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General Laboratory Informatics FAQs

What is a LIMS?

A Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) is specialized software that performs sample management, lot management, testing protocols, and release of products and materials, and can also facilitate project management, experiments, stability testing, standards and reagents management, and instrument calibration and periodic maintenance.

What does a LIMS do?

Among many other things, a LIMS provides sample management and tracking, results reporting, scheduling, certificate of analysis/certificate of conformance generation, inventory and laboratory workflow management, regulatory compliance, quality assurance and control, reporting, and label/barcode generation.

How much does a LIMS cost?

How much a LIMS costs will vary depending on how much customization is done and the number of other systems with which the LIMS will interface. Additional costs include initial validation, number of licenses required, and infrastructure.

Does my lab need a LIMS?

If your staff spends a significant portion of their time on manual results entry, sample tracking, and reporting and these manual processes are beginning to produce errors that necessitate rework, then yes, your lab will probably benefit from a LIMS.

How do I make sure I select the right LIMS?

If your organization does not have several experienced LIMS users, or if your IT support is not experienced in LIMS implementations, the best way to make an informed choice is to hire a third-party experienced with LIMS selection due to the high cost of implementation and business impact. A LIMS selection engagement will save you money, time, and effort and will help greatly in picking the best-fit LIMS solution for your organization.

How long does a LIMS implementation take?

All LIMS implementation projects have different time frames. Factors that affect the project duration are how ready the client is to have the implementation begin, the organizational preparation for the change, number of labs and locations, the amount of configuration vs customization needed, the availability and onboarding of client resources, how the legacy data is migrated, the number of systems or instruments that need to be integrated, and whether the system needs to be validated.

What happens during a LIMS implementation?

A project plan will be provided by your LIMS Project Leader to outline the steps your team should expect before the project begins. User requirements, governance, change management, and manufacturing/operations use of the LIMS are also taken into consideration. Then the build/configuration takes place along with master data and use case configuration. Next is the testing phase (functional, user acceptance) and master data load. The implementation phase includes system training, SOP preparation and training, then the final master data load. Lastly, go-live occurs with hyper care support as needed.

What systems can be integrated with a LIMS?

A LIMS can interface with manufacturing resource planning (MRP) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, chromatography data systems (CDSs), balances and many other types of laboratory instruments, and Periodic Maintenance and Calibration systems. LIMS interfaces to electronic data management systems (EDMSs) and quality management systems (QMSs) also can be quite beneficial.

Advanced Laboratory Informatics FAQs

How do I know if I need a LIMS, ELN, LES, or all of these?

The answer will depend on the needs of your unique laboratory. A LIMS is typically used in a manufacturing or quality control environment, an ELN is frequently chosen for research and development settings, and an LES is found most commonly in Quality Control. Request this webinar to dig deeper and learn what additional information will help guide your selection.

How do I justify the cost of a LIMS to my boss/the business?

A LIMS will pay for itself within 18 months to 2 years, depending on what functionality is built into it at the onset. However, putting the forecasted return on investment (ROI) into a format to win over the decision maker is the hard part. To help, CSols has outlined documentation you should provide in our blog about how to justify a LIMS. If you need additional help presenting this information, CSols can team up with you. We want your lab to implement a LIMS successfully just as much as you do!

How do I determine return on investment (ROI) after a LIMS Implementation?

Return on investment can be calculated by taking the actual savings in terms of analyst man-hours saved looking for data and testing transcription, increased lab throughput, and cost of quality from lab errors, etc., from an implementation. These are just some examples; many more can be found.

How do I get buy-in from the lab, IT, and management?

Securing stakeholder buy-in involves a combination of effective project leadership, communication, and organizational change management to clearly demonstrate the potential value of the informatics project and help everyone involved to understand what improvements, benefits, and organizational synergies will result.

How many resources are needed for a LIMS implementation?

The answer will vary based on organizational size; however, the following organizational contributors generally are required: one or more representatives from stakeholders, IT, quality, lab(s) subject matter experts (SMEs), manufacturing unit(s) SMEs (if applicable), and project management. If Agile methodology scrums are used, the organization should provide a product owner, scrum master, development team, and, again, stakeholders.

Can a full LIMS implementation be done remotely?

Yes, it can be done and is being done currently by many large and small organizations. The keys are leadership, having the right team members, and using the right communication tools.

What responsibilities are the lab’s during an informatics project, and what will CSols do?

The organization will provide the implementation team with proper scoping, requirements, and a lead from the business [Product Owner(s)]. CSols will translate the requirements into actionable User Stories; create workflows; and ultimately develop, test, train on, and deliver your system.

Can I buy LabWare LIMS and have CSols implement it?

Yes, absolutely. You purchased it, it’s your software, and therefore, it’s your decision who you want to work on it. CSols routinely performs LabWare implementation and validation work for several industries.

What’s the difference between configuring and customizing a LIMS?

Configuring is taking the commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software and modifying (configuring) it to meet your needs. Customization is required when there are gaps in the COTS software that will require changes or additions to base code to meet the organization’s requirements.

How do I decide whether a cloud-based or on premises solution is right for my lab?

If you want to have the utmost security and control over your data, on premises is the best choice. A cloud-based solution can eliminate the cost of maintaining and running IT infrastructure yet provide data security and storage. Both options can work; the choice of which is a matter of organizational preference. 

Can your team implement and validate a cloud-based LIMS?

Yes. A LIMS in a cloud environment like Amazon Web Services (AWS) can certainly be validated used existing tools. The key is understanding the infrastructure of the cloud-based platform and validating the LIMS to current good manufacturing practices (GMP) standards for security, data integrity, and U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part 11 requirements.

How do I pass a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) audit?

Passing an FDA audit is not difficult if you audit yourself internally, or use a third-party auditor, to a level typically one tier above the current level of FDA inspection. Then remediate the gaps found using define, measure, analyze, improve, and control (DMAIC) or a similar process.

What functionalities are available for LIMS data management?

Modern LIMS systems have advanced search and presentation capabilities to enhance critical data-driven decision making. Intuitive user-definable dashboards display meaningful data in tables and graphs for instant oversight of laboratory activities and results.