System Functions – A typical mistake is gathering basic LIMS requirements that are common to competing systems and not spending enough time on special features that will differentiate a system from another. An out-of-the-box component in one may be a customized component in another. Your IT and scientific staff may require specific technological platforms and seek certain tools for compliance.
New Technology – The informatics market is very competitive, incentivizing suppliers to be innovative and resulting in constant improvement of functions for customers. Some firms cooperate with platform and database vendors to remain current, while others rely on proven technology and concentrate on incremental improvements.
Consequently, suppliers have diverging positions regarding cloud technology, web support, and open device platforms. Enterprises must consider how their technological requirements fit with these.
Architecture – There are also diverging positions regarding system architecture. Aspects such as non-Microsoft OS device support, cybersecurity, hardware and database standards, web service, and API interfaces, must be considered.
Pricing for software is relatively easy to grasp in contrast to pricing for services. An important consideration is the detail of services with a quote. Prospective customers assume LIMS suppliers plan to broaden their services after the contract is signed. Consequently, some desire fixed-price quotations to limit outlay, which will result in an agreement with strict constraints. Preferred by vendors, Time and Material contracts provide greater flexibility and accommodate changing requirements.
After determining its system requirements, an enterprise will compile a list of candidate LIMS vendors. LIMS demos can be all-consuming and should be limited to top candidates. The initial screening will rely on research, review of product features, and feedback from past and present LIMS clients. The final list of candidate vendors should number no more than two or three. A firm should invite the key personnel from its various user groups, and they should be prepared with a scoring sheet developed ahead of time. Afterwards, the results should be tabulated, evaluating each vendor’s product for functionality, usability, and other important aspects. Pricing negotiation is the next step before the final selection.
Alpha Engineering Associates, Inc. has been involved with the implementation of over 50 LIMS systems ranging in size from small, “off-the-shelf” software systems to very large, highly customized, multi-functional systems, including STARLIMS, for both governmental agencies and private enterprises. For affordable client-focused network consulting services and solutions, please call Alpha Engineering Associates today at (410) 295-9500.