Many laboratories introduce LIMS to help with sample data management and reporting. Some labs will have used the same system for 12 years without upgrades, and other labs will run LIMS on the most up to date technology. If you’re one of those labs who hasn’t upgraded your LIMS in 12 years, or you’re questioning the functionality available, you’ll probably hear complaints from your team. Running on old technology and waiting for slow systems to respond is uncomfortable, like a fish too big for its bowl. Before your team gets too uncomfortable, recognise these 4 signs and consider the probability that your lab has outgrown your LIMS.
For any software to work effectively for a business, there is a level of administration duties. This can include setting up static data such as test methods, calculations and product specifications. This can also include user account and permission management. When you find yourself spending a lot of time maintaining the system, this could be a sign that you are outgrowing your LIMS. Adding new test methods, products and even users to the system so be simple and quick. You might be waiting for the system to load in order for you to input static data. Over time as you accumulate more data in the system, you might encounter a reduction in performance. Sometimes, you can choose to archive data, but this isn’t always the best option when you want all data available at your fingertips. Newer technology is available now that allows a system to maintain performance as the database grows.
Reports are a fantastic tool to extract data from your LIMS and present it in a professional way. However, waiting longer than 2 seconds for a report to generate is way too long. With advance technology available, there should be no need for any system to take longer. If you’re pulling large amounts of data from your LIMS into a report, then this may affect performance. If your report is 3,000 pages long, then ask yourself why you need this data, and is there not a more user-friendly way to present this information. If you need your LIMS to generate this 3,000-page report, this is a strong sign that it’s not giving you the functionality to view this data within the system, and it’s also a sign you’re outgrowing your LIMS.
We all know that it’s ambitious to find a system that meets all your functionality requirements now and in the future. As your laboratory adapts and improves processes, you might find the way you use your LIMS changes as well. Where your LIMS doesn’t have this functionality natively available, you then find yourself in a position of creating manual workarounds. Over time, the number of workarounds that you perform daily may start to add up and actually have a negative effect on your laboratory efficiencies. This is another sign that you have outgrown your LIMS. To help you identify how many workarounds you are doing to make up for the lack of functionality your LIMS provides is to map your process. Your LIMS could require an update or perhaps a re-configuration, and if this is too large of a task to take on, then you may even consider a completely new system altogether and start fresh.
Most people like to keep up to date with the newest technology, so they can benefit from new features. Sometimes it’s not always about the fun new features you get to play with, and most often, updates include imperative security improvements. A lot of laboratories operating a LIMS would typically say to their supplier that they don’t have the time or resource to implement an update. For regulated labs, this means undergoing a full change control, risk assessment and user acceptance testing before implementing an update to their production instance. This leads laboratories down the path of using outdated technology, and even worse, maintaining out of date operating systems just to have compatibility for their LIMS. If you have found yourself maintaining an unsupported operating system (e.g. Windows XP) just to keep your LIMS active, then this is a sign that you have outgrown your LIMS. Running old technology puts your systems and data at high security risk, and therefore, it’s important to address system updates or look to a source a new LIMS before you find yourself in this position.