Countering Master Data Creation Fears in LabVantage LIMS

LabVantage LIMS Master Data

Are you about to undertake the creation of master data in a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS)? The dread that comes with knowing that it’ll be laborious and potentially frustrating can cause users to be wary. This can be true if you have to create master data templates in LIMS—but it does not have to be. A crucial step in a LabVantage LIMS implementation is the set up of master data in the system. This master data drives the behavior of the components within LabVantage LIMS, ranging from batch and sample lifecycle to how a user enters in data.

Many companies find themselves overwhelmed when figuring out why should they create master data, what to do, or even how to start when it comes to laying the foundations of the LIMS solution. There can be multiple factors to account for, and fear of the unknown cause users to shy away from trying. When this occurs, companies can either designate a subject matter expert (SME), or hire a consultant/specialist to aid in master data creation.

With the proper preparation, creating the master data in LabVantage LIMS pays off, with efficient laboratory management and processes. There are really only a few steps to consider:

  • Clearly define the organization’s end goal, result, or desired outcome by researching and developing business needs and practices
  • Prepare the tools in your arsenal—ensure that users have the proper knowledge and support to take on the task before integrating business practices
  • Testing, testing, testing, and feedback! Run through the prototype and gain the opinion of others on the material

Although taking on master data creation can be a daunting task, it can be managed with appropriate planning, preparation, testing, and training.

Watch our webinar: Thinking about your LabVantage LIMS Master Data

The Role of Master Data

One might ask, what is the role of master data in LabVantage LIMS? Master data is the information that needs to be in place in the LIMS in order to use the system as intended. It is the foundational templates that guide the behavior and work flow of items in the system. These templates provide a framework for uniformity and consistency in data management. Some effort does need to be put into understanding and creating the templates initially, but once it’s done, each component will work simply together.

A feature of data management in LabVantage LIMS is version control. Objects in the system can have one of four different statuses: provisional, current, active, or expired. The provisional status is used when the object is in draft form, current is what the system uses as the template when creating data in the LIMS, active is a prior version that was once current but no longer is used as the template, and expired denotes a template that is no longer useable. Editing and updating any version-controlled object can require an approval step in LabVantage LIMS. Audit trails are another feature that provide traceability, noting the user and the reason the action was performed. Both of these features provide proper documentation and security around data management in the system.

Researching and Developing Business Practices for Your LabVantage LIMS

Once you’ve purchased a LIMS, you probably have a general idea of what you want from it. All LIMS solutions handle batch and sample lifecycles; data retrieval; interfacing between data, instruments, and systems; reagent inventory; scheduling; security/auditing trails; and much more. One of the pluses to implementing a lab informatics system is the streamlining of workflows and improving overall efficiency within the lab.

White Paper: "Introduction to LabVantage LIMS Master Data"

Now comes the time to hone in on the concept of what your organization needs from your LabVantage LIMS. A key point to contemplate, even before creating the master data, is the desired outcome for the organization. In other words, what are you trying to achieve with data management in LIMS? Whether it’s taking a paper process and moving it to an electronic system, refining business practices, or scrapping existing workflows and creating new processes within the LIMS, it is important to be clear about the desired goals.

Once the goal is formed, communication is critical. Make sure that input from the affected parties, ranging from stakeholders and upper management to lab staff, IT, and potentially manufacturing is considered when decisions are made. Being transparent and inclusive will enable people in the organization to feel more receptive about the upcoming changes and open to learning new processes that are housed in a lab informatics system.

Integrating Business Practices with LabVantage LIMS

The next steps are to figure out the best way to set up laboratory data within LabVantage LIMS so that the end product supports the defined business practices. There are a variety of structured data types to create, such as, but not limited to: products, test methods, instruments, and reagents. Note that not all structured data types will be required, and the amount that companies require will vary from one to another. Some firms decide they want to use a select few modules, while others decide they want to use all of the modules LabVantage has to offer. Each component of structured data relates to a module or item in LabVantage LIMS and controls the workflow in the system.

More information about how master data is set up and defined can be found in our white paper. A full understanding of how the levels interact with one another will allow users to integrate business needs with LIMS in the most optimal way.

White Paper: "Introduction to LabVantage Workflows"

Conducting Testing, Gathering Feedback, and Demonstrating the System

A solid understanding of business needs, process gaps, and desired improvements provides direction for the data management structure in LabVantage LIMS. After constructing a blueprint for how the master data will be created, build and evaluate the design in a testing environment. This is the point where any bugs and issues that may arise should be remedied. Upon completion of the model, demonstrate the proposed LIMS processes in the testing environment for key stakeholders. If any feedback or suggestions arise, take them into consideration and potentially revise or improve the processes.

Training end users should follow the finalization of the model, but before implementation of any changes in the production environment. An organization will contain a wide range of people who may be classified as pioneers and open to change, but it is those who are skeptical of change that should be addressed. Reassurance should be given that any process change is done to improve quality, efficiency, and productivity. To ease concerns, conduct organizational change management in the form of training, workshops, and question and answer sessions. The creation of training materials or work instructions may help to build goodwill.   

There will be some trials and tribulations, but it is extremely rewarding in the end if you have laid the groundwork up front.

Read our white paper: How to Plan for Your LabVantage LIMS Implementation 

The consultants at CSols Inc. possess an expansive knowledge set and deep experience in figuring out the best way to integrate business needs and practices with your LabVantage LIMS solution. CSols provides diverse services, including data integrity, systems auditing, planning, configuration, enhancements, and validation.

Have you got a favorite tip for creating master data in your LabVantage LIMS? Tell us about it in the comments.

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