Q&A – Finding the Right LIMS & Clinical Trials Operations Solutions

We sat down with the thought leaders of Sampleminded and asked them a series of questions regarding finding the right LIMS and clinical trials operations solutions. Here’s what they had to say.

Q:  What differentiates one LIMS and clinical trials solutions provider from another?

Most organizations focus on key areas like features, functionality, integration capabilities, timeline, project management, and pricing. At Sampleminded we believe to find the right solution, you should expect more than just software. You want to a solution provider that can deliver:

Partnership – Look for a solution provider that is more of a partner, not just a vendor. You want a partner that understands your unique business and user needs.

Transparency – You want full visibility to the people, practices, and costs involved in developing your system.

Availability & Response Time – When you have questions, changes, or feedback, you deserve to reach out, connect with your solutions provider, and get a response as quickly as possible.

Repeatable Processes – The best systems deliver efficiency by incorporating repeatable processes.

Scalability – When your business grows, your software solutions should grow with you—look for a partner that can provide proven seamless scalability, allowing you to maintain your business momentum.

Q:  How should an organization start the process of selecting potential software partners?

You may want to start by getting an understanding of your internal user needs and business needs. Then it’s customary to release a Request for Information (RFI) or a Request for Proposal (RFP). This allows vendors the opportunity to prepare detailed outlines for how they would meet your needs. From there, you can evaluate vendors to find the ideal partner for your requirements, timeline, budget, objectives, working relationship, and more.

You want to vet a vendor that has proven scalability, otherwise you may find yourself in the painful situation of developing expensive alternative solutions on the back-end, wrapping around your less-than-optimal LIMS, Clinical Trials Operations, or Sample Tracking products to meet your growing needs.

Q:  What mistakes do labs tend to make when identifying the best software partner?

Most organizations ask about “out of the box” solutions, assuming that standard systems will be the most cost-effective. However, what they don’t realize is they really need at least some degree of flexibility and customization, and it will be more cost-effective in the long-run to work that into the approach early on. It is important to understand your organization’s true needs and look for the best solutions from the beginning.

Q:  What are essential features when evaluating LIMS or Clinical Trials Operations software?

There is no one-size-fits-all model that works. While sample physiology is similar in clinical trials and laboratory workflows, all organizations and laboratories have unique business processes and goals. It is essential to implement solutions that are intuitive, accurate, and supported. Managing the chain of custody for specimens is necessary for business, compliance, finance, and operational needs. This is done best with a Sample Tracking system that provides robust capabilities to handle high-volume and high-throughput needs. Process solutions that are versatile enough to handle unique user needs are also vital.

You may want to investigate other feature sets, as well, such as: kit inventory management, equipment maintenance, freezer management, biorepository, and result reporting. When assessing systems, know which features are essential to your organization, then seek solutions that have those features.
These are just some of the features that are critical to a diagnostic or clinical trial laboratory.

Q:  Are there affordable flexible LIMS and operational software solutions out there?

We believe choosing a partner that’s transparent about their pricing model is ideal—this may save time in the selection processes. Most LIMS organizations provide pricing for implementation of process solutions followed by annual subscriptions to support and maintain those solutions.

Many labs and clinical trials organizations utilize standard macros, spreadsheets, tables, and/or charts to manage their specimens, because completely customized systems can be cost-prohibitive. These workarounds are not flexible and usually require a lot of manual entry.  When assessing cost-benefit, consider the cost of the inefficiencies and risk of error when using manual systems. Also consider benefit and cost savings of selecting a solution that introduces automation into your workflow and helps you optimize your processes, which will lessen the needed manual support dedication from human capital resources.

There are always challenges in managing economics, so choose a solutions provider that is flexible and configurable, so they can be personalized without the need for from-scratch customization. With proven business cases that justify the ROI, we make the case that in the long-run, affordability and configuration can co-exist.

Q:  If I want to maximize my ROI, what’s worth spending money on…what’s unnecessary?

Start with a list. First, outline your organization’s requirements for both stakeholders and users. Then, differentiate those requirements based on current and future operational needs.

When assessing future needs, consider your organization’s estimated growth projections. You will want to select a solution that can not only meet the unique demands of your business and users today—but one that can scale to meet your volume and data growth and be flexible enough to support your future business initiatives.

Q:  How much time should I anticipate for development-implementation of a new LIMS or Clinical Trials Operations solution?

While there’s no set time-table, it helps to understand the variables that impact your software launch. At the outset, you’ll work closely with your chosen solutions provider to assess:

  • Current and expected volume growth
  • Number of sites
  • Integrations required
  • Complexity of data

Your solution provider will also consider your desired features, timeline, and budget to deliver a project calendar and execution plan. By creating this detailed assessment of your needs, you’ll be able to mitigate costs and inefficiencies that can come from “feature creep,” or the expansion of extra, unnecessary features.