A laboratory information management system (LIMS) can play an essential role in your lab. One that goes beyond sample and lab data management. A LIMS can streamline and optimise your laboratory processes, leading to improvements in productivity, quality and efficiency. What’s more, it also helps you meet regulatory compliance. So, how does it do this? And importantly, what do you need to do to get the most from the system?
1. Manages your existing laboratory processes – but with improvements
In many advanced laboratory information management systems, you can configure or customise the software to manage your existing processes. Each system will handle this differently depending on the tools and technology available. As you start mapping your processes into the software you have the opportunity to review them to see where you can make any improvements. Plus, you can see what the software can do to make the process easier for you.
The LIMS software can guide you step-by-step through your processes and make sure everyone is completing the same steps for consistency and reproducibility. You can also maximise efficiency and quality by ensuring that these processes are in line with your Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
The software makes sure you’re entering data in a standardised way as well as checking that you’re entering information at the relevant point in the process.
What’s more, the LIMS can remove some of the administration tasks that accompany each process. This could include automatically sending emails or completing audit information for traceability. As a result, you’re saving time while improving the way you work.
But don’t just rush to map all your existing lab processes into a LIMS. You’ll be missing out on much more.
2. Introduces you to new ways of working ‘as standard’
Modern LIMS, like Achiever Medical, may already have many of your essential laboratory processes built into the software. As well as some additional ones that you may not have previously considered. These ‘out-the-box’ processes might not quite be the way you currently do things, but you may be able to work with them. What’s more, they could be much more efficient.
A configurable LIMS that comes with some prebuilt lab processes offers you the ‘best-of-both-worlds’. These systems allow you to make best use of what’s available as well as make the changes you need to meet your lab’s specific needs.
3. LIMS technology encourages you to rethink the way you work
‘Digital transformation’ is a hot topic that’s gained even more traction in recent months due to the increased number of people now working remotely. Technology itself can bring unforeseen benefits as well as offer new ways of working. By leveraging these new technologies, modern web-based LIMS challenge the way you currently think about how you work. Especially when it comes to your lab processes.
This is certainly the case with cloud LIMS applications. If you want to encourage collaboration or enable global access to the software at any time and from anywhere, then cloud-based technologies could allow you to do this more efficiently and cost-effectively.
Similarly, you may want to increase automation in your lab. RESTful APIs can help you achieve connectivity. You can potentially connect everything from sample barcode and rack scanners through to instruments or even automated storage solutions.
Understanding technology and the advantages it can offer means that you’re regularly reviewing your lab processes. As a result, you can leverage the latest software updates to improve the way you work and access information.
4. Gives you insight into which processes are working in your laboratory – and those requiring improvement
You’ve automated all the processes in your laboratory – that’s a great improvement. Now you can sit back and relax. Unfortunately not. This is just the first step. You should be checking regularly to make sure your processes are efficient and still work for you.
Dashboards and analytics in a LIMS can give you insight into how your lab is performing. Monitoring productivity levels, identifying where the bottlenecks are, and highlighting non-compliance issues are just some of the ways in which you can use analytics in a LIMS to track your lab’s performance.
Also, if the data is displayed in real-time you can see exactly what’s happening right now so you can address it. Some advanced LIMS like Achiever Medical, also provide drill-through capability so you can get stuck into the data behind the graphs for in-depth analysis.
By seeing what’s working and what’s not, you can make those important process improvement changes – and see whether they’ve had the desired impact.
5. Leverages knowledge and experience of others
You’re always learning and improving so too are LIMS suppliers. LIMS solutions and services need to evolve to meet changes in market needs and legislation. Plus, good LIMS providers are always talking to their customers to understand what’s happening in their lab to identify product and service enhancements.
A LIMS that offers regular product updates enables you to take advantage of new functionality and technology that may impact the way you work. It could also help you stay up to date with changes in legislation with minimum input from you.
A final thought about the 5 ways in which a LIMS supports laboratory process improvement
A LIMS can significantly improve the way your lab operates – and it’s more than just mapping your existing processes into the system. The tools, technology and functionality the software offers can make your lab more efficient and productive. But it’s not all about the system. You have to be clear about what you want, how you work, where you want to improve and understand what the software and technology offers. To maximise the opportunities a LIMS provides for process improvement you should:
- understand what’s already available in the LIMS and use these to your advantage.
- leverage the functionality and options in the system to improve your existing processes.
- use the technology itself to introduce new, more efficient ways of working.
- monitor performance using analytics to highlight areas for improvement.
- keep your LIMS up to date to make the most of new functionality and technology.
Finally, remember that you’re continuously evolving and adapting. Your LIMS has to change with you if it’s to remain relevant. So, don’t consider these steps as something you do once but something you should aim to do regularly.