Even when they appear similar, laboratory workflows can be different in numerous aspects. For example, the methodology for submitting test samples, how results are authorized and reported, and how jobs are invoiced may all differ. An individual lab’s LIMS (laboratory information management system) must have the flexibility to meet its particular requirements and processes. Thus, LIMS customization or configuration must be performed to attain this. Although many interchange the two terms, they are quite different in several ways when it comes to LIMS.
Typically, customization involves modifying a software feature that will need expert programmers to perform custom coding. Developing brand new functionalities, extending the system functions, and adding programmatic interfaces to systems and instruments are examples of customization.
Configuration is the utilization of a system’s own tools to alter features or behaviors. Defining users and their profiles, data elements, including types of samples, templates, tests, workflows, spreadsheets, event triggers, and business rules are examples of configuration tasks.
There may be occasions when lab personnel may desire customizing their LIMS to meet particular requirements. However, greatly customized solutions may not be suitable for the laboratory in terms of its business needs. To illustrate, custom-made shoes will fit your feet better than a mass-produced pair, but they will take longer to make and cost more. Similarly, LIMS customization will raise its complexity and expense. In addition, its implementation may render future upgrades more challenging and costly. In contrast, configuration is not as expensive to implement. It also offers increased value over the long term, and maintenance will be less complex.
The best practices for LIMS implementation highly recommend minimizing customization whenever possible in order to extend the period that its system remains supportable over its service life. However, if customization is necessary, work with a managed services provider that is expert in LIMS for the best results.
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.