Building or Purchasing Your Laboratory’s LIMS – Part 1

Building or Purchasing Your Laboratory’s LIMS – Part 1

Nowadays, the majority of laboratories have some kind of LIMS for the management of workflow. Their sophistication ranges from Excel spreadsheets to complex software capable of managing almost all lab functions. The term LIMS (Laboratory Information Management System) is applicable to all types of software solutions that support modern laboratory processes. LIMS can be built in-house or acquired from an organization that concentrates on LIMS software development.

 

The question of a laboratory continuing with its in-house solution or purchasing and implementing a LIMS solution from another company will require the consideration of a number of factors. This three-part article will discuss the requirements of labs and their staff, the part LIMS will play in meeting them, and the advantages and disadvantages of both approaches.

How a Laboratory Builds Its Own LIMS

Small and newly-built labs sometimes choose to cobble together a basic working LIMS from several general-use computer programs. When the number of samples and tests are not many and the processes and analytics aren’t complex, basic software will be sufficient for managing the data of laboratory operations.
Perhaps the most common program used for documenting lab data is Microsoft Excel. Its spreadsheet is used for recording, storing, analyzing, and visually representing raw data. Workbooks with multiple spreadsheets can also be used to detect issues regarding values and perform calculations. Lab employees seeking greater capabilities may download add-ons or implement scripted macros for more elaborate mathematical tasks that can be executed autonomously. Software providing task management and multi-user calendars can be utilized for tracking schedules and equipment availability.
Using spreadsheets is advantageous because they can often work with analytical software that can import their data. At the point a lab is required to perform tasks of greater complexity, more sophisticated programs may be acquired as needed. LIMS that are built in-house use software that functions independently from other lab equipment. For automation, expert coders are needed to interconnect several programs.
Part 2 will discuss the Advantages and Disadvantages of building your own LIMS.
Alpha Engineering LIMS Implementation
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.