It’s the question of the ages and one, as Informatics Experts, we hear all the time, “What is the Best LIMS?” The customer is sometimes frantic. Sometimes they try and pull the “Barbara Walters” signature phrase, “Just between you and me…” they plead. They might even beg. Well, finally after all this time, we are going to tell you which the Best LIMS is. The answer is, wait for it…wait for it …“Depends”. That’s right, it Depends.
Not the answer you were looking for, but the only truthful answer despite what various LIMS sales people will tell you. At last look, there are over 40 commercial LIMS vendors active in the industry today. In addition to this, there are quite a number of Open Source and/or “Freeware” (We’ll address this another time) LIMS available. There has been talk for years that the LIMS industry is going to consolidate; it has to. There is only so much market, so it is impossible for all these vendors to survive. But what do we see? Every year a few LIMS companies disappear but without fail there are always more to take their place. How can this be? Because the Best LIMS for a customer just Depends.
Selecting the Best LIMS for your laboratory depends on a multitude of factors or what most in the industry would term your business needs and system requirements. Some examples of these include:
- What type of lab are you running? QA/QC? R&D?
- What type of science are you performing? Analytical Testing? Genomics?
- Do you need to interface to other systems? ELN? ERP? MES?
- Will you be integrating to instruments or instrument systems?
- Are you in a regulated environment? FDA? GMP?
- Do you have an IT infrastructure to support the LIMS?
- Do you have staff to support the LIMS?
When you answer all these questions and several more then you can determine what the Best LIMS is for your organization.
This process can appear very intimidating, if not downright impossible, but do not despair. There are informatics consulting organizations that can help. When evaluating consultancies to assist in the LIMS selection process for your laboratory, you should ensure that they are:
- Experts in LIMS and LIMS selection (get references)
- Domain experts (i.e. your industry and your type of lab)
- IT experts
- Regulatory experts (if in a regulated environment)
- LIMS vendor neutral
They should also have a proven LIMS Selection process
So tell us how you selected your LIMS and if you were happy with your eventual choice. Did you follow a structured process? Did you gather and document your needs and requirements? If you had to do it over again would you do anything differently?