Today LIMS systems, along with a number of other scientific and technological advances, are being widely used in laboratories. By integrating a modern LIMS, you will greatly simplify lab processes such as laboratory research, sample management, reporting, inventory tracking, task monitoring, and more.
It's not surprising that more and more organizations—hospitals, pharmacies, biotech, universities, etc.—are adopting LIMS solutions. This is clear by the steadily growing amounts of money that are spent on LIMS development every year. According to Statista, by 2021 it will exceed $ 900 million.
In our new article, you will learn how to create a LIMS system, what functionality it should have, and how to ensure its practical implementation is the most effective for your needs.
What challenges can you solve with LIMS implementation?
Over the past few decades, LIMS implementation has become a firmly established part of everyday clinical practice. This has significantly changed the nature of laboratory work and even the very idea of disease treatment principles.
The main advantages of the LIMS system are:
- Automation of routine operations
- Minimization of human errors
- Boosting employees’ productivity
- Modernization of the quality control system
- Inventory tracking with no losses
- Improved workflow/data management
- Automation of the reporting system
In our previous article, we’ve described in detail how LIMS software can help medical, research, and other institutions solve their business-specific challenges. Read it to find out how to streamline workflow and reduce costs using a laboratory information management system.
5 key features to include in your LIMS system
The functionality of laboratory information systems can be very diverse. The ability to select certain features or build a custom LIMS depending on your business goals will allow you to get a product tailored to the needs of your organization.
Although defining the functionality may initially seem to be a daunting task, there is a basic set of features that should be included in your LIMS:
- Sample Management
This implies the ability to enter data into spreadsheets, manually or automatically, and receive data from other information systems (ERP, order entry, etc.). The system makes it easy to track information thanks to detailed tables and samples’ statuses on the dashboard.
- Data storage
Changes in data are common in laboratory practice. A database can be designed in such a way that all changes are automatically saved. Thus, the user will be able to see all the previous documents’ versions in their changes history and never lose important details.
- Statistics of quality control research
This feature will enable you to get the results of control measurements directly from the analytics system. Since this procedure is mandatory in any laboratory and requires manual results processing, the automation of this will save a lot of time and labor.
As a rule, a laboratory information management system includes a set of standard reports. There is also an embedded report generator that allows the user to independently develop and customize the required reporting forms.
- Electronic Laboratory Notebook
ELN is used for document research, experiments, and laboratory procedures. This feature enables customers to completely abandon the use of bulk paper laboratory notebooks.
5 important steps for your LIMS implementation project plan
The transition to LIMS can be a difficult process as the nature of the work changes significantly. Regardless of whether you prefer a ready-made product or a custom solution, you will have to scour the market to find a suitable vendor, define functionality, train employees, and more. However, there are steps that will make this process less painful and much smoother.
- Analyze your business needs
The main goal of LIMS, and any other software system, is to maximize workflow efficiency. With this in mind, you need to thoroughly analyze the existing lab processes and identify which need optimization and automation.
Final LIMS requirements will depend on the proper identification of your needs. This becomes a reliable basis for creating a great LIMS to solve all your current and/or anticipated challenges and helps you avoid additional expenses associated with developing unnecessary functionality.
- Choose between a market-ready and custom LIMS
There are many large companies on the global market that offer LIMS systems. Usually, they build their software products in the form of a "skeleton", which then can be adapted to solve specific problems of a particular laboratory.
However, there are some drawbacks with these off-the-shelf products. Since they are designed for a wide audience, they contain a lot of unnecessary functions that you may not use at all, but still have to pay for. And for the features that are missing, you will face additional costs to upgrade.
With custom development from scratch, it’s possible to tailor the system to your specific requirements and without overpaying for unnecessary functionality. If implemented properly, this certainly pays off in the long-term.
- Find a trusted software/LIMS development vendor
To search for a service provider, you can use both the recommendations of colleagues and independent search efforts. For example, it would be reasonable to browse reputable platforms such as Clutch.co and GoodFirms. There you will have the opportunity to get acquainted with the range of services, the experience of companies in specific industries, as well as to find honest reviews and ratings based on feedback from real customers.
There are many important points to consider when choosing a software development house. Be sure to check our article “Ultimate guide on how to choose the right custom software development company for your project”.
- Take care of resource allocation and project management
To ensure the success of your LIMS implementation, you need to hire a reliable and highly-qualified team. Developers, business analysts, QA engineers, project manager, and more will complement each other at all stages—from project planning to software testing.
Give careful consideration to the risk management plan. It should include a description of all project stages, all possible risks and ways to solve them, as well as the role of all internal and external resources in these processes.
A combination of project management skills, resources, and methodologies is crucial for achieving a successful result.
- Stick to the principle of gradual implementation of LIMS