LIMS selection for an industry is difficult even if there are many such systems within an industry, and that’s true of ELNs and LESs, as well. By the way, if the title of this seems awkward, it is, but I stopped wordsmithing it and just left it alone.
Recognizing a Need for a LIMS
I occasionally run across companies that are on the verge of purchasing a system to manage their laboratory data. Sometimes, I see this happen within specific industries. Sometimes, it’s difficult to find something fits their requirements. It’s not necessarily the features that are needed that stands in the way but something more like the price point.
Writing My Own LIMS
A few years ago, I started seeing certain types of customers going toward a certain type of platform. I realized that, if I wrote a LIMS on that platform, it would make it more straightforward to select and implement a system. It would also make the LIMS easier to integrate with the rest of the software on that platform.
I knew the tools involved might be difficult to gain access to. In the end, that is what prevented me from moving forward with building a system. Try as I might, I was never able to get access to all the necessary tools.
Note: By the way, I’ll just add that I wasn’t taking this lightly. Building a big system such as this is a huge undertaking. However, I figured I had the experience to do it and understood the magnitude of it.
Making a Deal With a LIMS Vendor
Let me step back for a moment and mention that I have friend in another industry who picked picked one brand of software to implement. When someone in that industry contacts him, he gets them up-and-running with that brand of software he has expertise in. There are no selection costs and he is confident that he can implement the customer with the system he uses.
His point was that those selection costs could go toward building the new implementation. In addition, he said that, if you have a product you’re comfortable with and have an expertise in, that success is much more likely.
With that, I tried to apply his idea to our own industry. I tried to find a product that would be a good match. I wanted to get something that was robust and had enough hooks and features to satisfy a variety of needs. My goal was to work with the software vendor to use it for my own implementations. I thought it could make LIMS selection for the industry easier for certain market segments.
In the end, that was just as hard as trying to write my own system. Software vendors have specific ideas about how they want their systems presented and implemented and want to control every aspect of it. You can’t blame them. It’s their system and they can do what they want with them. I want to be clear I’m not complaining about this. I merely mean to illustrate that this isn’t as easy to do as it might sound.
A Stray Thought About Open Source LIMS
So, just let me say that, despite some misconceptions about it, Open Source isn’t free. It also doesn’t mean that you do your own work. However, there are a variety of open source projects out there. In some cases, there is also some possibility of finding libraries of code that might work to the benefit of a LIMS, an ELN or an LES. As such, I do understand why some customers think this is an attractive direction to take.
I don’t mean to say that it still isn’t quite a lot of work but I do see that there might be some amount of backbone structure and such that you could get from this.
To customers who want to do this, I still ask you, “Do you really want to become a software development company?” However, that’s almost what they become when they implement some of these COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) systems. But I do understand why professionals in our industry might see these as an attractive way to implement for several customers within a specific customer segment, for example.
The Final Word on LIMS Product Selections
As usual, I’ll remind every reader that doing a product selection doesn’t require using an acronym. Acronyms tend to change meaning depending who you ask, but in presenting your requirements and meeting those.
The selection process can be difficult and can sometimes become expensive, in and of itself, but you just need to take it step-by-step. Start with requirements and don’t forget to rate your requirement items. If you become overwhelmed with the number of items you’re considering, that will help.
Remember that LIMS selection for an industry is seldom obvious and plan accordingly.