LIMS Consulting – Big vs. Boutique

No matter where you are on your laboratory informatics journey, it is likely that at some point you will need assistance.  Perhaps you will need assistance with selecting the right Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) or implementing your chosen LIMS.  Maybe you have had your LIMS for quite some time and are looking to make improvements or upgrade and need help.  Regardless, there will be a time when your internal resources and knowledgebase will be insufficient to meet your goals.  When this happens, where will you go to get assistance?  Will you seek out help from a large IT consulting company or will you opt for working with a small, boutique style consulting company?  At the end of the day, Size Matters, right?

While not always true, when it comes to LIMS consulting the size of the consulting company you elect to engage with does matter, but not necessarily in the way you would think.  Your first inclination might be that “bigger is better”.  A larger consulting company will have more resources, better geographical coverage, and will be more likely to be on your approved supplier list.  But in the world of LIMS consulting, the opposite is often true.  Let’s explore why.

Expertise & Experience

Large IT consulting companies focus their services and staffing plans on larger market spaces with higher levels of services demand, not LIMS.  Remember, LIMS is a very small market space compared to other IT spaces.  So while the large IT consulting company with have more IT resources, do they really have the resources with the LIMS expertise and experience you need?  Not necessarily, only a tiny percentage of their workforce will have any LIMS experience.  Boutique LIMS consulting companies, while having far fewer consultants on staff, all will have LIMS expertise that will bring a high value to your LIMS project.

Let’s take a look at the Project Manager role for your LIMS project, as an example.  A large IT consulting company will most likely offer you a PMP certified project manager for your LIMS project.  The proposed resource will have been highly trained in PMI-based project management, but is PMP certification all that a LIMS Project Manager needs to be successful and add value to a LIMS project?  The answer is No.

To be successful and add value to your LIMS project, your LIMS Project Manager must not only be a highly trained project manager, they must have expertise in LIMS, IT, your Domain (lab type, industry), and any applicable regulatory needs as well as extensive hands-on experience with successfully managing LIMS projects.  They will then, and only then, be able to effectively develop and execute your LIMS project plan and help facilitate the success of your LIMS project.

Watch Webinar: Making Sure Your Project Manager has the Right Stuff


While the resources from a large IT consulting company may be conveniently located geographically in relation to your location, the proliferation of solid, secure remote communications and connectivity negates the need for your LIMS consultant to be physically at your site 100% of the time to be effective.  Remember, LIMS endeavors tend to be projects with a distinct beginning and end.  LIMS projects, as opposed to LIMS administration and support, are rarely perpetual, on-site engagements, like many of the outsourcing engagements that large IT companies are geared up for.

Additionally, the nature of LIMS projects (selection, implementation, upgrade, enhancement, etc.) does not require the LIMS consultants to be on-site, engaging with stakeholders at all time.  So the physical proximity of the LIMS consultant to your site is no longer as important as it used to be.

Approved Supplier

It is true that a large IT consulting company may already be on your preferred supplier’s list, thus making engaging with them easier. But like much in life, the easier path is not necessarily the best way to go.  Sure the provider on your preferred supplier list will be easier to hire, but will they really be the right resource?  By expending some extra effort, you will be able to engage an effective, high value, LIMS consultant from a specialized, boutique LIMS consulting company not on “the list”.  The specialty skill set and knowledgebase of LIMS consultants make attaining a waiver or exception from purchasing a relatively painless task.

Do you believe that “bigger is better” when it comes to LIMS consulting?

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2 responses to “LIMS Consulting – Big vs. Boutique”

  1. Corne Nous says:

    I really like this article.
    I know from experience that the larger companies indeed have personnel that is well educated and very usefull in certain specialities. Howeever they often lack knowladge of the lab. The control of this personnel and the preparation of use cases, requirements etc. often relies on people who understand the laboratory business but also understand the IT part such as SQL and the macro routines for building reports and calculations. Thus I would try to have a combination of these persons.

  2. Mukunth says:

    This is a very well articulated content. I am sure the industry will benefit.

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