One of the major challenges facing modern laboratories is to optimize operations and improve performance while maintaining and maximizing quality while meeting the necessary compliance requirements and regulations. At the organizational level, innovation and staying within budget are also top priorities. So how can labs meet these goals in the face of increasingly complex workflows and accelerating operating costs?
Laboratory informatics systems (IS) provide digital solutions that help laboratories reduce bottlenecks by removing cumbersome and error-prone workflow steps such as data maintenance and organization, quality control, and reporting To do. Digital IS solutions fully integrate systems across different labs and sites, improve connectivity, and support the research, development, and manufacturing lifecycle, enabling science-based organizations to standardize these processes. helps.
More and more organizations are recognizing the power of Lab IS. In 2021, the global laboratory informatics market will be valued at USD 3.21 billion and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.9% from 2022 to 2030. The market was dominated by Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS). This is because the demand for fully integrated services in the life sciences and research industry continues to grow.
Many labs have invested in LIMS and see the benefits for their organizations. A LIMS helps users track data related to samples, experiments, lab workflows, and equipment. It often includes master data management functions, sample lifecycle reporting, system and security management, scheduling and inventory management, equipment information, storage and logistics. LIMS solutions available today are often designed for specific types of laboratory workflows, such as research and development (R&D), manufacturing, QC, and bioanalysis.
Electronic Lab Notebooks (ELNs) are another IS solution that labs are increasingly relying on to streamline their processes. Early on, her ELN’s core functionality focused on digitizing note-taking so that users could record and store the results of their experiments. Current-generation ELNs provide this capability, but can also automate data review processes, enable cross-functional collaboration between teams, and record and maintain intellectual property documentation. Along with a LIMS, an ELN brings great value to your entire organization.
However, with so many options already available, finding the right IS solution for your lab can seem like a daunting challenge, let alone ensuring successful implementation of your chosen system. I can’t. This article highlights some of the key considerations when choosing or replacing a LIMS or ELN and offers tips for successfully deploying the system across your organization.
Which IS solution is right for me?
If you have decided to invest in a LIMS or ELN system, chances are you have already considered your lab’s requirements and identified where these solutions can address those needs. This is an important place to start when identifying which system to choose. By seeing where your workflow is inefficient, you can recognize the features you need in your LIMS or ELN. For example, if your lab frequently collaborates with external organizations, choosing his ELN with optimized data sharing capabilities should be on your priority list.
It is also important to be familiar with the regulations and legal requirements related to your data and the software used to manage your data. These can create a need for the ability to manage chain of custody, signatures and approvals, data integrity, data availability, consent management, and more.
Other considerations include quality of vendor relationships, reliable technical support, scope and flexibility of upgrades, security and ease of use. A LIMS or ELN with a user-friendly and intuitive interface is more likely to drive adoption across teams and lead to successful implementations. Taking these considerations into account gives decision makers confidence that the system they have chosen is the right one, because an organization that invests in the wrong system has no value.
Ensure successful implementation
In many cases, when an organization decides to purchase a lab IS solution such as a LIMS or ELN, it is for good reason and the underlying technology is understood. However, the broader implications for how labs work now and in the future are often not considered. So regardless of the potential success of the implementation project, the resulting system may not meet all expectations. Below are three simple steps to ensure your new system is ready for your lab’s and your company’s needs.
1. It’s not just about productsAfter all, most of the top LIMS and ELN solutions differ little in the features they offer. What companies should pay more attention to are the additional services offered, such as implementation methodologies and long-term support mechanisms. We also recommend evaluating future development opportunities for your system and how vendors and solutions can support your future needs. Thinking about these factors at the outset will ensure the continued success of your IS solution as your organization evolves.
2. Who should be involved? The teams involved in onboarding new systems and shaping solution performance should be carefully selected. Instead of organizing your team based on who is the most available, take the time to ensure that everyone on your project team is a committed stakeholder. Also consider working with a third party such as an IS consultant. Third parties have these specific skills from years of experience doing this in their labs. They bring invaluable experience, predict common failures before they occur, and provide lab-specific recommendations. If using an outside consultant makes sense for your business, choose one with a thorough background research and a proven track record of successful IS implementations.
3. Invest sufficient time, energy, and resources in all stages of implementation. Set a timeline and stick to it (as much as you can). For example, for LIMS and ELN implementations, a timescale of 6-12 months is common, but this depends on scope and complexity. There are multiple ways to manage your implementation, from traditional waterfall to fully agile. Choosing the right approach, regardless of which route you choose, is a whole other task in itself. Regularly evaluate your original estimate, resource needs, change requests, and impact on your lab. Informatics projects always generate a ton of questions and problems, so be prepared and create a steering group empowered to make the decisions.
With the continued growth of the lab IS market, choosing and implementing a LIMS or ELN platform can seem complicated. In fact, this is not a project that can be started quickly, and it takes time and some resources to ensure a successful deployment of a new system.
However, by focusing on the broader company goals and the lab’s role within the organization, and involving the right team of people, success is always achievable. We can advise you on your IS solution and provide support throughout the implementation to ensure a successful implementation.
However, for this partnership to work, the organization must fully understand the problem they are trying to solve and ensure that the consultant is consistent with the problem description. The entire project team should be ready to collaborate and adapt to ongoing communication with the consulting team.