LabWare Templates, More Than an Out-of-the-Box Solution

Blog: LabWare Templates, More Than an Out-of-the-Box Solution

LabWare LIMS™, out of the box (OOTB), leverages the power of a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) and the knowledge within your lab, as well as your users. An essential part of LabWare LIMS is its templates. Don’t succumb to using default template solutions from your initial LabWare implementation when there are options to tweak those templates to tighten down user interaction while still providing efficiency and optimization to the users. Tweaking your templates suits them to your needs and adds in functionality that reduces risks. You can even have custom templates built to handle outward-facing source material!

It’s important to clarify here that for the purposes of this blog, templates refer to those within the LabWare instance, not to the Pharma Template (with a capital T) or any of the other Template Solutions LabWare offers.

Bring Out the Power of LabWare Templates

Whether you have unfulfilled needs or you are encountering issues within your system where users have too much subjective data entry power, template configurations could be made to correct these issues.

LabWare has done a good job with its delivered templates and the broader Template Solutions that bring new functions to your system, providing more capability within your LabWare LIMS. Just because they did a good job does not mean that those original templates couldn’t be better or more tailored to your tasks.

Default or Custom, We Can Make It Work for You!

The glory of modern lab informatics systems, LabWare, in particular, is that customization is the standard. No one solution exists for every application, but LabWare did a commendable job with their multiple available starting points from the Template solutions as well as those from a custom implementation. Nonetheless, our clients ask for additional common functionality improvements.

Consider these basic tweaks to templates that: 

  • Limit user entry abilities
    • Configure specific data types
      • Date, Text, or even HTML dialogs that include buttons… you could have that in your LabWare system!
      Default values
      • Reduce the redundancy of user entries with Default Values and allow for more seamless data entry.
      Field dependencies
      • A field is required to depend on the entry of a previous field. For example, select a Product from a list, and then the Grade will allow an entry. The Grade entry is based on the Product selection from the prior entry.
      Hidden fields
      • Hide fields from specific roles, or from everyone.
    • Template groups
      • Configure your groups to organize data on your templates in a more readable format.
  • Add versioning to your templates
    • Allows for more control over change requests and data integrity
    • Data searching becomes more detailed
      • See all the samples logged with different versions of the Sample Login Template

Template Solutions, or originally delivered or customized templates, provide a large swathe of functionality to your system. But, if you fail to use the basic customizations that LabWare built in its software, you are forgoing a helpful optimization boost that could even assist with preventative measures (such as limiting the user’s ability to enter bad or incorrect data and sample types) that can address unauthorized user access or incorrect data entries.

Webinar: LabWare LIMS Can Do THAT?

Templates and Mapping Fields Are More Alike Than You May Know

After you have considered or implemented the basic template tweaks mentioned in the previous section, you can begin to think about having custom templates created within LabWare. A common phrase that can be used to describe the process of custom template development would be “Field Mapping.”

For example, consider a project where the client had a new instrument they were testing out and were not fully committed to. To take full advantage of the new instrument by integrating it with LabWare, the fields coming from the new instrument needed to be mapped to the fields that were currently set up in their system. This required the creation of a template so that if they decided to use a different file type output or if a new firmware update provided a new format that fit their needs, then they would be able to update the template (the field mappings in this case) easily to fit the needs of the output file. Now this client is at the Validation stage of the project and planning on purchasing many more of the instruments to send to their other labs.

In the end, these “fancy” templates are, simply put, database tables. Where there are database tables, there are near-endless customization routes that can be leveraged to optimize your LabWare LIMS. New tables can be added to create templates for handling a new interface (ODBC connection, instrument, ERP system) to instruments or systems that your company has just integrated but still leave some room for the inevitable changes in that data source. 

Freshen Up Your LabWare Interface with Table Templates

Table Templates are a relatively recent addition to LabWare systems (LabWare 7 and LabWare 8). Table Templates empower users to create customization on any of the tables within the system, and these are commonly used to present data in a more meaningful and cohesive form. LabWare allows the customization of your database tables through their Table Master, but this lacks the presentation of organized data. The Table Templates bring out the basic template configurations that were previously reserved for Dynamic Data and allow them to be applied to any tables that you desire.

Imagine classifying data in your instrument table into neat tabs rather than having all your instrument data pushed out on one cluttered screen with no ability to order the fields or customize the data entry. Not only are tabs more appealing to your visual experience with LabWare, but also this provides a behind-the-scenes method of lab data management. You could then integrate specific reports that would gather relevant data based on the grouping you have defined in the templates and compare this data with later reports for analytical evaluations.

Table Templates give you flexibility with your dynamic data and opens up the possibility to optimize what users can see and do within LabWare. This unlocks more functionality within the system, while still preventing issues that stem from subjective user entries.

Are you encountering change requests that require data updates due to users having too much freedom for data entry? Limit those change requests with a template configuration! Is your company looking to upgrade an ERP or add new instruments? Set up a field mapping template to accommodate the diversity of files that you will have to work with. The possibilities within LabWare templates allow for many types of customizations, and every lab or manufacturing facility has different needs.

Would you like to explore the options for tweaking templates to gain efficiency and optimize your LabWare LIMS? Let us know how we can help.

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