How Much Is that Doggie (LIMS) in the Window?

If you have ever had to purchase a LIMS, you know what a chore it can be. First, there are over 100 LIMS vendors and products to choose from; you have to sort through all those vendors and products and try to find a small, manageable group that can meet your functional and business needs. And if that is not hard enough, the fun really begins when you ask, “How much is that LIMS in the window?”

This seems like a simple enough question doesn’t it? Well, I hear from all to many customers that getting a price list is like pulling hen’s teeth (Have you ever seen a hen with teeth?). Getting a LIMS vendor price list is about as rare. Have you ever heard the saying: “If you have to ask how much it costs, then you cannot afford it”. All of these clichés apply nicely to today’s LIMS industry.

Before we get into how to deal with this problem, let’s start with something completely different and entertaining. Watch this short video to get into a good mood:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AkLE4X-bbU]

 

 

How to Deal with the License and Pricing Issues

There are a series of questions that you need to ask the LIMS vendor early on in the search stage when choosing a LIMS. Licensing and pricing is one of the easiest (for you anyway) ways to immediately screen any LIMS. What good does it do for you to search for a LIMS that you cannot afford. You may really like a particular LIMS, but if it does not fit your budget, you may as well walk on by.  Many LIMS vendors will say that pricing should be the LAST thing you should look at. They say, “Why would you buy a LIMS that won’t meet your functional needs and requirements?” I agree with those vendors; the only thing is, you are not buying a LIMS at this stage. You are screening LIMS vendors and products. So, you may as well start with the easiest part and get licensing and pricing information very early.

Now, here is where the fun begins. The LIMS salesperson is on commission, bonus, or otherwise has a big stake in selling a LIMS. The more you spend, the more money he or she makes. Don’t let anyone fool you. The LIMS industry is no different than any other. It’s a business for profit and profit is driven by higher revenues. So here is how the game works. The salesperson really wants to focus on your needs and requirements. Now that sounds logical and good. In the pursuit of requirements, the salesperson starts building value. As with any good sales professional, he or she will find your pain points and then focus on how his product addresses those pain points. This will be done through various iterations without once getting into the cost. Finally, you will be getting a proposal from the LIMS vendor along with a demonstration that will make you feel really good. Voila, the salesperson has built value, and you acknowledge that value. This makes it easy for the salesperson to now price a proposal based on value to you rather than on a price list. This allows him or her to maximize the revenue potential of the LIMS sale. This is a fundamental reason why it is next to impossible to get a retail price list from a LIMS vendor.

By the time that entire process is done, you have many hours of many people invested in the LIMS purchasing process, and that is with just one of up to five LIMS vendors you are looking at. You can see why the purchasing process for a LIMS can take months and why prices can vary wildly.

So where does this leave us? Well, it leaves us with the million dollar question: “How much is that LIMS in the window?”  Granted, the window in this case is probably a Microsoft Window.

It is all fine and good for the LIMS salesperson to build value, but let that happen after you’ve received a price list and plain English explanations in writing of how the product is licensed. Some of the more paranoid vendors will want you to sign an NDA so that you do not share their price list. That is fine. Just remember that as you proceed through the LIMS purchasing process. All those sorts of little things should add up.

The Bottom Line

Narrow down a group of LIMS products and vendors by asking for their retail price list and licensing terms. Don’t immediately disqualify a vendor based upon their retail price list. They will all compete for your business. You need this so that you can at least know how to build your budget or determine whether or not the product can even come close to your budget.

There are many, many factors that make up the cost of a LIMS such as the license price, recurring maintenance and support charges, and the cost of implementation, validation, training, and IT infrastructure.

There is a free resource to help you get through this entire process, and there is a user’s group online that has real-world users to help you. Fill out this form to download your free copy of the LIMSpec 1.0 LIMS User Requirements Specification: http://www.jotform.com/form/72235958005 and be sure to go to http://www.limspec.com to join a Linkedin user’s group that addresses these specific topics. These tools have been used by thousands of labs to successfully select a LIMS to meet their needs.

Give it a whirl.