Book:Justifying LIMS Acquisition and Deployment within Your Organization/Organizational, economic, and practical justifications for a LIMS/Practical considerations and justifications

From LIMSWiki
Jump to navigationJump to search
-----Return to the beginning of this guide-----

2.3 Practical considerations and justifications

Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton activity 160119-N-LK819-006.jpg

So far, we've looked primarily at the economic justifications for LIMS acquisition and deployment, with a few nods to why it makes practical sense (e.g., reducing data entry errors). Let's take a closer look at more practical justifications, both tangible and intangible.

2.3.1 Tangible benefits

Here we provide examples of more tangible benefits to LIMS acquisition and deployment. Much of this list comes from the 1986 article by Joseph H. Golden previously mentioned in the prior chapter.[1] Further insight is gained from Marking and Hald[2], and, more recently, the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL).[3] These are areas in the work environment that can benefit from a LIMS, reduce costs, and improve both productivity and lab operations. The list is not exhaustive but sufficient for a basic LIMS installation. Note, however, that capabilities will naturally vary among LIMS offerings, and as such researching options and participating in demonstrations prior to acquisition is valuable.

The items in the list are points that should measurably demonstrate improvement by using a LIMS versus working with paper-based systems or spreadsheet implementation. If nothing else, with a two-seat LIMS license you can have one seat for administrative work and the second for others working with the system, making an improvement in the use of people's time.

Functions that can be improved by LIMS technology

Analytical support functions

  • Data entry through automated instrument interfacing and computational support (see notes above on barcodes and instrument connections)
  • Analytical result report generation, which can be automatic (100% improvement) or manual, which requires a few parameters for complete reports to be produced
  • Data archiving and retrieval, where archiving may be automatic and data retrieval is a matter of simply entering a query
  • Method and specification storage and retrieval, wherein an electronic format means it is a matter of simply completing a standardized form and then pulling it up later as-needed

Work and resource management: Manual searching is replaced with entering data into a form. This process can further be assisted by a barcode system for significant improvement in productivity.

  • Sample login
  • Receipt and label generation
  • Work assignment and scheduling
  • Worklist preparation
  • Sample tracking and status reporting
  • Backlog reporting
  • Report approval and release
  • Reagent inventory and preparation control

Laboratory quality assurance support

  • Audit trail generation, which is automatic with a LIMS
  • Multi-analysis, blind sampling, round robin tracking, and variance reporting, which is a matter of setting up a standard report that can be executed with a few mouse clicks
  • Automatic tolerance verification and limit checking
  • Instrument calibration scheduling and tracking, which can be automatically managed and alerted in the LIMS

Management support reporting: For each of the items below, this is a matter of setting up a standard report that can be executed with a few mouse clicks.

  • Lab productivity analysis
  • Turn-around time (TAT) and customer service analysis
  • Cost per analysis computation
  • Equipment utilization analysis

Business support: For each of the items below, this is a matter of setting up a standard report that can be executed with a few mouse clicks.

  • Labor time charge entry and reporting
  • Customer account charging and/or billing of inventoried product data for order entry processing
  • QC test data for feedstock purchasing and vendor qualification
  • Corporate database data for regulatory agencies
  • Compliance reporting

To put things into perspective, consider the work involved in generating a lab’s monthly reports on any of the points above by manually searching paper records or at best a spreadsheet system (and while you are doing this, no one else may be able to use the system). Now replace that effort with a few mouse clicks using automated report generation, which could be set up on a regular schedule.

2.3.2 Intangible benefits

Using economic analyses like ROI doesn't provide a complete picture of a LIMS' benefits, as it can be difficult to turn intangible benefits into measurable cost savings.[4][5] (We'll further discuss why ROI shouldn't be the sole selling point of a LIMS project proposal in the next chapter.) The importance of an intangible asset depends upon the issues facing your lab. If you’re swamped with work and can’t hire more people (e.g., because of lack of availability, space, and budget limitations), improving efficiency might be the best alternative, and that could mean a LIMS. If you’re facing regulatory challenges and a plant shutdown is possible, then a LIMS might mean staying in business. What issues are important, and what’s the value of successfully addressing them? As is often the case, the intangible benefits can overshadow more quantitative analysis.[4][5]

The following represent intangible benefits the laboratory can gain by acquiring and deploying a LIMS.[5][6][7][8][9][10] There is no guarantee your lab will benefit in every area, but realistically one can imagine a scenario where some of these benefits are realized. What is viewed as an intangible benefit to one laboratory may be viewed as tangible by another, and vice versa. Though viewed as "intangible," any inability to quantify a benefit does not make it any less important to an organization acquiring and deploying a LIMS.

Improved support for production operations

  • Faster delivery of results to production
  • More useable result formats
  • Less production waste
  • Faster detection of production/quality issues, which reduced wasted product and production time
  • Better integration with production and process control software (e.g., enterprise resource planning, manufacturing execution systems, and product lifecycle management)
  • Better, more easily managed, regulatory compliance

Improved perception of lab capabilities due to improved performance

  • Better customer relations
  • Improvement in lab personnel's attitude about their work, potentially reducing turnover and costs of hiring and training
  • Improved projected business from extra profits (e.g., as a contract testing lab)

Centralized and streamlined lab information, data, and operations

  • Reduction in duplicate testing
  • Easy production of pending, overdue lists
  • Easier prioritization of work
  • Easier evaluation of the lab’s workload
  • Improved reporting
  • Developed basis for further lab automation work, resulting in higher productivity
  • Improved data security (physical and access control)
  • Additional gained value from lab data, turning it into a usable asset and improving access to results
  • More efficient lab operations
  • Better regulatory compliance (in non-production environments) and fewer audits

Improved data management/governance

  • Improved data quality
  • Overall error reduction, e.g., reduced transcription error through the use of barcodes and electronic transfer of IDS results
  • Reduction in transcription errors
  • Improved accuracy of data
  • Improved data integrity
  • Improved compliance with data-driven regulations


  1. Golden, J.H. (1986). "Chapter 2: Economic Considerations of Laboratory Information Management Systems". In Provder, Theodore (in en). Computer Applications in the Polymer Laboratory. ACS Symposium Series. 313. Washington, DC: American Chemical Society. pp. 6–16. doi:10.1021/bk-1986-0313.ch002. ISBN 978-0-8412-0977-0. 
  2. Markin, Rodney S.; Hald, David L. (1 December 1992). "Cost justification of a laboratory information system: An analysis of projected tangible and intangible benefits" (in en). Journal of Medical Systems 16 (6): 281–295. doi:10.1007/BF00996362. ISSN 0148-5598. 
  3. "Laboratory Information Systems Project Management: A Guidebook for International Implementations" (PDF). Association of Public Health Laboratories. May 2019. Retrieved 19 July 2023. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 O'Driscoll, A. (16 February 2023). "7 Best Practices for a Successful LIMS/LIS Implementation". Clinical Lab Products. Retrieved 19 July 2023. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Novak, C. (27 February 2020). "The Benefits of Implementing a LIMS – Beyond ROI". CSols, Inc. Retrieved 19 July 2023. 
  6. Nakagawa, Allen S. (1994). "Chapter 12: Justification and Approvals". LIMS, implementation and management. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry. pp. 143–44. ISBN 978-0-85186-824-0. 
  7. "ASTM E1578-18 Standard Guide for Laboratory Informatics". ASTM International. 2018. doi:10.1520/E1578-18. Retrieved 19 July 2023. 
  8. Todd, H.N. (18 April 2018). "MRSA testing workflow study assesses impact of automation". Medical Laboratory Observer. Retrieved 19 July 2023. 
  9. Paszko, C. (2019). "Quality Assurance - Laboratory Information Management Systems". In Miro, Manuel; Worsfold, Paul; Townshend, Alan et al.. Encyclopedia of Analytical Science. 8 (Third ed.). Amsterdam: Elsevier/Acad. Press. pp. 473–491. ISBN 978-0-08-101983-2. 
  10. "How to Get Management Buy-in for a New Lab Informatics Implementation". CSols, Inc. 14 July 2022. Retrieved 19 July 2023. 

-----Go to the next chapter of this guide-----

Citation information for this chapter

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

Title: Justifying LIMS Acquisition and Deployment within Your Organization

Edition: First Edition

Author for citation: Joe Liscouski, Shawn E. Douglas

License for content: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International

Publication date: July 2023