As clients go through the process of getting approval for laboratory informatics purchases, CSols experts often field questions like, “How much does a LIMS cost?” or “Is an ELN worth the investment?” or “What is the ROI for LIMS?”
The answer to these questions will change for every client based on their business goals and starting point. We know that “it depends” is the last thing you want to hear when you’re trying to get approval for a substantial software purchase, but the answers do, unfortunately, depend.
Fortunately, there are some things any lab or project team can document to build a strong case to support such a sizable capital investment. Start by capturing some metrics and documenting the current state. Complaints about pain points will already be well-known, but documenting costs and wasteful practices will bolster your argument for a LIMS or ELN that can address those pain points.
CSols’ proprietary methodology leverages workflow maps, but any methodology will be useful as long as you capture the following things to support your LIMS or ELN purchase justification.
Before or during the workflow documentation process, find out how much often-used methods cost to run or what the hourly cost is to a particular piece of equipment. Having accurate cost information is crucial to proving the ROI once your LIMS or ELN goes live.
Analytical services labs and in-process testing labs are often less concerned about how much a test costs to execute and more concerned with how quickly they can produce results. If this is the case for your lab, document the current state turnaround time (TAT) for your most-used analyses. Knowing the overall TAT is a good start, but if you can capture how much time each sub-task takes to complete, it will be easier to identify a LIMS or ELN functionality that can bring relative time savings.
Often, clients “don’t know what they don’t know,” meaning they have no idea how many keystroke errors people are making or how often numbers get transposed. Since it is difficult to capture these errors in manual processes, it can be challenging to quantify the value of the data integrity improvements that are inherent in LIMS or ELN. Even if you can’t count the daily keystroke errors in the lab, you can document quality risks that are part of your current practices. To put a dollar value on such items, expect to gather data from multiple departments.
Once you create your current-state process maps, the first thing to identify and document is waste that a LIMS or ELN can eliminate. Knowing where bottlenecks and other problems lie makes it easier to determine the best solution for removing them—sometimes that solution is not LIMS or ELN, but often LIMS or ELN functionality can significantly reduce costs per analysis and turnaround time and greatly improve data quality and integrity.
Next, use your process documentation to identify data integrity risks like those in the process R&D lab, above. Be sure to capture the cascading risks associated with potential sources of error when documenting the impacts these risks have on your processes and, ultimately, your finished goods.
If you’d like to learn more how CSols’ laboratory and strategic experience can help you document your current state, send us a message here.
Did your team perform any process and data and information flow mapping as part of your LIMS or ELN implementation? Do you wish you had? Please leave a comment and let us know!