Key Considerations in LIMS Selection
You’ve finally decided to purchase or upgrade your LIMS. This is a complex undertaking. If work is done upfront, the rewards can be well worth the effort in terms of time savings, cost savings, and process improvements. Before you begin your research, you should know that all COTS (Commercial off the Shelf) LIMS are not created equal. It is important to evaluate each vendor and each offering using tools and guides, including the information in this post. A clear understanding of your lab’s needs, goals, and budget is necessary before you consider the following criteria.
Company history and experience. Look for an established vendor with a long track record of success. Read customer reviews and talk to reference customers if possible. Make sure that the company has a reputation for using the latest technology and that they offer a variety of training and support options. Review the employees’ backgrounds and credentials.
Technology. Determine what reporting tools are offered. Ask what code the software is written in, and if Web deployment, Software as a Service (SaaS) is available. Does the solution offer a variety of data transfer options such as a restful API, Web services, file transfer and database to database integration? For SaaS, where is the database hosted? Who owns the data? Can you easily get a backup of the data? What does technical support look like? Is it free of charge, available 24/7? Ask about other resources for users including a knowledge base, white papers, user groups, support portal.
Cost of ownership. What are you getting for your money in terms of features that meet your needs? Weigh the costs and benefits. Ask for an ROI analysis. What is the cost including all customizations to bring the system to a usable state for your organization? How configurable is the system, for example what can the laboratory do? Can they create their own reports, or is this a task that only IT can manage or must the vendor be involved in all customizations? Is there a charge for upgrades? How frequently are version updates and new versions released? Ask about implementation timelines and potential downtime.
Usability. Software should be intuitive, easy to use and quickly adopted within the organization. Users should have access to support and training and reach a support engineer rather than having to leave a voice mail. Can the software support terminology that is common to the laboratory or must users adapt to the terminology that comes with the software? Review the maintenance and investment required to keep the software available and up-to-date.
Features. Software should be easy to navigate, drill down, sort, group and search data. It should also be easy for users (with adequate permissions) to export data to Excel or any other common format that is required. It should meet regulatory compliance goals. Features should be consistent throughout the software, so that users can quickly learn the navigation. Users should be able to use their own workflows, terminology, and formats, and save settings to accommodate their own processes. The software should follow standard conventions.
Security. Check the SaaS encryption standard and granularity of permissions. User roles should be able to be set and database tables must be accessed only by those with permissions. Auditing should be granular and fully supported. Whether your LIMS is on-premises or in the cloud, users can leverage Single Sign On (SSO) authentication. The LIMS should be 21 CFR part 11 compliant.
If you are looking for a vendor that checks all these boxes, you should definitely speak with us at ATL. Our professionals can identify your specific needs and propose solutions. We’ve been helping users select the best LIMS for their laboratories for more than 25 years.
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