There are a number of software tools available that lend themselves well to the management of research labs and here we focus on those that have a free tier, are open source, or are supported by the Fred Hutch itself.
Reagent and Laboratory Organization
Quartzy is a free, web-based lab management software. Users can organize lab member order requests, track order receipts, and organize lab inventory. Quartzy’s ordering system integrates with the Hutch Online Marketplace to streamline ordering and subsequent tracking of receiving in the lab, as well as lab storage and lot tracking. This software facilitates four main lab functions:
- Submit supply requests – Lab members can browse Quartzy’s catalog of life science products and request supplies from their lab manager
- Process supply requests – Lab managers/Supply managers can receive and incoming supply requests for approval.
- Receive and Organize lab supplies – Users can mark supplies as received, automatically update inventory data, and alert lab members when supplies are back in stock and where to find them.
- Search/Browse Lab inventory – Users with appropriate permissions can search the entire contents of the lab for reagents, or browse individual locations within the lab database.
Asana is a web-based project management software. It allows groups to create tasks and assign those tasks to group members. Groups can get task reminders, define timelines, comment on the status of tasks, and easily edit the scope of tasks as projects develop. Tasks may be independent, or dependent on the status of other tasks–for example, when laying out a project where Task A must be finished before Task B can be performed, you can define Task B to be dependent on the completion of Task A. This functionality allows easy design of task workflows within projects. Asana can be accessed on mobile devices, laptops, desktops, and tablets, which allows easy group communication, regardless of platform.
Trello is another web-based project management software. Its functionality is very similar to Asana–groups can create and assign tasks, manage priorities and status, comment and attach files, and can be accessed on multiple device types.
Team Communication and Collaboration
Slack is a collaborative team messaging software. Communication in Slack happens in channels–which can be organized by project, topic, team, or whatever makes sense for a group. Conversations in Slack are searchable, which can facilitate group communication and easy onboarding of new group members. Slack also offers integration of other software tools (Google Drive, GitHub, Asana, Trello, etc.), which can be very useful for communicating project information. Several groups at Fred Hutch use Slack to communicate with members–including the Fred Hutch Bioinformatics Interest Group (FHBIG). Individual groups or labs can create a private Slack workspace just for their group, or individuals can join other Slack workspaces as well as guests or members, depending on how the workspaces are set up by their administrators.
- At FHBIG’s Slack Channel, you can see an example of how groups are using Slack to facilitate communication between bioinformatics-oriented researchers here at Fred Hutch.