devices to the desired state
- Send work orders to lab technicians for necessary interconnects between the devices
- Integrates with technologies including patch panels, L1 Ethernet switch, L2 Ethernet switches and RF cross connect switch
- Automated execution of test cases once the testbed is fully prepared for 100% lights out test automation
- Integrates into other test management systems such as Zephyr
Whatever the route you take, make sure that the company that offers the lab management system you choose has a proven track record in testing, local support for your global team and integrates into your current test case automation framework. Due diligence up front will save you headaches six months down the road because you planned ahead and were not surprised by things you didn’t think of initially.