The best LIMS is the one you don’t use

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Change is hard for everyone, whether it is in your personal life or your work life and lets not even talk about that video game called Second Life (SL).  Change is good if you are getting rid of work, pointless if you are substituting one set of work for another and bad if it adds more work to your daily life in the lab.

I have been implementing LIMS since 1992.  Some of the LIMS were custom built while all of the ones since 1997 have been COTS (commercial off the shelf) for all you non-government types.  In all that time, the most important aspect to LIMS acceptance has been end-user acceptance.  While management is the one who pays for the LIMS and needs the data intelligence a LIMS provides, it is always the lab personnel who really have to feed the LIMS on a minute by minute, hour by hour and day by day basis.  You can’t get reports out if you can’t get the data in.

Recently, we have been bringing a number of customers to the “Go Live” state for their LIMS.  I thought I would share a common statement that has almost become our motto… “The best LIMS is the one you don’t use”.

full automationWhy would I say that, especially as a LIMS vendor?  Well because it sounds funny and because it is true.  We have consistently found that users hate change and implementing a LIMS can be a BIG change.  To obviate this obstruction to LIMS implementations, we have implemented automation processes that seek to remove work the users do and replace it with automated processes to the point that they spend very little time inside the LIMS.  Of course automated instrument interfaces are just the beginning but one of the biggest benefits for a high throughput laboratory.  Automated sample login is also a very, very big time saver.  We have even implemented automated expert systems that perform automated data analysis based upon rules provided by expert data analysts.  There are many other automated processes that can be addressed but the main point here is to automate and get rid of manual labor as much as possible.

In summary, a great implementation will focus on reducing the work of the users of the LIMS and it will seek to automate processes that eliminate or at least reduce greatly, the need for lab workers to have to interact with the LIMS or use it in any way.  If you eliminate their need to get into the LIMS you have not introduced change that is naturally resisted.  If much of the user’s work is automated, then they have little need to get into the LIMS, therefore… “The best LIMS is the one you don’t use”.

I intend to continue to promote this concept with as many customers as possible seeing as how it reduces natural resistance to change, improves LIMS investment ROI and really makes implementation smoother and less costly.  Personally, I find myself better able to deal with automation rather than retraining the users and they like it better too since it reduces their work.  This leaves them with time to read my blogs ;-).

3 Comments

  1. Hi,

    I’m interested with your review about LIMS. I know about LIMS from an internet, and there are so many LIMS products out there. Can you suggest me what is the largest LIMS products (in term of usage), and LIMS vendor in South East Asia ?

    Regards,

  2. There are no large LIMS vendors. Most all of them are relatively small software companies compared to the large software companies. None of them do over $100M per year.

    However, the largest players in the market place are:

    http://www.lablynx.com
    http://www.labware.com
    http://www.Thermo.com
    http://www.starlims.com

    There are tons other companies but these can all provide LIMS in Asia.

    I represent LabLynx and we provide our LIMS via a hosted model ( http://www.weblims.com )

  3. Joseph Denario says:

    That’s absolutely right. Making your system automated may lead you to save lots of time and hence you can utilize the spare time in more productive things. Its been quite a long for me while i am using Omega 11( http://khemia.com/omega-11/) Khemia Software LIMS system and it is giving me very good results.

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