Laboratories are fast-paced environments where accuracy and turnaround time is critical, especially for Quality Control labs. Delivering results and meeting customer expectations is paramount, and where
quality management is implemented, continuous improvement is essential. As a Laboratory Manager, you have the responsibility to lead your team of analysts and maintain efficiencies. Providing support, scheduling workload, reviewing work, and creating reports for management take up most of your time and can even cause you to work late. A fast, simple, and reliable LIMS will certainly help lighten your workload (especially creating reports), but how do you find the time to deploy it? There is no question that deploying a LIMS requires your time and dedication, and if you have completed a return on investment exercise and see the value you’ll gain, then the following options should be seriously considered to free up your time to deploy LIMS.
This option sounds outrageous, but it is actually common practice for some facilities. Operations may have a peaks and troughs in workload throughout the year which also affect the workload in your lab. Identify the slow periods of the year, and take the opportunity to schedule your LIMS deployment during this time.
Not all laboratories have the budget to increase headcount in their lab, but if there is flexibility, then recruiting a new Analyst or Team Leader is a great option to free up time. As a Lab Manager, you have a lot of responsibilities as well as multiple tasks to complete each day. Take a note of what you work on every day for a week or even up to a month. Categorise these tasks into “things you must do” and “things you can delegate”. The idea is that you end up with a list of tasks you can delegate to another person in the lab. Whether these will be the responsibility of your new recruit or someone existing within your team (and the new recruit is brought in at entry level), you have just created a slot of time for you to dedicate to your LIMS deployment. Don’t forget that these recruitment costs can also be worked into your ROI calculations.
Most LIMS providers offer a project management service to support you throughout the deployment. It’s very helpful to have this support from a supplier. They are experts in their software, and with your knowledge and their knowledge combined, you create the formidable team for you LIMS deployment project. Again, this is also an important factor in your ROI calculations.
Start Simple, Then Iterate
We like the popular motto “Keep it Simple”. LIMS systems by nature can be feature-heavy yet powerful beasts. The temptation is to take it all at once. If you’re conscious of your time availability, then starting simple is the best way forward. Focus on the critical path of your processes and implement LIMS to fit within this process. Next, when you look to load static data, an excellent tip is to start with the most frequently tested products first and work your way down the list. Your LIMS is most useful when it has your static data loaded, but there is no need to be under pressure to load all of this immediately. Most laboratories run their new LIMS alongside their historical process for a period of time before they fully convert to LIMS.
A modular system is also a positive feature of LIMS which allows you to iterate to the next level of automation. This way, you can introduce more functionality as you become comfortable with your new system.