Sure, your LIMS software works… but could it work better?
It’s no secret that technology is evolving at a pretty wild pace, and commercial testing laboratories are faced with a ton of opportunities that didn’t exist even a few years ago. With the advent of IoT devices, artificial intelligence, strategic systems integration and newer, flashier lab management software, today’s labs have the potential to create efficiencies out the wazoo. Of course, implementing new tech can be expensive, time-consuming and a little scary. Dontcha wish you could take the software you’re already using and make it do more stuff?
That’s what we’re talking about. Most testing labs already have a laboratory information management system (LIMS) in place. There’s a wide range in terms of what LIMS software can do – from simple sample tracking and lab data storage to more advanced scheduling, quality control and reporting. Your LIMS is already the backbone of your lab data management, and you should keep it as such.
But, whether you’re using a leading solution like Matrix Gemini, STARLIMS or Core LIMS™, or a free, industry-agnostic option like BikaLIMS, there’s a decent chance that you could be getting more out of the data your system holds. Here are just a few ways you could engage a software vendor to customize your LIMS to do more with what you already have.
1. Integrate with sales and work orders
LIMS software is designed to make sample check-in easier – no brainer. However, by integrating with your sales and work order systems, your LIMS could provide real-time visibility into where every sample is, what the customer ordered and what historical data can be tied with that customer’s assets. This can help both internally (your technicians can always connect the sample in hand with the customer order) as well as externally. Your customer service team can field any sample-related questions quickly and effectively.
2. Identify bottlenecks
Do you know which test types take the longest? Can you pinpoint the equipment or stage that slows down your lab technicians the most? With a little track and trace intelligence, your LIMS system can show you which stations your samples are stuck at the longest. This, in turn, can help you examine your lab’s process and troubleshoot accordingly.
3. Assist with data verification
Remember that historical customer data we mentioned earlier? This really comes in handy here. You can customize your LIMS to remember previous test values and flag any outliers. If a test result is flagged as being way off base from the last several times the same test was run on the same customer order, your team can actually identify the possible error right away and run the test again to verify. This allows you to provide a faster and higher quality service to your customer.
4. Aid in forecasting
If your LIMS system is not already connected to your financial package, your laboratory is missing a big opportunity in terms of data-driven forecasting. With complete visibility into sample tracking, as well as work order order integration, you can determine – sometimes down to the minute! – when orders will be completed and ready to invoice. This can help improve cash flow and assist you in planning for new business.
5. Automate invoicing
While you’re in there getting your LIMS to play nicely with your accounting software, you may as well go ahead and set up automated invoicing. You can set your LIMS system to trigger invoicing the second an order is complete. This can ensure that your customers get a quicker, more consistent experience and your laboratory makes it rain, er, we mean gets paid faster.
6. Report data directly to customers
If you really want to invest in technology, take real-time visibility a step further by offering your customers access to their test data right away. There are add-on data presentation tools that can integrate with your LIMS to provide customers instant access to their data in visual formats they can easily understand. While there will of course be some implementation and subscription costs, you can save a lot of time on reporting, customer service and even, in some instances, data security and compliance.
7. Grow with your business
OK, this one isn’t necessarily a specific solution, but it is a really important point to consider. Your laboratory and all of its data management needs will continue to evolve over the coming years. By understanding how simple it can actually be to enhance the LIMS software you already have, you can start to think creatively and have ongoing collaboration with your technology partner. Rather than shopping around for a new system, you may be able to keep growing within the LIMS you already have.
It’s tempting to go nuts and purchase the shiniest new tech solutions out there in the name of digital transformation. But, it’s kind of like car shopping. Should you buy a band new Tesla just because you can? Or, should you keep driving the car that runs just fine but maybe get some new tires? (Right… bad example!) In any case, it’s worth taking a close look at what your testing lab needs and how you can stretch the solutions you already have. If you feel like talking it over, we’re always up for a chat!