We’ve been constantly striving to move towards automated, paperless processes in laboratories. Greater laboratory efficiency has always been a major motivator for doing so. The transition of course requires the right IT support, hardware, and a solid management system such as the laboratory information management system (LIMS).
Today, laboratories rely on different tools to manage the variety, velocity, and volume of data. High throughput technologies that are being used today increase the complexity and quantity of data that needs to be processed on a daily basis. Besides, organizations operate globally and interact with laboratories around the world leading to a constant flow of data beyond geographies and locations. LIMS helps organizations tide over the many challenges by helping them automate business processes, facilitate data capture, and streamline workflows.
The LIMS market globally is expected to touch $1.7B by 2025 from $1B in 2020 considering a CAGR of 12.1% thanks to technological advancements and the growing adoption of cloud-based LIMS.
R&D partnerships are increasing rapidly too, necessitating a perfect solution that ensures end-to-end integration of the lab across functions. It is evident LIMS is critical for the survival and success of laboratories but that does not mean you would simply want to buy it off the shelf without even evaluating your needs.
The right LIMS application will improve internal competencies and offer a sustainable competitive edge in no time. But selecting the right LIMS application is crucial and an earnest review of the needs of process owners is necessary from a LIMS perspective.
Many questions come to mind when choosing the best LIMS. On-premise or cloud, which parameters to consider while selecting LIMS, would there be challenges in implementation and adoption – the questions can be endless. As the need for operational efficiency, decreased cost, flexibility, and security continue to rise, modern laboratories are now in the favor of having cloud-based LIMS.
It’s time we delved deeper into LIMS to understand what it’s all about and why a cloud-based LIMS may be the best match for your laboratory.
How does a good LIMS help you?
The primary role of LIMS is to remove blocks that stand in the way of attaining operational efficiency. A modern LIMS facilitates workflow automation and management, enables data analysis, and supports regulatory compliance. It also plays a big role in facilitating audit trails and integrates with instruments, devices, and systems. But in order to ensure that the LIMS plays its part perfectly well within your lab environment, it needs to be implemented, integrated, and validated properly. You need to also plan for its maintenance and upgrade early on.
Things to remember while choosing LIMS
A thorough business process analysis (BPA) can maximize the value of LIMS. The focus of selection should not be to merely implement a system that can speed up existing work processes but to have one that is designed to optimize workflows. Laboratory stakeholders need to have a series of discussions and process walk-throughs to create a Requirements Matrix to choose the right LIMS and ensure a successful implementation. You need to determine its place in the laboratory systems architecture roadmap especially if the implementation is going to be followed by integration with a large number of instruments and systems and if it’s going to be deployed at multiple sites. You need to have a strategic vision to foresee risks and the possible strategies you may want to consider for mitigating them.
Is Cloud the future?
Most would think so.
Modern enterprises do believe the cloud is a huge step forward and is being touted as the next big thing. The latest LIMS comes with multiple hosting options but the one that you should consider should align well with your business goals and the standards established by IT. While many are still content with on-premise deployment, there is a growing demand for cloud-hosted fully managed deployment (SaaS).
While the enterprise deployment usually involves installing the LIMS software on the customers’ server and data is also maintained on their servers guarded by a corporate-wide firewall for optimal security, the SaaS model has several users operating on a single instance of the software and database. This kind of coexistence is usually referred to as a multi-tenant mode though you have the option of choosing a single-tenant mode also if security is your primary concern. You are accordingly provided dedicated infrastructure but at a slightly higher cost.
There are multiple advantages to using cloud-based LIMS. Here are some of the top ones that make it so popular:
- It’s cost-effective- You have the PAYG option where you pay as you go only for what you need
- It reduces maintenance costs – You save a lot due to the absence of license fee, in-house servers, dedicated resources, and costs associated with hardware and software maintenance
- Minimizes dependence on dedicated IT resources – Vendor provides the necessary infrastructure and support thereby ensuring that you are able to manage with minimal resources
- Easy to scale – Fast and flexible scalability allows you to expand as per the quantity of data and changing business needs
- Enables backup and disaster recovery – No up-front investment is required to protect data as the backup and recovery solutions take care of it irrespective of the size of your data and business
- Greater efficiency – The vendor takes full responsibility for its smooth functioning and communicates in advance when a downtime is scheduled
- Quick deployment – Deployment time is much lesser as the application is up and running immediately since it is deployed by the vendor in the cloud
- Automated updates – Quick and automatic updates to update infrastructure without hassle save time and effort
Since there are multiple vendors and diverse hosting options, it may be difficult to choose between on-premise and cloud-based LIMS on the basis of the total cost of ownership. A thorough assessment of your business needs would therefore be a good idea to ensure you are on the right track. While doing so, make sure that your LIMS system is suitably equipped to integrate with your instruments and other related systems.
You also need to validate the system following its implementation to ensure that it is working just the way it is supposed to. Regulatory agencies require validation to ensure data accuracy and integrity in the systems. From a regulatory as well as product quality perspective, it is important to maintain a detailed audit trail of the data.
Every time you make changes to the system you need to validate it again. Commonly referred to as Computer System Validation (CSV), this form of validation is necessary when you configure a new system or modify it with upgrades, patches, extensions, etc. A risk-based assessment is usually recommended to determine test cases along with the level of testing required.
As with everything else, precise validation too is possible only when you review your requirements critically prior to validation. Precise validation testing will ensure that the systems work perfectly well over the full software development lifecycle. Also pay attention to streamlining the paperwork as precision is required in documentation too in order to fulfill regulatory compliance.
Planning is the key to cloud-based LIMS adoption
While customization is a good thing it is often accompanied by complexities and increased cost of maintenance. There will be several integrations too and the need for extensions and enhancements will continue to grow as the nature of your business evolves. It is therefore important to keep scalability and maintenance factors in mind while planning for your LIMS system.
Once you are able to implement LIMS effectively, you need to ensure that your people use it. There has to be proper communication and collaboration for effective adoption to take place. Frequent communication with stakeholders often leads to active participation and successful adoption. An extensive LIMS training program is also recommended so that everyone gets acquainted with the system quickly and learns to use its myriad features. Only then will they be able to use it consistently and enable the new LIMS to add business value to your laboratory.
Choose the right cloud-based LIMS solutions with Trigent
Trigent has been helping laboratories manage growing business challenges with cloud-based LIMS. Our LIMS solutions help you deal with the growing volumes of data effortlessly. We can implement and validate a LIMS for you and ensure that it is cost-effective and efficient.
Moving to the cloud is an important decision and we can help you with everything you need with a highly systematic approach to laboratory information management.