Many Lab Managers get excited when they embark on the journey of buying a LIMS. Why wouldn’t you get excited? You are shopping for a system that will help streamline and standardize processes in the laboratory, and more importantly, it will give you the tools to help you efficiently manage the lab. When you find the LIMS that has all the bells and whistles, other aspects that affect the use of LIMS in future goes by the wayside. That’s because it’s easy to focus on what’s needed right now. Besides, who can predict the future, right? In this blog, we discuss a few areas to consider when selecting a LIMS to ensure it doesn’t hinder future growth of your laboratory.
LIMS providers tend to offer a deployment service to help you get up and running and trained on their platform. They spend one on one time with you to ensure the system is embedded into your routine process, and you can begin to reap the benefits of your new LIMS, but what happens afterwards when they walk off into the sunset? Will they be responsive to your queries? Are they there when you need help? The quality of the on-going technical support service your LIMS supplier provides is an important factor to consider. Normally, you would detail expectations in a service level agreement, and these expectations will be easily measured. During the buying process, don’t be afraid to ask LIMS providers for evidence of their current performance. Buying a LIMS is an investment and you will be embarking on a long-term relationship with your supplier. Therefore, you want to make sure that your supplier will take care of you for many years following initial installation.
Requesting New Features
Over time as your laboratory evolves, so will your requirements for LIMS. Therefore, it’s important to find a LIMS provider that implements new features based on customer feedback. Although, not every idea you have on how to improve or enhance functionality will be worth the time and cost of implementation, but small tweaks here and there would be beneficial to see from the supplier. Again, you may wish to ask for evidence of where a supplier has implemented enhancements following client feedback. Some LIMS providers have a process for this whereby features requested will be discussed with other users of the system to assess the popularity and need from a wider perspective. Where enhancements will benefit more than one organisation, LIMS providers will most likely add it to their backlog and release it in a future update.
As your laboratory grows, you want your LIMS to grow with it. Choosing a LIMS that can be scaled with growth will be important. If you expand your laboratory’s capabilities or acquire a new site, is it possible to implement the same system? Scalability doesn’t need to be thought of in terms of functionality only, but you should also consider pricing. Where LIMS pricing models are based on user licenses, will the cost of increasing user licenses hinder your growth? If your LIMS is hosted, another aspect to consider is the amount of data storage included with your rental. Overtime, it will be expected that your laboratory will accumulate more data and use or even exceed data storage capacity, so it would be good practice to consider the implications of this when selecting a LIMS, and what options there are to ensure you retain access to the data you need.
The main factor that will save your LIMS from obsolescence is regular updates. Traditionally, updating LIMS is considered a big effort that costs time and money that a lot of laboratories don’t have the resources to support. However, the negative implications of using outdated software can far outweigh the benefits of saving time and money not spent on updating. Before you choose which LIMS to buy, discuss with the LIMS provider their process and costs for updates. If the update process is lengthy, then it will require more resource from your laboratory to support it. Also, assess the costs from the LIMS provider for purchasing updates. Some LIMS companies may offer free upgrades which is common for hosted solutions where you pay a monthly rental, and other companies charge nearly the same amount as your original purchase for upgrading on-site solutions.