Helping lab professionals GoMolecular.

Establishing a Steering Committee


In this article:

  • A steering committee can help get the job done
  • Setting expectations for members
  • How to be productive
  • Typical steering committee positions

So, you are ready to Go Molecular. The idea of quicker turnaround times, improved sensitivities, increased accuracy, and costs savings (by way of not sending out samples) is too good to put off any longer. But how do you make it happen? Building a molecular lab is a large undertaking that one lab director cannot take on alone. Time to establish a steering committee.

A steering committee is typically comprised of high-level stakeholders and/or experts who provide guidance, offer support, and make decisions on a key issue. A steering committee can be created to tackle policies and objectives, resource allocation, and projects involving large expenditures. Creating a new molecular lab would certainly fit in this description.

A project steering committee can help you to: 

   • Gain senior management involvement and support
   • Keep the project status visible to senior management
   • Maintain access to high-level decision makers
   • Create a cross-functional perspective with representatives from various interests
   • Reach a consensus on issues that cannot be resolved by the day-to-day project team.

Whether you appoint members to the committee or ask for volunteers, it is good to have a cross-functional perspective to tackle issues with different opinions and insights. Your committee should have representatives from various interests or departments, including a lab manager, a physician, an IT expert, an administrative executive, etc. Committee members should also have: 

   • The authority to make executive-level decisions
   • A high-level understanding of industry and business
   • A strategic, forward-thinking perspective
   • A desire to communicate, lead and facilitate change
   • The ability to consistently provide assistance, guidance and support.

Set Expectations

Members of a steering committee should know up front what is expected of them in terms of time commitment and role. You can assign roles or ask for members to volunteer to take on a position (see Steering Committee Positions).

Let members know exactly how much of their time will be needed — and when. Together you can determine a format, such as a monthly meeting, for 60 – 90 minutes per meeting, on the first Tuesday of each month. You could stipulate that members who miss more than three consecutive meetings without good reason are asked to resign.

Members should also understand all project issues and be able to make appropriate decisions to keep the project moving.

Be Productive

It helps to create and regularly update a monthly status report and follow an agenda to stay on track. All members should receive the agenda and status report prior to the meeting. The committee secretary can be responsible for this, as well as taking minutes. The meeting minutes should include:

   • Decisions reached
   • Action items, and the individual responsible for each action item
   • Topics to be discussed at the next meeting
   • Date, time and place for next meeting.

All members of the Steering Committee should receive a copy of the minutes.