Be a Savvy LIMS Buyer: Try It before You Buy It

It seems like the modern software industry has passed most LIMS companies by.  The modern software company has become mature and competitive while LIMS software companies seem to be stagnant, lacking innovation and unwilling to provide even the most basic product information on their web sites; instead choosing to rely upon salesman promises over real concrete demonstration of product features and functions.  This is the sort of behavior you would expect from software companies in the 1980’s and 90’s, not a modern software company.

There is hardly any software product today that runs most any type or size business that does not have demonstration videos, on-line manuals and a free trial.  Try getting any of that from most any LIMS company today.  It seems like the larger and more expensive the LIMS is, the less information that is available on the product.  Just look at the web sites of most of the LIMS products and companies today.  Try to see a demonstration video, try to find a user manual to review and most of all, try to find a free fully functional trial version of the software that you can run.  It is practically non-existent in the LIMS industry today.

Things to Expect Before You Consider Any LIMS Product

Let’s face it, a LIMS purchase can be a big deal for most any size or type of laboratory, so you had better be prepared and informed before you ever spend a penny.

First, the LIMS company must be able to provide an on-line help manual on the LIMS.  This manual should cover every aspect of the software and should provide written proof of what the system can do.  Look at it this way, if it is not described and explained in the manual, then chances are the system cannot do it.

Second, the LIMS company should be able to provide multimedia video demonstrations/tutorials on all of the aspects of the product.  If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a thousand pictures.

Finally, the LIMS product should be available for at least a 30 day free trial.  This should be available regardless of the size or complexity of the software.  In fact, the more complex the system is, the more reason you need to be able to do an in-depth review of the software before you ever decide to place a purchase order.  This single item is your best tool for evaluating a LIMS product.  With it, you will see the manuals, the actual software and all training videos and tutorials.  If the vendor won’t provide that to you, then you need to ask yourself if this is really a product you want to risk your laboratory operations on.

The modern software company today provides all of this to users well in advance of a purchase and it is about time that the LIMS industry start following that lead.  It is good for the customers purchasing LIMS and it is good for the company selling LIMS unless they are simply trying to sell vaporware.


  1. Mitchell Novotney says:

    Ot true at all in my experience. Several of the websites I have visited offer extensive product details and white paper content. As to the idea of a “fully functional trial version”, such a thing is of marginal value with LIMS since, as everyone who is an informed buyer knows, a high value LIMS is one that can be specifically configured to suit the workflows of a specific lab. Any sort of trial version woul be too generic to have any value, and any effort to configure it would involve more work than most buyers can afford the time to do.

  2. I do understand and appreciate what you say. However, a LIMS vendor should supply a variety of preconfigured functioning LIMS to choose from. This helps to shortcut the evaluation process. We find that a lot of time is spent by users trying to define requirements in a vacuum and they have a hard time knowing where to begin. By offering free trials of systems that are preconfigured to come close to what the customer needs is a great way to get the customer thinking about exactly what they need.

    A good free trial will allow the customer to run real world samples through the LIMS from sample receiving to reporting. It won’t match what the customer does exactly but it will go a long way towards making the buyer a very well informed consumer.

    Many enterprise software companies are providing this to their potential customers and I think it is time for LIMS companies to do the same.

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