Book:Justifying LIMS Acquisition and Deployment within Your Organization/Organizational, economic, and practical justifications for a LIMS/Organizational justifications: Why is it important?

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2. Organizational, economic, and practical justifications for a LIMS

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As a lab manager or stakeholder in your organization, you've concluded that a laboratory information management system (LIMS) makes a lot of sense for solving some of the challenges your lab faces. But you're not the primary decision maker for LIMS acquisition and deployment. At some point, you will have to present your case (i.e., provide justification) for the LIMS to management, and the material included in this chapter will help you make that case. There are different approaches to the justification of LIMS in the laboratory; the methodology you adopt should be based on your understanding of the technology and the dynamics of your management structure. In some cases, presenting practical aspects of a core organizational system like LIMS will be sufficient, while in others a more rigorous analysis will be warranted.

This chapter will examine this justification process by first encouraging your organization to look at the factors that are closest to the lab's essential laboratory functions. From there, we can look at the more traditional economic and practical considerations, justifications, and benefits that can help you with your presentation to management. This allows us to lead into the following chapter, which will discuss the importance of management buy-in, as well as how to pitch the LIMS project to management and critical stakeholders using a project proposal and what you learn from this chapter.

2.1 Organizational justifications: Why is it important?

Before we get into the more classical aspects of justification, we need to look at those factors that are closest to your lab's essential operations. It's all well and good for us to broadly speak about the typical challenges, requirements, and considerations for labs of all types; some important deductions can be made by looking at the industry as a whole. However, no two laboratories are alike, and the challenges, requirements, and considerations for your laboratory may very well differ from the typical. This is why it's vital to not only use broad facts to justify LIMS acquisition but also integrate those facts within the context of your own lab. A series of important questions sets the stage for better explaining why the LIMS is necessary and beneficial to the lab. Questions that need to be asked include:

  • Why is acquiring a LIMS important to meeting the goals of your lab?
  • What problems does the LIMS solve that currently affect your lab?
  • What operational, financial, and personnel improvements do you expect to see in your lab because of LIMS implementation?
  • Why is this important to the larger organization, as well as those outside the lab?

If you're part of a new lab, you might respond to such questions by noting that data and operations management activities are finding a solid base, by putting together systems and procedures that will support later growth and not have to be changed later. Those in an existing lab may have even more in-depth questions. In all cases, the answers provided shouldn't be seen as a challenge to your lab's knowledge and ability, but rather to senior management, who needs to better understand how pivotal technology like a LIMS can change the way the lab operates.

Truth be told, no "one size fits all" justification template exists for a LIMS. It can be the basis for restructuring your lab's operations and changing how it operates. Additionally, the justification for LIMS acquisition and deployment is—as the above questions emphasize—more than a dollars-and-cents consideration, although ultimately, it boils down to that. Management often thinks in terms of cost, and the further someone is in the corporate organizational chart from lab operations, the more financial issues become a driving factor in understanding the impact of a LIMS. They may need to be educated on the benefits of LIMS to lab operations, as well as the organization's bottom line. If lab budgets are tight, money may be a driving factor in that department. In other cases, it might be more straightforward, as reported by one oil company: “In our case, it pays for itself the day LIMS prevents one single day of refining gone to waste.”[1] Similar cases can be made for any regulated industry. Yes, it’s a money issue, but that is considerably removed from the lab's budget. The justification needs to be viewed from more than one perspective.

Let's now address each of those four questions.

2.1.1 Why is acquiring a LIMS important to meeting the goals of your lab?

Presumably, your organization has set out a series of business goals as part of a strategic planning process. Those developed goals should be purpose-driven, actionable, measurable, and forward-focused over a sufficiently long period of time to be fully indicative of the organization's long-term vision.[2] Having these goals on-hand are critical for any organization-specific justification of LIMS acquisition and deployment. These goals should, in theory, represent how upper management and key stakeholders view the organization's pathway to success. If you can match LIMS acquisition justification to those organizational goals, you'll have a better chance of getting through to management. If you can further make that goal-guided justification relevant and current to what's happening in the present, then it’s all the better; "the goals that are timely and pressing are those that earn priority."[2]

Perhaps one of the organizational goals is for timely, accurate analytical results that are cleanly reported, with the belief that such service will earn repeat business in the future, which is a boon to the organization seeking consistency in its operational income. The lab manager who understands the benefits of a LIMS could then link a LIMS to fewer analytical errors and more timely error checking due to the automated nature of the system, as well as more rapid reporting and result distribution to clients. The lab manager could then tie these benefits to the original organizational goal, even providing theorized examples of improved return on investment (ROI) and how those savings could pay for the LIMS in relatively short order.

2.1.2 What problems does the LIMS solve that currently affect your lab?

If you're part of a mature, long-standing lab, there are likely to be some problems or challenges that have been identified as impacting your lab. Now is a good time to see how a LIMS can potentially aid with those problems and challenges. But new labs can also benefit; if your lab is new, the strategic planning process should have included risk analysis that successfully captures currently viewed and potential future risks to the business and achieving its mission-critical goals and priorities.[3] Drawing upon these risks helps you envision potential future problems you lab may encounter, as well as how a LIMS can help mitigate or prevent them.

An easy real-world example may be found with the challenges clinical labs encountered at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those with manual, paper-based workflows that still saw high-throughput activity buckled and cracked under the workloads that the pandemic pressed upon them.[4][5][6] Not only was keeping up with workloads on paper more difficult, but also tracking specimens and providing timely reporting to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were especially challenging. Acquisition and deployment of a LIMS or laboratory information system (LIS) suddenly made more sense for its ability to better help manage increased test demand through improved test ordering methods, standardized order sets, timely shipping notifications, automated triaging, additional data mining, and smoother reporting both internally and to stakeholders (i.e., patients, governing bodies, policymakers).[6] Yes, there's a cost associated with the LIMS or LIS, but solving the paper-based challenge can make sense in the long-term for many such labs.

2.1.3 What operational, financial, and personnel improvements do you expect to see in your lab because of LIMS implementation?

You likely aren't pushing for the acquisition and deployment of a LIMS without some expectation of operational, financial, and/or personnel improvement occurring as a result. Of course, you can't go to management and wave around vague claims of improvement without any research and evidence to back up your assertions. This is where things get a bit tricky, potentially necessitating speculative examination of current and post-implementation workflow methods, ROI calculations, and surveys of lab personnel, to name only a few. It may also require an extensive demonstration of one or more potential LIMS by their respective vendors, including real-life examples of the lab's own analyses and workflows worked into the demonstrations. In the end, the lab manager and stakeholders will be looking to link LIMS implementation to expected improvements in quantifiable and qualifiable ways.

Perhaps a survey of laboratory personnel finds that 72 percent of them believe they'll save at least one hour of work a day for other important activities with the implementation of a LIMS. You then further examine the reasons for that belief and discover the current paper-based and spreadsheet methods involve a lot of manual order entry, additional footwork, waiting for spreadsheets to become available, and cleaning up of data entry errors. You then quantify the number of data entry errors and time spent on them, as well as the time spent entering orders, filing paperwork, waiting for resources, and performing quality checks on manually entered results. From there, you can readily imagine and demonstrate how a LIMS saves time and streamlines workflows, freeing up personnel for tasks that can't be automated and increasing productivity. That's something you can take to major stakeholders as part of your organizational justification for a LIMS.

2.1.4 Why is this important to the larger organization, as well as those outside the lab?

The first three questions largely address the importance of a LIMS to the larger organization. But here the lab manager or key LIMS stakeholder has the opportunity to paint a broader picture of the importance of the LIMS in the scope of organizational goals, risks, challenges, and areas of improvement. "Importance implies a value judgment of the superior worth or influence of something," according to Merriam-Webster.[7] This value judgment can be expressed in many different ways, but you'll essentially be stating evidence that the LIMS is of "superior worth" to the current status quo. Many of the points made in the prior questions can be applied here, but you'll want to make the value judgment quantifiable, as well as qualifiable.

Also of interest with this question are stakeholders outside the lab. By extension, this generally implies that the value judgment of the LIMS relates also to the recipients of the analytical test data and information, whether they are patients, doctors, geologists, manufacturers, or regulatory bodies. Simply put, while the lab's and overall organization's impact are important, the lab and overall organization—through its business goals—ultimately serves its external stakeholders ordering or requiring reporting of laboratory analyses. The same value judgment and "superior worth" applied internally also must be applied to the data and information recipients. What do they gain by the lab shifting from paper-based methods to a LIMS? Are their results more timely and accurate? Are they more empowered through a results portal? Do they recommend you to other potential clients as a result? Some answers may be speculative, but similar to how lab personnel may get surveyed, one can imagine how conducting interviews with critical external stakeholders may reveal tangible evidence that shifting to a LIMS may prove to be an important move for the long-term future of the lab and its customers.


  1. Segalstad, S. (18 May 2015). "Cost of LIMS: True Pricing includes more than Purchase, Implementation and Annual Licensing". R&D World. Retrieved 19 July 2023. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Cote, C. (29 October 2020). "How to Set Strategic Planning Goals". Business Insights Blog. Harvard Business School Online. Retrieved 19 July 2023. 
  3. "Strategic Planning Essentials" (PDF). Gartner, Inc. 2023. Retrieved 19 July 2023. 
  4. "A Vision for Action in Digital Health, 2020-2024" (PDF). USAID. May 2022. Retrieved 19 July 2023. 
  5. Barnes, C. (June 2022). "Going paperless: The world has changed" (PDF). Pathology Focus (Australian Clinicalabs) (18). Retrieved 19 July 2023. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Weemaes, Matthias; Martens, Steven; Cuypers, Lize; Van Elslande, Jan; Hoet, Katrien; Welkenhuysen, Joris; Goossens, Ria; Wouters, Stijn et al. (1 August 2020). "Laboratory information system requirements to manage the COVID-19 pandemic: A report from the Belgian national reference testing center" (in en). Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association 27 (8): 1293–1299. doi:10.1093/jamia/ocaa081. ISSN 1527-974X. PMC PMC7197526. PMID 32348469. 
  7. "importance". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 19 July 2023.