Scientific Productivity | Managing the Lab

Top 6 Tools for Lab Managers

As laboratories across fields have evolved to keep up with industry trends, so have the tools lab managers use to oversee their lab and lead their team members to success. We’ve compiled a list of top tools that lab managers need to stay up to date, organized, and ahead of the competition.

1. Lab Inventory Management Software

In order to stay on top of lab inventory tasks, modern lab managers should invest in lab inventory management software to help purchase lab supplies and maintain an auditable trail of all inventory records.

Additional benefits of utilizing lab inventory management software include:

  • More effective inventory monitoring
  • The elimination of inventory inaccuracies
  • Automated stock level assessments
  • Forecasted stock reordering

2. Sci-Hub

Beloved by scientists and researchers, lab managers can use Sci-Hub to find research in their field, free of charge. Read through hundreds of thousands of primary sources of research daily, hosted in an open source database.

3. Science Podcasts

Podcasts can be a great source of tips, insights, and ideas for lab managers. Here are a few top podcasts for scientists, researchers, and lab managers.

  • LabMind: Dr. Brian Jackson hosts this podcast that explores where laboratory medicine is headed
  • Soft Robotics: With guests from both academic and the industry, this podcast discusses research and how thought leaders from scientists to business people think about robotics
  • BBC CrowdScience: BBC’s science podcast reviews interesting research, covering new expansions of knowledge

4. Excel Shortcuts

Lab managers frequently work in spreadsheets. These shortcuts commonly used by lab managers work in MS Excel, Google Sheets, and other spreadsheet tools.

If you aren’t a pro at them yet, here are the key excel shortcuts that lab managers should know:

  • Insert total sum: Alt + =
  • Insert current time: Ctrl + Shift + Colon
  • Insert current date: Ctrl + Colon
  • Add bullet points within a cell: Alt + 7
  • Scientific notation style: CTRL + Shift+ ^
  • List constants: CTRL + Shift + J

5. r/labrats

Sometimes, the greatest tool is a community of like minded folks. This Reddit community — a self described, “hangout for lab nerds!”— just may be your most valuable tool yet. With moderators who specialize in everything from molecular biology to enzymology, this community boasts countless threads that are overflowing with general lab advice and thoughtful stories about the realities of working in any type of lab environment. Just post any lab related question you have and wait for helpful insights, tips and tricks, and generous feedback to pour in.

6. ASQ Resources

The American Society for Quality is a global organization dedicated to connecting professionals and practitioners with one another in order to advance their knowledge and careers. ASQ has an abundance of laboratory management resources designed to help you overcome any obstacle you may face as a lab manager.

Tools available through ASQ resources include:

  • A Knowledge Center designed to help you find articles and publications, learn the fundamentals, and research current topics
  • “Ask a Librarian” to help you customize your research process
  • Popular books of special interest to both commercial and testing laboratory managers

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Your community is often your best resource as a lab manager, so lean on fellow scientists and researchers and find out the ways they’re optimizing their labs and moving research forward.

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