Where to Start When Consolidating LIMS Technologies

LIMS Consolidation

If you’re reading this blog post, you’ve already concluded that you need to simplify your informatics footprint. We know that maintenance of the different systems and instances can grow out of control and be a logistical nightmare. Not to mention the siloed information within those systems that keep your organization from making the best business decisions. So, consolidation of your laboratory information management system (LIMS) technologies seems like the best solution.

The mergers and acquisitions likely brought you to this situation are part of the business lifecycle. Most organizations will eventually face a decision about how to rein in their data and streamline their informatics technologies. In this blog post, we’ll help you identify the information you need to begin a LIMS consolidation project, decide which systems should stay and which should go, and give you some actionable insights about ensuring success.

The Benefits of LIMS Consolidation

Consolidation will not only reduce your support and infrastructure costs but also allow for greater collaboration across your organization. This is achieved in several specific ways.

  • Streamlining your lab processes
  • Improving your lab efficiency
  • Increasing data accuracy and consistency

In an unconsolidated organization, labs at different sites but in the same business unit may be using different systems. One of our clients had been part of a merger that brought together two different organizations with similar operations at established sites across the globe. The newly reorganized business units had different LIMS, different standard operating procedures (SOPs), and different ancillary instruments and systems.

Informatics Standardization and Program Management for a Global R&D LIMS Implementation Project

This client understood that the consolidation project represented a significant opportunity to restructure their underlying data and processes to gain efficiencies within the labs and across the organization. They created a new shared ontology so that their SOPs could be standardized along with their LIMS. This work enabled reporting in standardized formats that could be quickly compared, which in turn allowed them to spot discrepancies easily and make timely adjustments, improving efficiencies. The shared SOPs increased the accuracy and consistency of the data.

Identifying the Key Features of LIMS Technologies

In any LIMS consolidation project, the first step is to survey the current informatics footprint across your organization. What systems, features, and modules are in use? Which ones work the way they were intended, and which ones are underused due to poor user adoption or satisfaction? What are the associated costs (in dollars and people hours) of each? Which are most compatible with other systems across your organization?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you determine what features of a LIMS are essential for your lab. You will understand how your data is currently managed and tracked within the existing LIMS. The survey data will also help you decide which system (or systems) should stay, and which should go. In the survey process, be sure to consider the following:

  • Scalability of the LIMS
  • Advanced analytics and reporting capabilities

▶ Related Reading: LIMS Integration Beyond the Lab Systems

Planning and Implementing LIMS Consolidation

It’s a cliché, but it works: Begin with the end in mind. After you survey the current informatics footprint, consider what you want to get from your LIMS consolidation project. In our experience, that boils down to the question: how do you want to use your organization’s data best? The answer to that is found by taking a deep dive into processes and workflows, not only in the lab but also across your organization—before you begin the consolidation process.

In the case of our recent client that underwent a merger of global business units, they placed this question about using the organization’s data in the most efficient way possible at the heart of the project from the outset. The client’s focus on the data journey gave them the insights necessary to

  • create a LIMS consolidation plan with data as the backbone,
  • set goals and objectives for their consolidation project,
  • define roles and responsibilities to reduce redundancies, and
  • ensure data security and compliance.
Standardizing Multiple LIMS Solutions with STARLIMS

Ensure Ongoing LIMS Consolidation Success

When your LIMS consolidation project is complete, be sure that a plan is in place to maintain it. You will want to continually improve your lab’s consolidated LIMS to stay current with system releases and the use of new features.

A frequently neglected aspect of any LIMS project is a plan for user training and support. Training should be carried out throughout the project as new functionality is made available. Role-based training should be provided at the end of the project. If any of the potential users of the LIMS are not fully trained in its capabilities, you will be wasting your consolidation efforts. Invest in thorough training and some ongoing support, either from the vendor or from a third-party consultancy. Then, take the time to regularly review the system performance and user satisfaction metrics. This will give you the knowledge you need to make adjustments over time.

Bug fixes and periodic updates are the LIMS administrator’s bread and butter. If your organization doesn’t have the staffing bandwidth to support such a role in house, it’s worth bringing in a dedicated LIMS administrator consultant to tackle those ongoing issues, at least at regular intervals if not permanently.

What efficiencies could your organization gain from undertaking a LIMS consolidation project? Reach out to us to discuss the possibilities!

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