The Enterey Blog

Laboratory Management System "LIMS" - Lessons Learned

Posted by Tita Tavares on Fri, Jun 22, 2012 @ 01:20 PM


LIMS: Lessons Learned

Instead of Augmenting the Workload

Think you need to grow another arm to get all the work done? Maybe you just need a(nother) LIMS.


A laboratory information management system (LIMS) is an electronic information-management system intended to streamline business practices, thereby increasing efficiency and, ultimately, return on investment. Probably one of the most important features of a LIMS is its ability to read data directly from an instrument, removing the human element that was once needed to input such information into a spreadsheet or other data-storage system.   


Everything to Everyone

It is difficult to explain what a LIMS is exactly because it’s somewhat dependent upon the user. For example, LIMS is customizable and can be used in a multitude of ways. A LIMS can manage and store data directly from instruments like gene-sequencing or high-throughput machines, gauge and control sample quality, and organize personnel and workload management, among other tasks.


A clinical laboratory will have different needs for a LIMS than, say, a manufacturer who needs to comply with 21 CFR Part 11. For the manufacturer, a LIMS can document and maintain an audit trail in much the same way as a paper trail, ensuring that changes to data are evident to reviewers and compliant with regulations.


The Right LIMS for the Job

The key to developing a LIMS is identifying your company’s particular needs. Investigate the bottlenecks and areas that need some improvement and select a LIMS designed to address these issues. It helps to answer the following questions when selecting a LIMS:

How is your business operating today? 

Where do you need to improve processes in order to increase efficiency?


The goal to choosing a LIMS is to actually decrease the workload, not adding to it. Simply implementing a software system that takes employees more time to run does not address problems with inefficiency. Quite simply, a LIMS must work for its users.


Making an Introduction

Once an appropriate LIMS is selected, pilot the system to those who will be using it to get them accustomed to its features and to be sure it will work within their environment. Once users have had the chance to voice any concerns, educate them on the areas in which the LIMS can offer the most benefit and how it will impact resources. Where once a person was needed to input data, that person can now be better utilized elsewhere. Not only can this enhance overall workflow but can also eliminate some of the duplication of effort and errors inherent in these types of tasks.


Death by Customization

As for customization, adding new features to a LIMS can offer great benefit in some situations. However, over-customization may complicate the process and frustrate users, thereby adding to the workload and potentially dooming your LIMS to fail. Knowing just which features will be of most benefit to your company is crucial.


The Consultant as Your Right-Hand Man (or Woman)

Often people aren’t aware of just how many phone calls and emails from vendors they’re destined to receive during the LIMS implementation process. This is where the consultant can be of great benefit by acting as a liaison and triaging communication. Not only does this ensure a cohesive and unified message to vendors, but it also saves time and decrease the burden on a client, allowing them to focus their efforts where they can be of the most value.


Published by Mike Ferletic | CEO, Enterey Life Sciences Consulting


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Tags: LIMS, Laboratory Management System, Implementation, Pharma Manufacturer