In our new four-part blog series, we explore why you should implement a laboratory information management system (LIMS) in your lab, what factors you need to consider in the selection process, and how to plan your implementation. Our first blog highlighted the benefits of a LIMS — here we look at what capabilities are available.
Implementing a LIMS in your lab can be hugely beneficial to your workflow, helping track, store, and analyze the data generated by every process. Beyond data, it can also help you manage your lab processes efficiently, enabling greater productivity. But there are many LIMS solutions available, and with so many capabilities on offer, it can be daunting to figure out what your lab needs to thrive.
Selecting the wrong LIMS can be a costly mistake if it is missing important features your lab needs, or customization is required to fit your workflows. What’s more, without a full understanding of what capabilities are available, you could be missing out on unlocking new efficiencies. In this blog, we focus on 10 key solutions that an ideal LIMS should offer, so you can consider the right options for your lab’s needs.
10 capabilities to accelerate efficiency
1. Sample management, accessioning and tracking
A LIMS handles the sample tracking process from start to finish, but its capabilities go far beyond. It can also manage shipment, accessioning, and inventory processes. By managing all these processes, you can ensure sample integrity, data quality, and a proper chain of custody.
2. Lab management
One core strength of a LIMS is its overall lab management capabilities, which fall into three broad categories:
- Inventory management: Track where items such as reagents and consumables are located and the supply available. Monitor their use-by date and assign automatic reorder alerts for ultimate ease.
- Instrument management: Monitor instrument status in your lab. You can also schedule calibrations and maintenance, based on workload, to optimize uptime and resourcing — particularly during busy periods.
- Lab health: View and manage all your lab resources. Dashboards give you an overview of the lab’s status so you can appropriately determine timelines and resource projects.
Many labs need to ensure they comply with internal and external regulations. A LIMS makes this easier by securely tracking all data and metadata needed to support compliance. Furthermore, a LIMS supports regulatory compliance to guidance documents including GxP, ISO 17025 and FDA 21 CFR Part 11.
4. Workflow capabilities
It can be challenging and time-consuming to connect your processes. A LIMS enables you to map your workflows graphically to actual laboratory processes to automate decisions and actions, thereby reducing the need for user intervention.
5. Process compliance
A Laboratory Execution System (LES) guides analysts through each step of a method to ensure correct and accurate SOP execution. It also captures the complete process history to demonstrate compliance. Many LIMS have this capability in-built, enabling users to take readings and observations during processes and record them straight into the LIMS.
6. Collaborative working
If your organization spans multiple labs locally, regionally, or globally, you will likely benefit from data-sharing capabilities. A LIMS collects and shares data securely across sites in real-time, meaning everyone has access to all the data they need, instantly.
7. Enterprise integration
Many labs already have (or are planning to install) enterprise systems that are crucial to the production side of their operations, such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES). Some LIMS integrate with such systems, and other lab systems such as Electronic Lab Notebooks (ELN) or Chromatography Data Systems (CDS), to connect disparate data sources and reduce manual data transfer.
8. Flexible deployment
Nowadays, LIMS can be deployed in multiple ways based on your organization’s needs. Notably, it can either be on premises, or via a managed cloud to reduce initial hardware and IT investment. To select the right LIMS, check how your organization requires your data to be managed, and consider your long-term IT strategy.
9. Data security and archival
In any organization, security is a must. A quality LIMS is able to connect to industry standard identity and access management systems such as OAuth2.0, and also offer multi-factor authentication.
As well as data security, a LIMS handles data archival. Proper electronic reports can be retained, and data archived, in line with regulatory requirements.
10. Data visualization and analytics
There are more options with your data than ever thought possible. LIMS software not only captures all relationships and metadata, but enables you to share, analyze, audit, and report it contextually. An ideal LIMS will also offer dashboards and data visualization, to present information from all the connected data, providing overviews such as lab performance and assigned work. With AI and machine learning, some organizations are looking to LIMS to support profiling and forecasting to reduce testing and expedite research.
Make the right choice for your lab
A LIMS can be a crucial catalyst for lab productivity by streamlining your workflows and making processes simpler. But it is only beneficial if you understand what capabilities are available and which of these will best advance your workflows. Not every LIMS is the same, so take the time to consider what you need — whether it’s process management, flexible deployment or easier regulatory compliance — to maximize success in your lab. Download our LIMS Selection ebook for a comprehensive guide on the key considerations for LIMS selection.
Now you know what a LIMS can do, look out for the third blog in our series where we cover how to pick the right LIMS for your lab.
Leave a Reply