Improving quality and quality control using lab software
One of the main reasons many labs use a LIMS is to improve quality. This is not just limited to data quality but also quality across products and service delivery. The software helps to do this in several ways by:
- providing data management tools that help validate and standardise your information
- automating laboratory workflows to save time, enforce consistency and effectively manage standard procedures
- data import and integration capabilities to remove data duplication and re-entry and as a result reduce risks of human error
- introducing quality control measures such as approvals processes, data analysis tools and automated alerts
- automatically auditing actions performed for monitoring and traceability. This gives you chain of custody data and and you can also use this information to assess sample viability
- increasing visibility of data, products and resources while still protecting sensitive information
- helping labs meet regulatory compliance by providing evidence for compliance through real time data analysis and reports.
Using a LIMS to increase efficiency
Using software to automate workflows in your lab can help you increase efficiency. Although this is only true if your processes are working well in the first place.
Some LIMS come with standard lab processes ‘out-of-the-box’ for workflow management. You can take advantage of these if they match your lab operations. However, being able to configure existing or new processing into the software offers you the best option.
Mapping your workflows into the lab information system also helps ensure consistency and enforce protocols. What’s more, the software guides and prompts your team through each process. All this can help you save time on system training.
Data import and integration functions can help you bring in data from other systems such as samples test results from instruments. This helps your lab improve productivity by reducing data duplication and re-keying.
Helping your lab become ‘paperless’
Having a dedicated system to manage your lab data enables you to get rid of spreadsheets and paper-based forms. Unlike a spreadsheet that has no audit trail, lab information management software automatically records each time you update data. So, you can see exactly what has happened with each sample, when and by who.
Also, you can connect with other online systems, such as electronic notebooks (ELNB) and e-consent forms. This means you don’t have to print out lots of notes.
As a result of less paper, you’re reducing the risk of misplacing or losing important or sensitive data.
Sharing information and working in collaboration with other researchers and organisations could be pivotal to your success. You may have multiple teams working on a study or clinical trial. Alternatively, you may want to reuse or share samples with other researchers in your organisation – or even across other institutes. It can be difficult, if not impossible to do this, if your information is held in separate systems and spreadsheets. Simply knowing and finding what samples you have and want to make available for others to use can take time.
Laboratory data management software provides a central, searchable system for all your lab information. This allows researchers across different teams to see, work with and share information and resources.
In addition, cloud-based LIMS enable data to be accessed wherever you are with no setup or software installation required.
Benefits of a LIMS
A modern LIMS can deliver tangible improvements in quality, efficiency, productivity and accuracy. It can also give you intangible benefits including confidence in your data and ultimately your results.
However, it’s important to be aware that each system will offer you different benefits. This can be due to a number of factors including what technology the software uses. Find out more on the benefits of a laboratory information management system.
Considerations when choosing a LIMS
Every software system is different. Likewise not all labs are the same. Therefore, software titled ‘the best LIMS’ may not actually be right for you.
Before you start looking at systems you should define what you’re looking for. This isn’t just a list of requirements. Discover more on finding the system that’s right for you.