Managing the Research Laboratory for Optimum Decision Making
While there are many challenges to running an efficient research laboratory, data management is one of the most critical issues facing scientists within drug discovery and development. Data can be generated by many sources within the lab, and often in formats that are not compatible with each other. This makes collecting and analyzing this data a time-intensive process, especially when scientists must use antiquated paper-based methods or spreadsheets. In small to mid-sized research laboratories, where there may not be a dedicated IT function or a budget for investment in database software, scientists and lab managers often perform the additional duties of an IT/systems manager. The result is data and analysis that is prone to error and a scientist who is kept from more productive scientific discovery.
To address some of the challenges of running an efficient research laboratory, many companies are investing in a laboratory information management system (LIMS). With a LIMS funneling data from instruments across the lab to a central database, scientists can be assured that their data is error-free and available for analysis in a format they can use. A LIMS will also help the lab provide quality assurance and an audit trail when traceability of data is important.
In large organizations, an enterprise-level LIMS is managed by a dedicated team of IT or LIMS professionals who will monitor installation and upgrades. For smaller research labs with limited IT infrastructure, this workload is impossible to manage. LIMS vendors are recognizing the increasing needs of smaller laboratories and organizations that could benefit from the workflow automation, instrument integration, and database functionality provided by a LIMS, but do not have the IT infrastructure or resources to implement such a system. By automating the lab’s workflow with an on-demand LIMS solution, these smaller labs can realize important time and cost savings by reducing the amount of time personnel spend on manual processes.
On-demand software requires no hardware purchases, software installations, network setup, or ongoing system upgrades from the customer’s perspective. The solution is delivered via an application service provider (ASP) on a recurring subscription model hosted from a secure datacenter.
LIMS-on-Demand makes it possible for labs of any size to control their data, time, and budget for a low monthly fee, which can be allocated to the much more manageable category of operating expense rather than capital expense. Such solutions provide all the benefits of a fully installed LIMS, such as built in workflows; a powerful database; the ability to capture, store, and analyze lab data; monitor resources and integrate with instrumentation; and reporting templates.
For many research laboratories, it makes business sense to outsource hosting and focus enterprise resources on the core business and research initiatives within drug discovery and development, reducing total cost of ownership while ensuring that business-critical data is truly secure.
About the Author
Kim Shah has more than 20 years’ experience in high-tech marketing and management. Prior to joining Thermo Fisher Scientific, he was vice president of marketing and channel development at Convoq.