LIMS FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
WHAT IS A LABORATORY INFORMATION MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (LIMS)?
As laboratories grow and evolve, needs change regarding the management of data. A Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS software) manages data, allowing users a real time look at what’s happening to ensure a laboratory’s efficiency and effectiveness is maximized. A LIMS software is used to manage the collection, processing, storage, retrieval and analysis of information generated in laboratories. It also supports collaboration across a laboratory and helps to ensure the quality, regulatory compliance and safety of products in development.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF USING A LIMS?
With a Laboratory Information Management System - LIMS software - laboratories can automate workflows, minimize manual tasks and reduce the risk of data collection and transcription errors. And, most important, for organizations in highly-regulated industries, it can enhance compliance and quality while making your laboratory more efficient and effective. Labsols is an ideal LIMS for progressive organizations looking to better connect to organization-wide data to greatly impact productivity. It can integrate with a variety of organizational systems to most efficiently collect and manage laboratory data.
WHAT IS LABSOLS LIMS?
Labsols LIMS is a comprehensive solution suite which has the LIMS (Laboratory Information Management System) as the centerpiece. Coupled with add-ons plug-in tools (i.e. Customer Portal, CRM, Mobile capabilities (access your lab on smartphones or tablets from virtually anywhere) and Advanced BI Analytics (see and understand your data), Labsols LIMS is an integrated solution that helps you move from managing data in silos to delivering integrated, meaningful, and intelligent information that supports lab workflow and business value.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A LIMS?
The implementation of a LIMS can support organizations to:
- •Increase efficiency (move to a paperless lab, improve resources management & optimization and improve access to quality data across the organization)
- •Reduce errors (integration with enterprise systems & instruments, automation of processes avoiding manual data entry)
- •Centralize & retain data (data readily available - searchable for fast decision making)
- • Ensure regulatory compliance
WHO USES A LIMS?
Safeguarding data, faster product release, and improved compliance with the implementation of a LIMS can benefit the entire company, but certain stakeholders can derive specific benefits:
- •Quality Control: QC personnel are invested in data accuracy and completeness of testing. Modern commercial LIMS provide field-level data authentication to trap entries inconsistent with pre-established rules. Reproducibility in calculations is a critical concern as well as ensuring that all required testing has been completed within prescribed limits.
- •Lab Supervisors: Supervisory personnel are responsible for first level review. A LIMS can queue up work to be reviewed and notify supervisors of impending review tasks. Work assignments and laboratory workload balancing are also functions capable of being monitored and managed within a LIMS, and the automation of these tasks greatly improves supervisor productivity.
- •Quality Assurance: For QA personnel, the LIMS supplies the tools that facilitate the implementation of QA policies, ensure that regulatory requirements are met, and allow for quick access to information to respond to audit requests.
- •Laboratory Personnel: The fundamental axiom held by LIMS users is that the software can make their lives easier and increase user workload.
What are some things to consider when looking into getting a LIMS?
When looking for a LIMS system, there are a few very important things to consider. One of the most crucial factors is continued support and service. The truth is that there will be several LIMS that meet your needs, Labsols being one of them. However, because it is likely that you will have your LIMS for 10+ years it is important to choose the right partner that will not only help you have a successful implementation but one that will work hard to achieve and maintain your satisfaction in the long-term. A key part of your long-term satisfaction is related to support but it will also includes product innovation and improvements. Therefore, it is important to choose a vendor that is not only committed to customer support and satisfaction but also product innovation that is aligned with industry trends and best practices. It is also important to look for LIMS vendors and solutions that provide a simple and intuitive user experience, have flexibility to be easily configured to meet your needs, provide easy upgrades, and can ensure a straightforward and successful installation. While a LIMS must meet your needs it is especially important to choose a vendor with robust reporting and analytical tools. Sometimes a LIMS vendor is only as good as the resources they assign to your project so make sure your implementation and support teams are not only experienced but are experts in your industry. Other factors to look for in a Laboratory Information Management System include:
- • Fair and transparent pricing
- • Easily customizations to meet unique needs
- • Industry-specific solutions
- • Regulatory compliance or industry certifications solutions
DOES LABSOLS HAVE INDUSTRY EXPERTISE?
For more than 15 years in the LIMS business, Labsols LIMS has been deployed in top companies in the life sciences, pharma & biotech, chemical & refining, food & beverage, manufacturing, environmental, public health and forensics sectors, with industry specific workflows. Strong references and global implementations.
What is the implementation process for a LIMS?
- • Implementing a leading LIMS requires working with a qualified vendor that can design a system that fits your specific needs and industry standards. After selecting a vendor, the vendor will work with you to create a statement-of-work (SOW) that should outline the scope, timeline, assumptions, roles and responsibilities and approach. Much of the SOW should be created prior to selecting a vendor and should be used to determine the best vendor for you.
- • Have a clear scope prior to choosing a vendor also avoids the all too common vendor game of them saying they can and will do everything only to get a “Foot in the door” and then “Change order” you to death by charging extra for every little thing that may not have been stated in the initial agreement.
- • Once the details of the SOW are finalized, a kick-off meeting should be held to get all project participants on the same page. The kick-off meetings are followed by a series of meeting to map our the various processes and begin to align the processes to the LIMS and visa versa.
- • In some cases it will be best to change a process to meet the LIMS software and in other cases the software should be configured to meet the process. The balance of these two choices depends on the flexibility of the LIMS software and the experience of the implementation team. This alignment should be an iterative and highly collaborative process.
- • LABSOLS employs an implementation methodology called Rapid Protoyping Method (RPM) that is iterative, highly collaborative, and hands-on. It helps to ensure a very efficient process that users find to be non-intrusive to their day-to-day jobs and that gains user “buy-in” and ownership. Once the LIMS is configured, in-depth training will be conducted. Training should be role based (e.g. admin, analyst, manager, etc).
- • Your vendor should provide constant support during go-live to quickly answer questions and help refresh training principles. Post go-live support and training should be offered plus a 30 day check-in should be conducted to address issues, refresh training, validate proper use, etc.
How do you successfully implement LIMS software?
The best chance of successfully implementing LIMS software is working with a reputable vendor. It would be best if you found a vendor that also offers continued success and a custom approach to your LIMS system. Labsols is a trusted LIMS provider that focuses on your satisfaction and success. Our extensive customer base has resulted in 100% customer retention and a 98% Net Promoter Score. This Net Promoter Score is a customer satisfaction metric based on recommendations. You can start the vetting process by narrowing down your choices based on the Net Promoter Score and client reviews.
How much does it cost to implement a LIMS?
- • There are many factors that determine the cost of implementing a LIMS, such as, the size of your laboratory (number and type of users), system needs-scope, industry requirements, instrument integrations, integration with other corporate systems, and data migration from legacy systems. It is often best to start small and then expand and evolve over time but that will depend on how mature your current processes are. Your LIMS vendor will work with you to determine how far and how fast.
- • Implementation costs primarily fall into two categories, namely, software costs and services. Software is licensed as “Perpetual” licenses or “Subscription” licenses and it is important to understand the differences and the benefits of each.
- • With a Perpetual license, the customer buys the licenses and thus owns the software and pays an Annual Support and Maintenance (ASM) fee each year that is equal to 20%-25% of the license costs. With a subscription license, the customer leases the software by paying an annual subscription fee that includes the ASM. Perpetual licenses cost more upfront but subscription licenses cost more over time. The two models usually “Break-even” in year 4-5 after which subscription cost more annually.
- • Also, perpetual licenses are usually treated as a capital cost whereas a subscription is treated as an expense. This may not matter to you but it may matter to your accounting department so talk to them about the options. Many vendors today only offer subscription based pricing. Cloud/hosted vs. On-premise will also have an impact on your costs. Therefore, it is important for you to determine if you want your vendor to host your solution in their cloud, or if you want to host it on-premise (i.e. in your data center managed by your IT department). It is important to know this upfront as not all vendors provide options.
- • Some small LIMS vendors only provide cloud/hosted/SaaS, and some of the older vendors only offer on-premise. However, there are some, like LABSOLS, that offer both options. Because there are so many variables that go into the cost of any system it is probably best to share that we have customers that have implemented for as little as $4k for a 1-3 person lab with basic needs to & $1M for customers that have hundreds of users located in multiple globally dispersed labs with complex requirements.
How long does it take to implement a LIMS?
- • The timeframe for implementing a LIMS or Lab System mainly depends on the scope and complexity of the solution, the number and location of the labs/teams involved, and how fast the customer can go. However, with a highly flexible product like LABSOLS, a highly experienced team, and the right implementation approach on average a LIMS can be implemented in days and weeks that usually span a few months.
- • What does this mean? The best way to explain this is through an example. We recently implemented a LABSOLS system for an average size water/wastewater customer where we quoted 30 days of services which included system install, system configuration, instrument interfaces, reports, training, etc. However, those 30 days spanned a total of 3 months. This was primarily due to the preference of the customer, meaning they were only able to go at that pace due to the fact that they had day-to-day jobs, vacations, covid restrictions, etc.
How can I get started implementing a LIMS?
- • Contact a leading LIMS vendor and get educated. What do we mean by this? Very early on, contact a vendor or two and have them show you everything a leading LIMS solution can do. This will educate you on what is out there and options there are.
- • Once your mind has been opened to what is possible, continue to refine your requirements and have follow-up demonstrations that are specific to your specific needs. Get a quote from a vendor or two early on to understand the costs and to start to socialize the costs with management and so you can budget and plan properly. It is best to narrow your vendors to 2-3 finalists, have them do a series of demonstrations, meet the team that will work on your project, and compare costs.
- • While costs are important, please don’t go solely off cost. There are some LIMS vendors that will “low-ball” the cost just to get you in the door and then they will nickel-and-dime you for every little thing via change orders. LABSOLS has not issued a change order in over 5 years. This means we clearly define scope, we do what we say we are going to do, and we provide an expert team.
Can you integrate a LIMS with other systems and instruments?
Yes! Leading LIMS vendors will have tools that integrate with both other systems as well as lab instruments. LABSOLS for example, has interfaces that allow you to easily connect to your lab instruments. LABSOLS also provides hundreds of services that allow integration with corporate systems such as ERP, Barcode, Accounts, CRM, DMS, etc.
How can LIMS help me achieve industry compliance?
A LIMS by nature will help you accomplish your audits or achieve regulatory compliance and certification in an easy and timely manner through consistent processes and accurate data. Additionally, leading LIMS solutions, like LABSOLS, provide specific modules or functionality that will further achieve compliance such as instrument management, personnel management, inventory management, audit trail, corrective action/preventative action, method management, regulatory reports, and more.
- • ISO 17025 Certification
ISO/IED 17205 Certification applies to food testing laboratories and others in the food vendor market. Implementing a LIMS offers the benefit of achieving ISO/IEC 17205 accreditation as it eliminates the need for supplier audits. LIMS also verifies robustness, capability, and operation workflow efficiency. Without ISO/IED 17205 accreditation, labs will need to overcome technical barriers that the food industry faces. A LIMS overcomes that barrier and is an indispensable tool for receiving certification.
- • NELAC/NELAP/TNI Certification
NELAC Certification is an essential compliance certificate for data management in the water / environmental laboratory industry. Implementing a LIMS system that automates the lab’s workflow will preconfigure the data collection system to adhere to regulatory requirements, like making sure your personnel has the necessary training to perform their job. A LIMS designed to address your water testing labs; specific workflow and regulatory requirements will allow your lab workers to make informed decisions and disseminate information quickly.
- • LIMS also makes it easier to respond to ongoing regulatory and industry demands. Then when NELAC / NELAP / TNI audits occur, typically every two years, your LIMS system will simplify the process by giving an end-to-end review of all related information.
- • GLP Certifications
Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) relate to laboratory testing industries. GLP certifications set standards that protect scientific data integrity and provide the EPA and FDA with a clear and auditable record of open-ended research studies. A LIMS system simplifies the regulation process by providing labs with clear information that proves their business practices. A few factors that apply to GLP certifications include quality assurance, testing facility management, standard operating procedures, equipment, written procedures, master schedule, records and reports, and CAPA system. As you can see, LIMS provides much of the information needed to prove the practices in many of these areas.
- • LIMS Software Training
You can work with your vendor receiving LIMS software training during the implementation process. Certain vendors may also offer ongoing support for updated training sessions. There are also online courses available to walk you through the features built into a traditional LIMS model. For more information on LIMS software training offered by LABSOLS, contact our team.