The topic of the “cost of LIMS” or the “true cost of LIMS” or “saving costs with LIMS”, have all been previously discussed in a number of forums and mediums (blogs, white papers, webinars, videos, etc.). Interestingly, these discussions tend to focus on hard costs and measurable cost savings with only the occasional reference to non-monetary costs or qualitative measures. What has not been fully explored is the converse of this concept of the cost of implementing a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS). That is, what is the cost of not implementing a LIMS in a lab organization?
What does a LIMS cost?
We have previously broken down the costs of a LIMS for the three most prevalent platforms (Open Source, SaaS, Traditional). The cost factors associated with implementing a LIMS include:
- Software licenses (LIMS, Database, Instruments (sometimes))
- Optional modules (Instrument interfacing, stability, Instrument calibration, etc.)
- Infrastructure – servers, routers, disks, repeaters, etc.
- Peripherals – lap tops, mobile devices, barcode printers & readers, etc.
- Planning and selection services
- Implementation and customization services
- Training services
- Computer Systems Validation (CSV) services (if required)
- Support services
Not all of these cost factors are applicable for every LIMS solution. For example, the cost of a SaaS based LIMS solution would not generally include the need for servers or routers and a Freeware (Open Source) LIMS solution would not generally include the cost of LIMS licenses, unless you choose to make a donation.
Cost of Not implementing a LIMS
LIMS are implemented to solve a number of challenges facing a lab organization, its personnel, and its customers and information consumers (enterprise systems, collaborators, submitters, researchers, etc.). Choosing not to implement a LIMS can have serious ramifications which ultimately may have serious consequences for your operation.
Cost of Not Improving Efficiency and Productivity
One of the greatest benefits of implementing a LIMS, especially if you expend the time and effort to optimize your processes and workflows and then automate them in the LIMS, is the gains in efficiency and productivity that can be realized. These gains can manifest at both the individual lab worker level (technician, scientist, group leader, manager) and at the lab organization level itself. The cost to your lab organization if you don’t implement a LIMS, or do so such that no process or workflow improvements are made, can be significant and possibly even crippling over the long-term.
By not improving your processes and workflow and automating them, you will likely need to continually increase the personnel levels in your labs to handle the workload. Unfortunately, it is well known that over time a lab’s workload tends to increase while headcount remains frozen or just slightly increasing. The net result will be unacceptable turnaround times for lab samples which will have a cascading negative effect on the systems and processes that depend on your lab data and results for making decisions. Further, this will adversely affect the morale of your laboratory staff due to stress and work overload and may eventually lead to an increasing staff turnover rate in your organization.
Cost of Not Improving Product Quality
If your laboratory operation supports a manufacturing process, one of your main tasks is going to be performing the quality control testing that is required to ensure that the product(s) being produced meet the established specifications and requirements. It is critical to all manufacturing processes that the quality of the product be continually maintained, if not improved. Implementing a LIMS provides a number of opportunities to increase the quality and speed of the data being captured, manipulated, interpreted, and reported to the appropriate parties and/or enterprise manufacturing systems (ERP. MES, Etc.).
For example, by integrating your laboratory instruments to your LIMS you will speed up the testing process while removing sources of error like transcription errors. Therefore, more accurate data and information will be available faster to your enterprise manufacturing systems (which can also be integrated to your LIMS) enabling quicker adjustments to the manufacturing process, thereby, maintaining and increasing quality.
Conversely, if your lab elects to NOT implement a LIMS and processes the sample and data manually, more uuncertainty and error will be introduced into the data and results which will be produced slower and slower. The cost of NOT implementing the LIMS can, therefore, be measured in lost batches or the cost of excessive reworking of intermediaries. Additionally, poor quality will drive a loss of reputation and possibly lead to the shutdown of the manufacturing operation.
Do you know how much a LIMS would cost to support your lab organization? Do you know what NOT implementing a LIMS will cost your lab organization in the areas of Productivity, Efficiency, and Quality? What other areas will be adversely affected by NOT implementing a LIMS?