That’s right! Finally, someone is going to reveal which LIMS is the “World’s Best LIMS”. Now there will be no need to go through those long, complex, and difficult LIMS Selection Processes! But wait a second, is there really such a beast lurking in the lab informatics jungle? Unfortunately, the answer is no, not really. There are just too many variables and factors to be weighed when determining the right LIMS for your lab organization. Additionally, as labs gain a better understanding of their needs and goals, it is common that the importance of many of these variables and factors will differ greatly based on the particular lab situation and environment. That’s why, even though there are several “general purpose” Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) LIMS that can be configured and customized to satisfy virtually any need, it’s impossible to truly come to a definitive choice of the “World’s Best LIMS” when one takes into account all the Specialty LIMS available on the market.
In this, the first part in the World’s Best LIMS series, let’s take a look at some of these factors and variables and see how they can affect the determination of the “World’s Best LIMS”. (click here to read part two)
The industry wherein your lab is operating will have a major effect on determining what the best LIMS is for your organization. For example, if your lab is running in a regulated environment like a QC pharmaceutical laboratory, the best LIMS for you must have very strong capabilities to support regulatory compliance, like full audit trails, support for e-signatures, electronic training records, instrument calibration and maintenance, standards and reagents tracking, etc. However, if your lab is running in an unregulated environment like an early stage pharmaceutical research lab, then while many of these capabilities are still pertinent, others are not really needed. Therefore, the pharmaceutical industry LIMS that would be best for the QC lab will generally be different than the one that would be best for the Research lab.
The needs of different industries have driven the diversification of the LIMS market such that there are now a plethora of Specialized LIMS available today including:
While utilizing a specialized LIMS designed to support your particular industry can be beneficial, it is often the case that lab organizations determine that a general purpose LIMS is a better fit. It is important, therefore, to explore both the general purpose and specialized LIMS solutions when you are determining the best LIMS.
The type of lab that you are running is a huge factor in selecting the best LIMS to support your organization. For example, are you a Quality Control or Quality Assurance (QC/QA) lab supporting manufacturing, or are you an Analytical Services lab supporting research or maybe you’re a basic or early stage Research lab? Just as there are many specialty LIMS that have been designed to support specific industries, there are also specialty LIMS that have been designed to support a specific type of lab operating within a specific industry. So the LIMS solution that would be best for one lab type may be a suboptimal choice for a different type of lab.
Let’s explore the three lab types described above. Firstly, if your lab is a QC/QA Lab supporting manufacturing, the best LIMS for you will have strong, built-in capabilities to support the batching of samples together into QC runs. In fact, the best LIMS for you will have the capability to set up QC run templates, so all of your duplicates, spikes, references, etc. will be laid out in the run template for you to use.
In the second example, your lab is an Analytical Services Lab supporting research. The best LIMS for your organization will have a strong sample submitter portal and functionality to support the easy submission of samples for testing to your lab.
Lastly, a LIMS that has been designed to support a basic Research Lab would include support for higher level sample database entities within the data structure of the LIMS, like Project or Experiment. Additionally, a basic research LIMS would likely need to offer flexible sample parent/child relationship management capabilities.
Your choice of the “World’s Best LIMS” will, therefore, be directly affected by the type of lab you are operating.
What your organization supports as its standard IT Architecture for applications, networks, and databases can have a dramatic effect on which LIMS can be termed the “World’s Best LIMS” for you. For example, if your organization has elected to only support lab applications in “the cloud” then LIMS solutions that do not support this architecture would never be considered the best LIMS, even if it had all the functionality you were looking for. Similarly, if your organization is more conservative and prefers its lab applications to be hosted within its firewall and be fully web-enabled, all SaaS only, cloud-based LIMS would now be out of contention.
Have you determined what the “World’s Best LIMS” is for your organization? What factors did you assess to help drive your choice? Did you end up with a Specialty LIMS or a General Purpose LIMS?