Taking Advantage of LabVantage LIMS Workflows

LabVantage LIMS Workflows

LabVantage Workflow Designer is a LabVantage LIMS version 8 module that allows users to divide a complex laboratory process into manageable units of work to drive automation throughout the system. The module consists of functionality that guides users through the execution of predefined operations called Tasks. Samples and other laboratory data flow through the workflow, providing intuitive and visual feedback on the state of the sample. The users can clearly see what stage of processing the sample is in, and be alerted if there are bottlenecks. 

LabVantage LIMS workflows can help improve productivity and efficiency by guiding users through routine processes while ensuring that lab work is completed in a controlled, consistent manner. Further, because the use of workflows removes many of the human decisions from a repetitive procedure, workflow automation limits manual interactions and helps to reduce human error. This blog post describes situations in which LabVantage LIMS workflows could be beneficial to your lab.

Workflow Functionality vs. LIMS Functionality in LabVantage

Out-of-the-box (OOTB), LabVantage LIMS already has a built-in sample management mechanism where a slide, tube, or any other type of sample can be processed. Changes in the sample status and chain of custody occur as the user manually executes the LIMS procedure. The user must know what steps to do next and which menus to choose for samples, results, and transactions throughout the various stages of the process.

However, this kind of competency with LabVantage LIMS can require extensive system knowledge and time-consuming training. With the new functionality in LabVantage 8.3, workflows can be configured to automatically guide users through even the most complex procedures and protocols.

Workflows can reduce human error, increase efficiency, and improve quality. However, LabVantage does not allow processes, such as batching a group of samples within a specific method, to be controlled by the OOTB LIMS functionality and workflow functionality at the same time.

To get the most out of your Labvantage LIMS, be sure to train users about when, where, and how to access batch or sample information outside the context of a batch workflow.

One of the best ways to maximize your system’s value is to apply the workflow functionality to the areas and types of procedures with which it works best; workflows can even be added to a user’s dashboard for quick access. The scenarios listed below provide best practice examples.

Scenarios Where Workflow Functionality Is Ideal

  • Regulations require tasks to be executed in a fixed order to be in compliance
  • LIMS processes are well-defined in an SOP and within the system
    • For example, the procedure for capturing a pH measurement is optimized and the methods, tasks, and branching or conditional logic steps are already defined in the LIMS
  • Expensive reagents or equipment are involved and process execution enforcement is required
  • Error reduction when working with a complex system
  • Difficult procedures or complex workflows with a high risk for errors need to be used
  • Training time reduction for required routine testing, so less experienced users become more productive faster
  • Additional rigor is required to ensure that processes are performed with the highest level of consistency, repeatability, and reliability
  • Standardized processes are required across your industry
  • LIMS has become too complex for end-users to operate efficiently
PCS 55 LabVantage LIMS Workflows

Scenarios Where Workflow Functionality Is NOT Ideal

  • A single sample type is not always processed the same way; a blood sample is accessioned differently, depending on its origin and arrival time
  • A procedure has many different ways it can be executed; using a different model of an instrument requires the use of a different calculation to generate the final result
  • There are many different possibilities in a branching workflow, when you could fill in the following blanks with more than two or three possibilities each: if the interim result is greater than ___, then you should ___
  • Process logic has many different exceptions or the exceptions are not quantifiable or difficult to capture
  • A process is open-ended
  • LIMS users need to perform tasks with variable steps to complete an analysis; analytical method development
  • A process is low risk; a process should be performed often enough that the benefits of LabVantage Workflow configuration outweigh the costs (resources, time, planning, budget) associated with configuration 
  • Laboratory processes and procedures are still being optimized and could change frequently
  • Tasks involve complex LabVantage LIMS pages or interfaces; tasks with pages consisting of multiple panels, numerous tabs, dialog boxes, or other widgets are not as compatible with Workflow because the logic is not as straightforward and intuitive

To maximize productivity and value, make sure to apply LabVantage LIMS Workflows in the right scenarios. Otherwise, the time and cost required to implement a Workflow process can outweigh the benefits of its use.

Webinar: "Maximizing LabVantage LIMS Value and Minimizing Implementation Risks"

Workflows in LabVantage LIMS are created and administered via the Workflows tramline on the System Admin site map. LabVantage 8.3 delivers example workflows including 80+ tasks, 30+ steps, and numerous connectors. These pre-configured parts make Workflows a powerful tool for enhancing productivity in any laboratory.

How have you used LabVantage LIMS Workflows in your lab? Tell us below in the comments.

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