LII:A Guide for Management: Successfully Applying Laboratory Systems to Your Organization's Work

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Title: A Guide for Management: Successfully Applying Laboratory Systems to Your Organization's Work

Author for citation: Joe Liscouski

License for content: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International

Publication date: January 2018


Laboratory informatics involves a collection of technologies that range from sample storage management and robotics to database/workflow management systems such as laboratory information management systems (LIMS) and electronic laboratory notebooks (ELN), with a lot of task-specific tools in between. These components were designed by a number of vendors who saw specific needs and developed products to address them. Those products in turn were presented to laboratories as a means of solving their instrumental data collection and analysis, sample preparation, data management, and document management issues. With many needs and so many ways to address them, how do you go about choosing a set of products that will work for you?

That is what this set of webinars is all about. We introduce the technologies and position them for you so that you can see how they may or may not apply to your work. Then we address the very real world topic of justifying the investment needed to put those tools to use in your laboratories.

Once that foundation has been put in place we cover:

  • Technology planning and education: Planning is essential for success in this work. We look at how to go about it, who to involve, and methodologies for carrying out the work. We also look at the associated knowledge necessary to be effective.
  • Implementation: Informatics systems can be a challenge to implement. We look at what is needed to minimize risks and make the implementation easier, as well as the support requirements needed to manage their use in your laboratory environment.
  • Regulatory guidelines and compliance: We also address regulatory guidelines and compliance and how they can affect every laboratory application.
  • The future: What developments will arise and be needed in the future? We wrap up the series with those details.


About the author

Initially educated as a chemist, author Joe Liscouski is an experienced laboratory automation/computing professional with over forty years experience in the field, including the design and development of automation systems (both custom and commercial systems), LIMS, robotics and data interchange standards. He also consults on the use of computing in laboratory work. He has held symposia on validation and presented technical material and short courses on laboratory automation and computing in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. He has worked/consulted in pharmaceutical, biotech, polymer, medical, and government laboratories. His current work centers on working with companies to establish planning programs for lab systems, developing effective support groups, and helping people with the application of automation and information technologies in research and quality control environments.

Part 1: Laboratory Informatics Technologies

LIMS, ELN, scientific data management systems (SDMS), laboratory information systems (LIS), laboratory execution systems (LES), and instrument data systems are terms that have been part of laboratory discussions for years, but unless you’ve been an active part of those conversations, they sound like techno-babble. The purpose of this webinar is two-fold:

  • first, to introduce the webinar series and its objectives, and
  • second, to convert that babble into meaningful subjects and see how they apply (or not) to your laboratory.

Informatics is part of laboratory life: unless it is a piece of glassware, almost everything in the lab has a chip that is supposed to improve its usefulness. At the end of this webinar you will have an understanding of what the key technologies are, how they relate to each other, and how they might improve you lab's operations. The remainder of the series will build on this background, looking at return on investment (ROI) considerations, planning, education, and IT support requirements. You’ll love it.

Webinar

PlayVideo.png The webinar for this session (50:17) can be found at YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/

Slides and transcripts

PDF.png The slides and transcripts for this webinar can be found on Google Drive: https://drive.google.com/

Part 2: Laboratory Informatics and Return on Investment

When you are considering lab informatics and automation projects, someone is going to ask “what is the return on the investment you’re asking for?” How do you answer them? This second webinar in the series provides practical guidance.

The introduction of informatics/automation technologies into laboratory work requires larger investments than typical lab bench spending and involves people from outside support groups. It also brings up issues of knowledge and intellectual property management, an increasingly important corporate topic. Your ability to address these points within the ROI conversation will have a direct impact on the approval of your projects. Join us as we begin to look into these considerations:

  • How do you justify the expense of laboratory systems?
  • What results can be expected from an investment in laboratory technologies?
  • How do you go about setting goals that are easily understood and play into corporate concerns?
  • How will these investments affect other groups?

As laboratory work and the investments in it become more visible to the corporate organization, more effort will have to be put into the justification and evaluation of these expenditures. This webinar will help you form a basis for that work.

Webinar

PlayVideo.png The webinar for this session (38:31) can be found at YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/

Slides and transcripts

PDF.png The slides and transcripts for this webinar can be found on Google Drive: https://drive.google.com/

Part 3: Technology, Planning, & Education

The first webinar introduced the subject of laboratory informatics, comparing the use of LIMS, ELN, SDMS, LIS, LES, and instrument data systems in different laboratory settings. The second looked at how you can evaluate the ROI in those technologies.

This third webinar looks at technology planning and education, and more specifically, how you can gain the benefits expected from your investment in informatics technologies. Effective planning, by people with a good understanding of laboratory technologies, is one of the key points in successfully applying informatics technologies to laboratory work. Most failures can be traced back to insufficient planning efforts.

This subject may span more than one webinar session and will look at the:

  • methodologies for laboratory systems planning, including where and when to start and who should be involved;
  • roles of regulatory guidelines in different laboratories;
  • roles that laboratory management, personnel, and IT support groups play;
  • changes taking place in laboratory work and the backgrounds needed to be successful; and
  • efforts needed to support the technical work and meet ROI and performance goals.

Webinar

PlayVideo.png The webinar for this session (42:18) can be found at YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/

Slides and transcripts

PDF.png The slides and transcripts for this webinar can be found on Google Drive: https://drive.google.com/

Part 4: LIMS/LIS, ELN, SDMS, IT & Education

This session builds on the material covered in the previous webinars. We extend the discussion of centralized laboratory database systems (LIMS/LIS, ELN, SDMS) to look at multi-laboratory applications, as well as the use of virtual systems, local/private cloud, remote cloud, and vendor-supported remote database applications. This session also begins looking at the roles that information technology support groups can play in this work. Points covered include:

  • planning for multiple laboratory use of database systems;
  • using local and cloud-based computing models; and
  • integrating IT teams to better play a role in the work.

Webinar

PlayVideo.png The webinar for this session (43:59) can be found at YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/

Slides and transcripts

PDF.png The slides and transcripts for this webinar can be found on Google Drive: https://drive.google.com/

Part 5: Supporting Laboratory Systems

The previous webinars have progressed from the descriptions of laboratory technologies to choosing some components, the financial justification for their use, and the beginnings of describing the topology and distribution of lab informatics. In the course of those sessions, we began looking at the need for outside support for the systems under consideration: what help do you need when carrying out this work, and where will it come from?

This webinar continues the development of that topic. What roles do lab personnel and corporate IT support play in identifying technologies, selecting products, implementing them, and providing for long-term support? Is there a need for additional players in this work and what are their roles?

Why is this important to you? We’re past the point where traditional IT backgrounds are sufficient to support laboratory work. While the ability to effectively apply the available technologies, and identify missing components, is outside the experience of most lab personnel and IT support, it is an essential need if we are going to meet the growing productivity and return on investment (ROI) demands of laboratory work. This presentation looks at how we develop people to fit that need.

Webinar

PlayVideo.png The webinar for this session (43:31) can be found on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/

Slides and transcripts

PDF.png The slides and transcripts for this webinar can be found on Google Drive: https://drive.google.com/

Part 6: Instrument Data Systems

Instrument data systems represent a critical transition in lab work: it is the place where we stop working with materials and begin working with numerical representations of those materials, where lab bench science ends and informatics begins. Problems in that transition can negate all the work leading up to it, leading to results that are open to challenge.

This webinar takes a look at:

  • those instrument data systems;
  • the processes that affect your data;
  • the choices you face in designing an informatics architecture for your lab; and
  • the silo effect and the roles of lab managers, personnel, and support have in selecting and managing those technologies.

Why does this matter? We are moving toward the development of automated science as a means of gaining higher productivity and reducing costs. If the systems we are putting in place are not well understood and planned, that automation can result in questionable results and missed opportunities. Laboratory informatics architectures have become a major factor in the success of lab operations, and this webinar represents an important step in building that success.

Webinar

PlayVideo.png The webinar for this session (43:09) can be found on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/

Slides and transcripts

PDF.png The slides and transcripts for this webinar can be found on Google Drive: https://drive.google.com/

Part 7: Laboratory Processes

In this seventh episode of the webinar series, we broaden our view to examine the full range of lab work, including the methods and procedures that put the “science” in lab work.

This webinar takes a look at:

  • how the various informatics pieces relate to each other in the process of lab work, and
  • what it takes to integrate them into computer-controlled, computer-assisted, and scientific production systems.

Why is this important to you? As the drive for higher productivity and improved ROI continues, laboratories need to take advantage of the full range of informatics and automation tools available to them. That includes viewing the lab's operations from a broader viewpoint, ensuring that resources are used effectively and opportunities aren’t missed. This concluding session brings the entire series to a close, allowing you to apply all the concepts we've covered to your lab's work, all while realizing how regulatory guidelines come into play.

Webinar

PlayVideo.png The webinar will be held Thursday, June 21 at 1:30 p.m. EDT, and you can register for it here. A recording of this session will be made available on YouTube afterwards.

Slides and transcripts

PDF.png The slides and transcripts for this webinar will be uploaded to Google Drive afterwards.