Is There Such a Thing As an “Independent LIMS Consultant”? Does It Matter?

I read a blog post recently from a LIMS consultant attempting to define what an independent LIMS consultant is.  They defined “Independent” as “not directly involved with” and that it does not mean “small”.  I agree with that definition.  However, I contend that there is no such thing as an “Independent LIMS Consultant” or at least it is so rare that one can argue reasonably that it does not exist.

Why do I say this?  Most LIMS consultants who have done anything in the LIMS world has worked with one LIMS or another in their work experience.  If they have not, then they don’t have the experience and do not deserve the title of LIMS consultant.  Many LIMS consultants have the bulk of their experience with one LIMS or another and in order to get more consulting gigs, they cash in on that experience by making their consulting services available to the LIMS vendor and their customers.  This is a very good thing.  However, it means the LIMS Consultant is biased towards what they know.  This is natural and it benefits the client.

Given this fact, I would argue that the LIMS vendor is equally a LIMS consultant and is in fact the most qualified of LIMS consultants when it comes to their system.  So are we saying that an Independent LIMS Consultant is one who is independent of vendor bias?  Sorry, that ain’t happening.  Like I said earlier, if they do the bulk of their work on a few different LIMS products, which products do you think will be recommended to you the customer?  How can a LIMS vendor recommend a product they have never worked with before.  This simply is  not credible.  So there is no such thing as an independent LIMS consultant.

What about help with defining your requirements?  In my opinion, any experienced LIMS consultant or vendor can help as long as they have credible experience in your industry.  The idea is to fully document your requirements.  LIMS requirements have been created a thousand times over and there is no need to reinvent the wheel.  If you are in an environmental lab, do you really need a consultant to help you document your requirements.  The answer is yes if you intend to competitively bid the system and you don’t have the time to document those requirements for an RFP.  Do you need a LIMS consultant?  That is up to you and to the degree you think it is necessary.

There is an alternative:  DIY (do it yourself) LIMS specification.  If you are in an industry where lots of folks have LIMS and you are not so unique that you have over the top requirements that no one else has, then there is a tool to use.  Go to:  www.limspec.com and download a copy of a LIMS requirements template and add and delete requirements to meet your needs.  You will save a lot of time and money in defining your precise needs.  If you still think you need an independent LIMS consultant, then go for it but know that they exist about as much as there is an independent LIMS vendor (NOT).

Finally as a matter of full disclosure…  I am a LIMS vendor.  I created the LIMSpec.  I created it from hundreds of public available LIMS requirements and de-duplicated the requirements down to the most common set of requirements for many types of LIMS.  Did we slant the spec around our LIMS?  Nope, there was no need because the requirements were not developed by us but by numerous real world labs who purchased LIMS and 95% of those labs do not have our LIMS product.  Further, the requirements you select from the template is up to you so if you develop your requirements using this template, how can it be biased towards any particular LIMS?

Why did I make this LIMSpec and why do I make it freely available?  It is simple; we do not want any lab to be prevented from easily purchasing a LIMS.  If you are able to document your requirements without the need to spend money and time on consultants to help you find a LIMS, then you have more money to spend on the LIMS and you spend less time trying to select a LIMS.  This is good for all LIMS vendors, not just us.  Also it is good for you as a customer.  You save money and time.

So what is my agenda here?  Simple, don’t get snowed by the concept of an independent LIMS consultant.  They don’t exist.  Am I opposed to consultants?  NO WAY!  We use them everyday to help us with implementations of our system.  They provide value for requirements gathering and implementation but mainly as hired resources as part of our team.  Bottom line is to use the LIMSpec.  Go as far as you can in defining your needs by yourself, take ownership in the system you are specifying and then use your LIMSpec to select the best value solution that meets your requirements defined by your LIMSpec.  All of this should allow you to more quickly purchase a LIMS whether it is our LIMS or someone else.  We, like other vendors, want the opportunity to sell you our respective LIMS and we all know that you need clearly defined requirements in order to be successful so the use of the LIMSpec is a tool to shortcut the process.

This is a good thing, don’t you think?

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