The key to a successful deployment of a LIMS in your laboratory is simple and it is to choose the LIMS provider that most suits the needs of your company. There are many LIMS providers to choose from and each with their own individual USP’s - the important thing is to find the one that is right for you. A LIMS is currently highly sought after by many laboratories as it can solve many of the issues that laboratories face such as time management, sample tracking and assisting in the gaining of accreditation. Indeed, many regulatory bodies would now expect a LIMS to be installed in certain laboratories as it is the most reliable method of data storage and ensuring the integrity of data. However, many laboratories are failing in their deployment of LIMS projects and these are just a few of the reasons why:
Not the right fit
As already mentioned, there are many LIMS suppliers out there due to the surge in demand for LIMS, but suppliers vary in what they are able to provide and how their solution is deployed. For example, some LIMS suppliers offer a bespoke service where they can tailor their LIMS to your exact company needs, but for this, the cash outlay would be huge. Some LIMS providers, however, will have a relatively generic LIMS for those who are looking to simply replace Excel with a more reliable method of storing and comparing test data and the quick and easy production of C of A’s and provide a rental option meaning there is much less of an initial outlay. To combat this, some LIMS providers will offer a discovery stage which is separate to the LIMS project itself whereby they will spend time with you to discover exactly what your company needs and how your business works and then give you a breakdown of what they think is best for you - regardless of whether it is their product offering or not and this will give you a good idea which type of LIMS is best for you -therefore minimising the potential for failure.
Time and Resources
For most companies the time between making a decision on a LIMS project, finding the provider and then actually deploying the LIMS can be a lengthy process. During this time, many things can change – the needs of the company, the amount of staff needed to oversee the project, and even the capital available. Once a project has the go-ahead it is advisable to begin the project within a reasonable time-scale. The reason being is to ensure that all of the staff needing to be trained are available and informed, the time is set aside for the integration of the laboratory equipment and that, for example, (if a manufacturing facility) that production are aware this will be taking place. If the resources and staff are delayed or unavailable, this can not only hold up a LIMS deployment but could also derail it completely.
There will always be those who are resistant to change, especially in companies where things have been done a certain way for so long. Once a new system is introduced, be it an IT system, HR policy or LIMS, there will always be those that are either against it or unwilling or unable to learn. Those that aren’t familiar with new systems, those that are reluctant to change – they can’t be ignored and must be fully trained and supported to ensure they are familiar and comfortable with the new system. The LIMS provider you choose therefore must have solid training programmes and a willingness to help when needed. The cohesion of not only the company staff but also between the LIMS providers and your company is crucial in combatting the failure of LIMS deployment. The way to tackle this would be by asking yourself the following. Firstly, as already mentioned, pick the right LIMS provider for you. This doesn’t just mean from a software and financial perspective, but also do you like them? Do they as people have the qualities you are looking for? Do they understand your company? For example, some companies may employ solely software developers and managers which may be just what you need whereas some may have staff from a laboratory and technical background that can assist you with issues you know they have dealt with themselves. The relationship between you as a company and the LIMS provider is important and so is the support provided to your staff by that company. Teamwork makes the team work.
There are many reasons why there are failures in a LIMS deployment, but if there is just one thing to take away, it is this – research and planning is key. Research LIMS providers. Get one of them to run a discovery session to find out exactly what you need and who can deliver it. Meet with the providers and decide who you would most like to work with. Research their methods, compare financials with other providers and see who they already work with. Once you find the right fit and you work to a selected timescale and you have the right people around you, your LIMS project is guaranteed not to fail.