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The Essential Guide to Choosing the Right LIMS Software for Your Laboratory

by Piante

Every lab has unique requirements that a LIMS system needs to meet. The right LIMS will allow for customization and a flexible design to ensure it is a good fit for your team’s workflow.

Be sure to check whether the vendor has instrument integration capabilities that can enable quick transfer of data between instruments and the LIMS. This is important for labs with limited IT resources.

Know Your Needs

A LIMS software system can help to automate workflows and reduce the amount of manual data entry that is required in a laboratory. It can also help to reduce errors and increase efficiency across the lab. However, before you decide on a particular solution you need to clearly understand what is your laboratory’s unique situation and requirements. This will help you select a suitable LIMS for your lab that can deliver the best return on investment and drive your laboratory towards its goals.

It is also worth considering that your lab is likely to grow in the future and adopt new types of tests or additional samples. This will require the LIMS to have a flexible enough structure that it can be expanded without any major redevelopment or costly customizations. This should be discussed with potential suppliers during the evaluation process.

Ask potential suppliers about the architecture options they offer and how they would support the implementation of a solution to meet your specific lab needs. For example, if your lab is GxP-regulated you may need the ability to track sample shipments from the laboratory, accession them into the system and then access these samples on demand.

It is also important to find out if the team that manages your LIMS implementation are experts in both the product and in lab operations. This will help to ensure that the solution is rolled out quickly and efficiently. In addition, these people should remain with your organization indefinitely to provide ongoing support as the solution is used and as your business evolves.

Know Your Budget

The LIMS selection and implementation process is a significant investment for your lab. Make sure that the system you choose is affordable. The best way to do this is by calculating the total cost of ownership (TCO). TCO includes all external costs, such as licensing fees, implementation costs, training, and maintenance. It also includes internal costs, such as the time and resources necessary to maintain the system. By calculating TCO, you can make an informed decision that will be beneficial to your laboratory in the long run.

To reduce TCO, it is a good idea to opt for configuration over customization. Customization takes more time, and can make the software less flexible in the future. To avoid this, look for a LIMS that can be configured to fit your laboratory’s features and workflow. For example, if you need to manage a large network of complex biological samples, like plasmids or cells, seek out a LIMS that can easily access, annotate, and track these types of data without expensive customizations.

Another way to cut TCO is by choosing a solution with built-in features that are typically offered only as add-ons, like ELN or SDMS. By leveraging these integrated solutions, you can save both money and implementation time. In addition, it is a great way to ensure that the system you are investing in is right for your needs and will provide you with maximum return on investment.

Know Your Technology Needs

Defining your objectives for a LIMS system will help you identify what features are essential versus the nice-to-haves. Once you know what functionality your lab needs, you can compare systems against one another to make an informed decision about which vendor will meet your laboratory’s requirements.

For example, let’s say that your lab prioritizes sample tracking and execution of protocols, along with storage organization. In this case, you may want a solution that can track sample registrations, record and track results, and store samples in a centralized database with customizable field names and data formats.

Your lab may also need a LIMS that provides the flexibility to configure and adapt to your workflow. While this is a desirable feature, you’ll need to determine how much time and effort you are willing to spend on configuration vs. if the solution can accommodate your current workflow and then grow with you as your laboratories’ processes evolve over time.

You’ll also want to consider the software architecture of your chosen solution. For example, some LIMS solutions are implemented on premises for quick installation and minimal IT requirements; while others are deployed via a cloud-based solution to reduce initial hardware investment. Additionally, some solutions integrate with other enterprise systems such as ERP and manufacturing execution systems (MES) or chromatography data systems (CDS), to reduce back-end manual transfer of data.

Know Your Vendors

Getting the best results from your LIMS will depend on how responsive your vendor is to your concerns. When selecting a LIMS software solution, look at how quickly your shortlisted vendors respond to requests for product demos, customizations and technical support.

Evaluate each vendor’s ability to accommodate your data storage requirements. For example, if your organization plans to store the data on your own servers, assess whether the system will be able to handle that amount of data and how easy it would be for you to migrate that data to another vendor should your needs change down the road.

Then, determine whether you need an on-premises LIMS installation or a cloud-based solution. An on-premises LIMS will require your IT staff to maintain the physical infrastructure, hardware and software needed to run the system. It may be preferred by laboratories with stringent security and compliance requirements and that want to have full control over their data and infrastructure.

Then, consider how your lab users will access the system. If you’re considering a mobile app option, make sure your shortlisted LIMS can be used offline to allow for input of data on-the-go and will automatically sync once internet connectivity is restored. In addition, evaluate each vendor’s ability to provide system setup assistance, user training, and ongoing support services. This article is written by Morain khan – a healthcare content writer at IHLD Lungs Hospital.

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