Imagine a beautiful lake, the sunlight shimmering off of the water’s surface on a beautiful summer morning. The possibilities seem endless; boating, fishing and swimming all seem like great activities; however, things might not be as wonderful as it may seem. As you get into the water you realize something terrible…the water is only as deep as your ankles. No fishing, no boating and no swimming seem to be in your future. With your day ruined, you can’t help but think about what went wrong.
While a CTMS application may look great on the surface and appear to be exactly what you need to take your organization to the next level, frequently, when organizations get into it, they find it not as robust and useful as expected. Functionality is oftentimes surface level only and does not provide the depth needed to truly optimize research operations.
When researching a new CTMS application it is important to keep the following items in mind to prevent your organization from making a decision that does more harm than good.
While many CTMS organizations make broad claims about functionality and how they can improve your research operations, it is critically important to ensure that the CTMS you choose can be used for everything you want and need. When researching or demonstrating a system, it is a good practice to ensure that the CTMS provider tailors the presentation to your specific organization. Ask them to take you step-by-step as to how the system would address your specific issues and questions. This way you know that your specific needs will be met.
If in doubt, ask. If you are unsure as to exactly how a particular portion of the application works, or how you can benefit, ask for clarification. Ensure that you know exactly what you would be getting into, no matter what CTMS provider you select. The more questions you ask, the easier it will be to select the perfect CTMS the first time around and not waste time having to find another in the future. It also serves as a buffer from any unexpected surprises.
When I say get technical, I don’t mean you need to understand computer engineering to make a selection. It simply means understanding how the system will be evolving in the future. Ask how frequently updates are made to the system. Monthly? Quarterly? Yearly? Research needs are constantly changing, so it is important to understand if the system you select will be able to keep up with the changes. Without regular updates, a system that was perfect one day might be obsolete very quickly.
Don’t fall into the trap of “the shallow lake.” Select the best CTMS for your organization the first time. Ensuring that the system truly does contain the tools you need to address your concerns and issues. Selecting a CTMS without knowing for sure is like playing with matches, there is a good chance you might get burned.