Implementing a laboratory information management system (LIMS) can be stressful. From configuring the system, data migration, instrument interfaces to training and change management policies, there are a lot of moving parts that must be managed and accounted for. While the LIMS implementation is a big undertaking, there are ways to prepare ahead of time to keep the process manageable and streamlined.
Throughout this article, I lay out some of my top considerations to review with your team before beginning your LIMS implementation.
1.) Know Your LIMS Contract
In a lot of cases, the client team actually working on the LIMS implementation is not made up of team members that were included in contract negotiations with the LIMS vendor. It’s important for your LIMS implementation team to be aware of the specifics of the contract including what modules are being delivered, expected features, estimated hours and more. It’s helpful to discuss the details of the contract with the vendor implementation manager before engaging in building out the LIMS to develop expectations and build trust.
Specific items to note in the contract when it comes to the implementation is the professional service type your team agreed to. There are two major types of professional service contracts:
- Fixed – The client has agreed to pay a set number of hours of work total. Even though the hours on the contract are estimates, a fixed contract states that there is no more money or hours allotted for this project beyond what is stated on the contract. There is no wiggle room.
- Flexible – The client has agreed to pay, at a minimum, the number of hours estimated on the contract. The client does understand, however, that since the hours are estimated, the project may go over, and the client will be responsible for paying any overages.
2.) Change Management
As a follow on to the previous topic, discuss a change management procedure with your vendor implementation manager. Some clients employ an internal project manager to oversee the implementation while a separate group, such as lab team members, conduct the implementation with the implementation manager. A change management procedure will help the team pinpoint key features and areas needed by your team and help minimize going out-of-scope on the project.
1) If there’s an internal project manager involved, do all requests and changes need to go through the project manager before implementing a change?
2) Is there an implementation team member who will have authority to make decisions regarding changes in lieu of the project manager?
3) Is there an expected process you would like the vendor implementation manager to follow when implementing changes?
- You request a change.
- You request the implementation manager provide documentation on the change, what it does, and user interaction information.
- You review and then approve / decline. If you approve, the implementation manager builds ticket and begins change process.
- After change has been completed, you test the system, updates are made as needed, and then you can provide final approval.
3.) Out-of-Scope Changes (OOS)
As a you become more familiar with the LIMS, you will often identify potential improvements to processes and capabilities. However, both you and the vendor implementation manager should be careful to avoid going outside of the scope of the implementation as it is stated in the contract.
The contract dictates the scope and often states very specifically what is to be delivered during the implementation. Anything not specifically stated in the contract can be considered out-of-scope (OOS).
Be aware that all hours stated on the contract are estimates. Most vendors do their best to deliver the project at or under the overall number of hours provided. OOS changes can increase the number of hours used and even make the project go over hours. The implementation manager will notify the client when the contract is nearly exhausted, and they will need to work with the client to deliver expected items in the time allotted.
Change management and minimizing OOS will keep a project within the allotted contract hours. The client should keep a wish list of OOS items so that they can identify if a phase 2 of the project is necessary and implement further features at a later date.
4.) Ask Questions and Provide Feedback
The LIMS is an expansive piece of software. While the vendor implementation manager will be doing their best to train and educate the implementation team, you should always be willing to ask questions, no matter how silly they think they are.
Always provide feedback to the implementation manager. The more testing your team does, the more comfortable they become with the LIMS. This allows you and your team to have a better understanding of the system, ask more questions and improve your experience.
Remember, you know your internal processes and reporting best. The LIMS Vendor is working to incorporate what yout lab does into the LIMS. The more feedback and understanding the implementation manager has of those lab processes, the better the system implementation.
5.) Final Thoughts
Staying on target can be challenging sometimes. Working with the implementation manager, discussing expectations, hours, and deliverables can help keep a project on point. Very few people enjoy the money related discussions.