There comes a point in every lab where the way things work just doesn’t anymore. Data gets scattered across paper files, spreadsheets, and a patchwork of laboratory systems. Manual processes can’t keep up with rising demand. Ultimately, customer satisfaction plummets with profound implications for the lab. All these challenges stem from the way labs manage information. Often, taking control of productivity, throughput, and customer satisfaction requires a laboratory information management system (LIMS).
But changing your lab’s infrastructure is a big decision. How do you know it’s the right one?
If these 28 signs of laboratory information management challenges look familiar, your lab is ready for a LIMS.
Signs you need a LIMS for performance and quality control
Running a lab is a constant balancing act. Your customers want timely, accurate reports. Your staff wants fulfilling but sustainable workloads. Meanwhile, your accountant wants you to hit revenue and profit goals.
Poor information management can knock lab operations off-kilter, sending turnaround times through the roof and delaying the completion of customer orders.
You might be ready for a LIMS if these statements describe your lab’s performance challenges:
1. Turnaround times keep growing, but we don’t know why.
2. We know the samples are in the lab. We just don’t know where.
3. We don’t know how much time we spend on data entry, but it’s a lot.
4. We’re spending more time fixing errors and retesting samples.
5. Data is too scattered to monitor lab performance, much less control quality.
6. Adapting to “the system” is easier than working more efficiently.
A LIMS puts every aspect of laboratory performance at your fingertips. With everything from sample location to training status in one database, you can easily monitor and control your lab’s performance.
Signs you need a LIMS for data security, privacy, integrity, and resilience
You must protect customer data from security breaches and inappropriate access. Not only is it good business, in many cases it’s the law. Yet, protecting lab data involves more than access control.
Inefficient data handling can compromise data quality and integrity at any point during testing. On-premises laboratory systems also put your lab at risk from fires, floods, or other disasters.
Without a LIMS to protect your lab’s data, you may find yourself saying things like:
7. We always thought we were too small for hackers to notice us.
8. Securing every lab system keeps us from doing our work.
9. Email and thumb drives are how we exchange data.
10. Anyone can access or change our records, and we wouldn’t necessarily know.
11. Our paper forms get lost in the shuffle.
12. Our spreadsheets are scattered across multiple systems.
13. We never know which document or spreadsheet is the most recent.
14. We would lose everything in a fire, flood, or ransomware attack.
A secure LIMS protects your customers’ sensitive data. For example, role-based access controls reduce the risk of security breaches, while end-to-end encryption renders any stolen data unreadable. In addition, cloud-based LIMS solutions make your lab more resilient to disruptive events.
Signs you need a LIMS for industry and regulatory compliance
Accreditations and regulatory compliance are table stakes for labs in many industries. Customers expect their labs to follow best practices for laboratory management. Governments want to know if labs meet minimum performance and reporting standards.
Proof is where many labs struggle. Demonstrating compliance requires thorough documentation of lab processes and performance.
If compliance evidence is hard to find—or worse, missing—these frustrations will become all too common:
15. Customers ask why we aren’t ISO/IEC 17025-compliant.
16. We want to enter new markets, but regulations like HIPAA are complicated.
17. Getting accredited is too time-consuming and expensive.
18. Audits are all-hands events because nobody knows where everything is.
Integrating methods and workflows within a LIMS provides the framework for consistent laboratory management. Moreover, the LIMS becomes the single source of truth that streamlines accreditation and compliance efforts.
Signs you need a LIMS to support growth
Market trends and scientific advancements drive labs to evolve and grow. Regional expansions let you do what you do best on a larger scale. Alternatively, entering adjacent industries leverages your lab’s expertise in different settings.
Yet, success can be a double-edged sword. More business requires managing more samples, conducting more tests, and performing more complex analyses for more customers.
The following complaints may be a common refrain if rigid laboratory practices won’t support your growth plans:
19. We generate data faster than we can add file cabinets and hard drives.
20. We keep adding staff for data entry rather than testing.
21. None of our systems, digital or paper, talk to each other.
22. New technologies generate more data than we can handle.
23. New analytical methods are too complex to track in spreadsheets.
Adopting a LIMS based on configurable cloud technology positions your lab for whatever the future holds. For example, your organization becomes more agile and scalable when your staff can easily configure new methods or locations.
Signs you need a LIMS to improve customer service
Whether you serve businesses or provide public testing services, customer expectations never ease up. Either type of customer wants to know that you’ve received their order and that the reports they receive are accurate and easy to interpret. In between, they want visibility into the status of their orders.
None of this is possible without streamlined systems that can track orders from receipt to completion and provide status reports instantly.
Adding a LIMS to your lab will keep your customers from saying things like:
24. We placed an order, but who knows when we’ll get a result?
25. If my calls get through, their front-end staff never have the answers.
26. It takes a rocket scientist to figure out what their reports mean.
27. Why do I have to call during office hours to place an order?
28. I hate waiting for the mail just to see my results.
A LIMS goes beyond enhancing performance at the bench. With instant access to order status information, your staff can respond quickly to customer questions. Keeping customers informed goes a long way to building trust and repeat business.
When you need a LIMS, LabLynx is the LIMS you need
A complete LabLynx LIMS solution addresses the challenges today’s information overload imposes on labs. Among the capabilities that make LabLynx’s ELab LIMS the LIMS you need include the following:
Single source of truth
Consolidating methods, workflows, processes, and data storage within our ELab LIMS platform gives your lab a single source of all the information they need. Technicians can find samples anywhere in the lab, while managers can use dashboard reports to monitor throughput and other performance metrics.
Centralizing data also improves your lab’s productivity and accuracy. For example, instrument integration and report automation exchange data directly with your ELab LIMS. Freeing your staff from manual data transfers lets them focus on more productive lab work. At the same time, automation eliminates common transcription errors that undermine lab performance.
Each customer’s LabLynx solution starts with a version of our LIMS platform that we optimize for their relevant industry. Far from a one-size-fits-all application, our industry solutions provide the foundation for your lab’s growth.
We pre-configure ELab LIMS with methods and workflows common to your industry. At the same time, our highly configurable solution meets your lab’s unique requirements on your terms. Adding test methods or expanding to new locations won’t require costly software development. Your LIMS administrators can quickly reconfigure ELab LIMS to support new business opportunities.
Security, integrity, and resilience
From complying with privacy regulations to improving operational resilience, a LabLynx LIMS solution offers multiple data protection capabilities. End-to-end encryption makes sensitive data inaccessible to outsiders. Role-based access controls make it easier to manage need-to-know authorizations.
Additionally, our cloud platform enhances your lab’s operational resilience over traditional on-premises databases. Should your internal networks go down, authorized users can still access your LIMS and keep your lab running.
A complete LabLynx LIMS solution integrates your ELab LIMS with customized web portals. Give your customers instant, anywhere, anytime access to your lab’s services. They will use your portals to place orders, download sample labels, track order status, and receive test results.
Besides making customers happier, this self-service model improves office productivity. Reducing the number of calls for low-level requests frees time for your staff to address more complex customer issues.
If you recognize any of these 28 signs of laboratory information management challenges, your lab is ready for a LIMS. Contact LabLynx to learn more.