Who are the Top LIMS Vendors?

Top LIMS Vendors - CSols Inc.Whether you are looking for your first LIMS or replacing your current LIMS, you will eventually find yourself trying to determine which LIMS vendors are the top vendors so you can evaluate their solutions.  However, determining who the Top LIMS Vendors are is not so simple.  There really is not a list somewhere on the net that will accurately provide you this information.  Why is this?  One good reason is that there tends to be quite a bit of churn in the LIMS market with vendors entering and leaving the market on a regular basis.  However, the main reason is that there are many factors to consider when trying to determine who the Top LIMS Vendors are, some of which we will explore in this blog.

Multi-purpose LIMS vs. Purpose-built LIMS

In order to satisfy the needs of potential customers, LIMS vendors have taken two primary solution approaches.  These are Multi-purpose LIMS and Purpose-built LIMS.

Approach 1:  Multi-purpose LIMS

The fist approach is the development of multi-purpose, broad featured LIMS that can be configured and customized to fit most customers’ needs regardless of industry or lab type.  The flexibility and the plethora of additional added-value modules (Stability, Inventory, etc.) that are offered with these systems make them very attractive to many organizations.  The trade-off here is that these

LIMS may require a considerable investment of time and money to implement them to exactly fit a customer’s needs.  This, however, has been addressed and mitigated by these vendors by offering LIMS templates (i.e. Pharmaceutical QC, Biobanking, Clinical Diagnostics, etc.) that can be used as an implementation starting point for specific industries and lab types.

Approach 2:  Purpose-built LIMS

The second approach is the development of a purpose-built LIMS where the LIMS is designed for a particular type of lab and industry.  By narrowing their target market, the solutions offered by the LIMS vendors taking this approach will provide specialized and deep functionality in that particular space.  Configuration and customization may still be required but not necessarily at the level of a multi-purpose LIMS.  The trade-off here is that the purpose-built LIMS may not be a good fit for your organization if you are not in that particular space and some of their internal constructs may not be as flexible as you need.  A good example of a purpose-built LIMS is a Forensic LIMS or a Water Quality LIMS.

So depending on whether you are looking for a multi-purpose, broad featured LIMS or a purpose-built LIMS, the list of the Top LIMS Vendors will be different.

LIMS Vendor and System Stability

When attempting to determine the Top LIMS Vendors it is always critical to consider the stability and viability of each vendor and system.  Factors to consider include:

  • Company Size
    • Revenue
    • # of Employees
  • Years in Business
  • Financial Stability / Profitability
  • # of Systems Successfully Implemented
  • # of Users
  • IT Technology / Architecture Used

However, each customer will have its own “appetite for risk”.  Perhaps your company culture is oriented towards gaining a competitive advantage by being early adopters of technology.  If so, then you should look for a new, young LIMS vendor who’s LIMS, while virtually untested, offers new, exciting features and benefits.  Or perhaps your company culture is particularly risk adverse.  Then you would only consider LIMS vendors who have been in business and profitable for over a decade or more who use tried and true technology.  Or maybe you are somewhat in the middle and the idea of being “a big fish in a smaller pond” appeals to you and the use of newer but not “bleeding edge” technology is acceptable.

So depending on your viewpoint and culture, the list of the Top LIMS Vendors will be different.

LIMS Vendor Services

It is inevitable that with a software system as complex as a modern LIMS, you will eventually run into some glitch or issue with the software.  Your internal LIMS administrator or IT department may be able to handle issue triage and some minor fixes but resolving bigger issues and bugs will require you to get help from your LIMS vendor.  Therefore, the availability and quality of the LIMS vendor’s support staff, as well as how an escalation of issues is handled by the LIMS vendor, will be a large factor in determining the Top LIMS Vendors.

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Even the most Out-Of-Box (OOB) oriented LIMS which advertise virtual “plug and play” use will require some configuration and setup.  Additionally, most LIMS solutions require considerable configuration and may even require some customization to satisfy your needs.  Therefore, the number, quality, and availability of the LIMS vendor’s implementation staff will be a large factor in determining the Top LIMS Vendors.  The significance of this factor, however, can be minimized if 3rd party resources and subject matter experts can be sourced and utilized to supplement the vendor’s staff.

Satisfying LIMS Requirements

The most important factor to assess when compiling your Top LIMS Vendors list is whether or not their LIMS solution can satisfy your needs and requirements.  Of course, making this determination requires your organization to have fully explored, documented, and prioritized your needs and requirements.  Doing so to the degree necessary to truly differentiate between LIMS vendors and their LIMS solutions often requires the utilization of specialized, subject matter experts with extensive LIMS experience who can assist you in this endeavor.

→ Related Reading: Laboratory Informatics Implementation Planning – Don’t Forget!

So at the end of the day, determining who the Top LIMS Vendors are is not a simple task.  There is no simple list that you can use to look this up and even if there was, who the Top LIMS Vendors are for you and your organization will be dependent on many factors that all must be taken into consideration.

Have you determined who you believe the Top LIMS Vendors are?  Did you assess all the factors discussed above in making your determination?  What other factors did you assess in compiling your Top LIMS Vendors list?

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7 responses to “Who are the Top LIMS Vendors?”

  1. John Jones says:

    This is a good editorial article. One case example I would point out that potentially throws a spanner into the works would be the LIMS that was once owned by Perkin Elmer. When you look at the vendor and product stability, PE would have gotten all the high marks. However, the LIMS is no longer. PE sold it off to a couple of developers who have serviced the labworks lims for many years. So the PE lims is now part of a small, startup company. This will change the perception of stability literally over night.

    There are many factors that affect stability of a LIMS as a viable product and many times the old assumptions will let you down. Don’t think that because the company is big and rich that you are safe. They are big and rich because they do things that are in their financial interests as we all do. Some are just more self centric than others.

    • siteadmin says:

      You raise some good points John with respect to the PE LIMS story. There are no guarantees but I would argue that smaller LIMS companies come and go on a much more frequent basis compared to those from larger, financially stable companies.

      • John Jones says:

        I have not kept track too much of all the comings and goings of LIMS products but Shawn Douglas who manages the limswiki does provide notes on the comings and goings. So here is the link to all the LIMS vendors, past and present: http://www.limswiki.org/index.php/LIMS_vendor

        For all the tons of lims vendors and products on the market, there really does not seem to be that much by way of failures. Just look at the notes section next to each vendor.

        On the other hand, I can name a number of large vendors that have bailed one or more times on LIMS:

        1. HP
        2. Beckman
        3. PE (twice)
        4. Instron (years ago)
        5. Shell Oil

        And all of those have had a huge negative impact from their failures. I guess I would argue that large public companies pose the greatest risk since LIMS is at the bottom of their list of strategic money making ventures.

        Not saying that starlims is at risk but what is Abbott doing selling LIMS? If I have to lay odds, my bet is that starlims goes up for sale in the not too distant future. Starlims is a great lims and has a great history but Abbott is no lims company and they make tons of money from drugs. How does a LIMS help them with their core business? If I were the CEO working for my investors, I would dump it but do it in a way so that it looks like I am not dumping it. That’s the corporate way.

  2. Eladio Mora says:

    I share what was said by John Jones regarding Perkin Elmer (PE). I had the opportunity to work for several years (1996-2001) as a LIMS Consultant in the company Corporacion Cientifica Venezolana, C.A. (CCV), who was the exclusive distributor of the SQL*LIMS product for Latin America (Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela) and Curacao, and our clients (in areas as diverse as Petrochemicals, Pharmaceutical, Manufacturing, Environmental, etc.) most considered it a comprehensive LIMS and very flexible.

    PE subsequently split and AppliedBiosystems (AB) was in charge of SQL*LIMS, who kept many of its strengths and add new ones. And, through local companies in Venezuela, we continue to offer consulting services to our customers to complement your SQL*LIMS with functionality based on ISO/IEC 17025.

    Finally, AB sold the SQL*LIMS product to LabVantage company who joined it to yours LIMS, achieving a LIMS with high added value and very flexible, which should be taken into account when evaluating a LIMS, in my opinion.

    • siteadmin says:

      You are correct Eladio. SQL*LIMS was a highly successful LIMS for many years and was eventually sold to LabVantage LIMS. And I believe their are still many organizations running SQL*LIMS today. As I pointed out to John, there are no guarantees but in doing due diligence factors including the size and financial stability of the LIMS vendor should be taken into account when determining who the Top LIMS Vendors for you are.

  3. Good article. The general point is definitely accurate: the top vendors will be different for you depending on niche and a myriad of factors.
    However I have to agree with John Jones and Eladio Mora in terms of Churn on small vs big LIMS companies.
    Having worked for a small LIMS product which has been chugging along almost unnoticed for more than 20 years due to its specialization on Metallurgy and Foundries, to me it seems LIMS is a space in which smaller companies do have a place and can remain stable more often than not.
    Templates only go so far and factors like local compliance and special niche requirements are also often a factor which keep a lot of the products listed on limswiki.org alive despite the comparatively low amount of global-installs.

  4. Kevin Cramer says:

    Good read, thanks for this article. Multi-purpose LIMS solutions are becoming increasingly popular, with smaller and smaller companies popping up now with their own variation of LIMS software. The ones that really thrive though are the niche companies.

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