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LIMS Systems

Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) help laboratories manage and track samples, orchestrate workflows, as well as store and analyse all laboratory data. Common features in LIMS software include instrument management, compliance tracking, and EDI capabilities. Find the best laboratory information system for your organisation in Australia.

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LIMS Systems Buyers Guide

LIMS software makes it easier for modern laboratories to manage their records and general workflow. LIMS stands for laboratory information system, and it is a software solution intended to manage the entire journey a sample takes through a laboratory, enabling laboratory staff effectively trace and track samples. LIMS software significantly reduces the risk of problems such as lost samples or incorrect labelling.

Some of the core features to be expected from LIMS solutions include sample tracking, which allows the progress of a sample to be tracked from arrival to results delivery. Also, expect to see a protocol execution feature that assists with the standardisation of a laboratory's workflow, procedures and steps, minimising the risk of human errors. In addition, LIMS software usually also includes a storage management feature that helps labs keep track of exactly where samples are stored or used throughout their laboratory lifecycle. LIMS software can keep detailed records, sometimes even down to the particular vile a sample is stored in, and this feature is crucial for busy laboratories that routinely work with large numbers of samples.

The ability of LIMS software to track samples throughout their lifecycle is an invaluable feature for busy labs because it allows employees to track and locate samples much quicker, and improves the overall productivity of the entire lab. It also minimises the risk of errors significantly, which is especially important in laboratories that work with sensitive medical samples. Aside from this, LIMS systems also facilitate direct communication between labs and medical professionals or other institutions that request sample testing, which ensures that results are delivered promptly and effectively.

LIMS systems have a very specific application, unlike sales, marketing or customer support software, LIMS software is focused on the management of medical samples and their progress through a lab. However, some LIMS software solutions can be connected to, or integrated with, other business management systems such as accounting software. LIMS software is usually available in two distinct variants: the first is an on-premise solution installed and hosted locally on the lab's own IT infrastructure, and the second is a cloud-based system that is available via a Software as a Service (SaaS) model.

Before making a decision on which LIMS software to use, businesses need to factor a few variables into the decision-making process. These considerations include, among others, the size of the laboratory, the number of users that require access to the system, whether or not remote access is required, and whether or not the LIMS software in question is compatible with other business systems that the laboratory may already be using. To be considered a LIMS software system, solutions generally enable labs to:

  • Track multiple samples as they are processed by the lab so that the progress and location of samples can always be determined with ease
  • Standardise different procedures and improve the workflow to minimise the risk of human error during the execution of tests and analysis
  • Manage where and how samples are stored in the laboratory environment so that workers can find relevant samples quickly when they need them

What is Laboratory Information Management System Software?

LIMS software in laboratory management software is designed to help laboratories manage the laboratory lifecycle of different samples. LIMS systems are designed to help laboratories effectively and efficiently manage their workloads and balance productivity with accuracy. Furthermore, LIMS systems can help laboratories reduce the chances of human error and the risk of problems such as sample swopping or incorrect labelling. LIMS systems also help laboratories to homogenise their activities, and some systems can even be connected with other business systems to enable the automated sharing of data between different business systems.

Modern laboratories can often be busy and under pressure to analyse samples quickly. LIMS software enables laboratories to track samples and view their progress throughout their laboratory lifecycle. In addition, LIMS systems also centralise data from different samples and different procedures into one easily accessible database so that it is easier and quicker to find information when needed. LIMS software can also be used to automatically share laboratory results with third parties, such as medical professionals. This eases communication between labs and their clients and can reduce waiting times significantly.

Many modern laboratories use LIMS to meet tight deadlines, perform their operations effectively, and reduce the risk of errors. By using LIMS software, laboratories can centralise data and share information with their partners easily and quickly. In addition to this, LIMS systems allow laboratories to standardise procedures and practices, which further contributes to the effective and professional running of the business.

What are the benefits of LIMS software?

The benefits of LIMS software are wide-ranging, and most of these centre around the idea of tracing the exact route a specific specimen takes through a laboratory. Some of the more specific advantages of using LIMS software in a modern laboratory include:

  • Sample tracking: Tracking samples from the time of their arrival to the end of their laboratory lifecycle is a critical feature in any LIMS system. It makes it possible for laboratory technicians to easily find samples when they need them while, at the same time, reducing the risk of losing samples.
  • Standardise operations and procedures: Standardising protocols can be done easily with the help of a LIMS system. This is especially helpful in larger labs that deal with many different samples and tests daily. In addition, LIMS software can create standard operating procedures, which improves the overall quality and efficiency of the lab.
  • Manage sample storage: Storing samples in modern laboratories can be complicated, especially in labs that deal with a large volume of samples. LIMS software automates sample storage record keeping and allows technicians to determine the exact location of specific samples quickly and easily, which boosts productivity and reduces the risk of misplacing samples or confusing one sample with another.
  • Automatically share test results: Sharing test results with third parties, such as doctors or hospitals, can be done automatically with LIMS software. Automated result sharing makes it possible for labs to function more effectively and ensures that important test results are shared with partners or clients as soon as they become available. In addition, the ability to automatically share data ensures that a laboratory works as efficiently as possible and it keeps customers happy.
  • Search through a centralised database: Most LIMS systems have a centralised database that keeps detailed records of all the samples that a lab works with, and this database can be searched for information when needed. Having access to a centralised database further improves efficiency and makes it possible to easily share data with other business applications, such as accounting systems. In addition, centralised data storage is particularly helpful when labs are involved in medical studies or clinical trials because both historical and current information can be found easily.
  • Manage inventory: Managing inventory is a critical part of the day-to-day operations of any lab. By using LIMS software to manage inventory and lab supplies, labs can be sure that this important business function is kept under tight control. Items such as reagents are critical to the effective operation of labs, so being able to track data such as serial numbers, lot numbers, and expiry dates from a central location makes inventory management much more effective.

What are the features of LIMS software?

The features of LIMS software tend to consist of core features and common features, both of which can usually be found in LIMS applications. However, aside from these features, LIMS applications can also have a range of optional features and can differ significantly from application to application. Here are some of the most common features of LIMS software:

  • Workflow management: Managing the workflow in a laboratory is a crucial aspect of the day-to-day operation of any lab. LIMS systems allow labs to manage their workflow more effectively by allowing samples to be tracked through each step of their laboratory lifecycle. This strategic function is important because it can greatly improve the efficacy and accuracy of any lab.
  • Inventory management: Keeping track of inventory such as reagents and consumables that are required to perform tests is another essential function in most laboratories. LIMS software enables labs to automate inventory management by keeping track of inventory levels and important information such as lot numbers, expiry dates, and supplier information.
  • Instrument management: Keeping instruments in good working order ensures that a laboratory and its test results are accurate and reliable. However, larger labs often have a vast array of different instruments and manually keeping track of their status is not an easy task. LIMS systems can automate this task and inform lab technicians when a specific instrument is due for servicing, calibration, or if a fault is detected.
  • Automated data sharing: Sharing test results and other information with clients automatically ensures that important test results are delivered as soon as they are ready. In addition, automated data sharing also reduces the administrative workload in laboratories and improves the efficiency of the laboratory, which can lead to an improved reputation and better business results.
  • Compliance tracking: Ensuring that all the procedures a lab follows are compliant and by industry standards is essential. Labs often perform sensitive tests, and not being compliant with specific regulations can lead to test results being invalidated. LIMS software can help laboratories track each step of a specific procedure to ensure that tests are performed in full compliance with the relevant standards.
  • Certification of analysis: Certifying test results is often a requirement for test results to be considered valid. Many LIMS applications can electronically certify test results by appending a digital certification to the results. Certified results usually carry more weight than uncertified results, and customers may often decide to do business with a laboratory that can deliver certified results, which is why this feature is important.

What should be considered when purchasing LIMS software?

When purchasing LIMS software, it is crucial to consider several important factors. There are several LIMS applications on the market, and not all of them are created equally. While almost all the different LIMS applications have more or less similar core features, there are differences between the systems concerning their optional features. Some of the most important considerations that should be taken into account are outlined below:

  • What are the key features of the LIMS solution? It is critical to take a close look at the core features that the LIMS solution in question provides. Factors like whether or not the solution covers all the needs that a specific lab might have are covered and whether or not the system is adaptable are important considerations. In addition, it is also important to evaluate the basic needs of a lab before deciding on a specific LIMS solution. In many cases, a solution might come with many optional extras that are not required and not useful. Furthermore, a balance must always be struck between the needs of a lab and the features that a solution provides.
  • What are the intended goals for the LIMS solution? Not all laboratories are created equally, and not all laboratories specialise in the same field. However, LIMS solutions can be used in any type of laboratory, whether the lab in question works with medical samples, product development, research, or quality control. As such, some LIMS solutions are designed for use in specific fields and prioritise features that apply to that field over others. Laboratories need to take a close look at the features that a specific LIMS solution offers and judge whether or not that solution will be able to meet the needs of the lab before making a purchase. Understanding exactly the intended goals for a LIMS solution makes it easier to find the right solution.
  • What are the costs related to the LIMS solution? LIMS solutions are generally available in two pricing models. The first is in the form of traditional on-premise solutions that require greater internal IT involvement and higher upfront costs. The other is a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution, which is cloud-based and offers the advantage of being quicker and less expensive to deploy. In terms of forecasting future upgrade costs, on-premise solutions are in the hands of internal departments. Furthermore, SaaS upgrade costs are set by the provider, so they are less able to be anticipated in the long term. The biggest factor in deciding which pricing model to opt for generally depends on the laboratory's upfront budget, but it is important to consider all potential future costs when making a choice. Basing the decision on the total cost of ownership of a specific solution gives the laboratory a better idea of exactly what they are signing up for before making a purchase.
  • Will the LIMS solution help the laboratory achieve its goals? Before choosing a specific LIMS solution, it is important to consider the business goals that a laboratory wishes to achieve. By understanding these goals clearly, they can make better decisions and more carefully evaluate whether or not the software solution in question will help them achieve these goals. Purchasing a system that doesn't fit the bill can lead to large and unnecessary expenses further down the road, in addition to causing potential business disruptions.
  • Does the LIMS solution need to allow for remote access? While laboratory work is usually done in person and at the laboratory's premises, it might be useful for employees to access data remotely. At the same time, laboratories often deal with highly sensitive information, and this information must be always stored securely. If remote access is required, it is important to look for a solution that places a particular emphasis on data security and uses industry-standard data encryption to secure data when it is being accessed remotely.
  • Is the LIMS solution suitable for the size of the laboratory? Not all laboratories are the same size, which means that not all laboratories require the same solution. For example, a small laboratory with only a few employees might not require the same functionality as a large multi-branch laboratory which processes many samples per day. Purchasing a system that is incorrectly sized for the needs of a specific laboratory can be a costly mistake, and it is best to avoid this by analysing the current and potential future needs of a laboratory before investing in a system.
  • Does the LIMS solution meet data storage requirements? Laboratories often work with data that is very sensitive and personal, so must always consider legal requirements that relate to data storage. Various countries and jurisdictions have significantly tightened their approach to data leaks, and the protection of personal data and investing in a system that doesn't meet the relevant standards can prove very problematic.
  • Is the LIMS solution compatible with other business systems? Modern businesses often have several business systems, and in many cases, one system relies on data from another system to perform its function. When choosing a LIMS solution, it is always a good idea to look for a system that is capable of interacting with other pre-existing business systems. For example, the ability of a LIMS system to interact with ERP and CRM systems is an important factor to consider.
  • Can the LIMS system interact with existing laboratory equipment? Laboratories that have many different machines often rely on LIMS software to ensure that their equipment is maintained regularly. LIMS systems can often interact directly with equipment to obtain information on the current status and maintenance requirements of the machine. However, not all systems can interact with all machines, and it is important to take this into account when choosing a LIMS solution.

LIMS software trends are another important factor that must be taken into consideration when deciding on which LIMS solution to invest in. The most relevant trends in the field of LIMS are:

  • Better data management: Data is more critical today than ever before, and data management standards are constantly evolving and improving. This is especially important for the laboratory industry due to the amount of data that the average laboratory generates, handles, and stores. Smart data management is a key requirement for any LIMS solution.
  • Cybersecurity: Data is a valuable commodity, and cybercriminals are well aware of this. One of the most important trends in LIMS software is a bigger emphasis on cybersecurity and data protection. More and more software providers are switching to a SaaS pricing model, which also drives the quest for improved protection against cybercrimes such as hacking, phishing, and data mining.
  • Instrument maintenance: Laboratories rely on expensive and complicated instruments to perform tests, and the results are only as good as the maintenance of the instruments. For this reason, there is a growing demand amongst LIMS users for better instrument management functionality.
  • Pre-configured systems: Many laboratories perform complicated tests that must meet specific industry standards, and it is not always easy to keep up with the many regulatory changes that occur. Because of this, laboratories are looking toward pre-configured systems that are already updated with the latest regulatory changes.
  • Increased reliance on artificial intelligence: Very few areas have been left untouched by artificial intelligence, and this technology is particularly useful in LIMS solutions. Laboratories are constantly looking for ways in which to improve efficiency and accuracy, and AI has been proving very useful in achieving this goal.