It is an understatement to say that the implementation phase of a laboratory information management system (LIMS) is critical to the success of your laboratory.
Your LIMS is your lab’s central nervous system, so the implementation must be done right. And, it’s during this phase that the quality of your LIMS vendor partnership will become apparent - either as one that can support your current and future needs or as one that will leave you struggling for years to come.
During LIMS vendor selection and before implementation, key stakeholders at the lab should outline refined, specific requirements for the LIMS, in part, based on collaborative discussions with the selected vendor. The best LIMS vendors will probe deeply into your lab and workflow requirements during the sales process and leading up to implementation. During the implementation phase, the LIMS vendor should then work with your team to test, refine, and implement those requirements prior to final system deployment and training.
Kick-Off & Discovery
All LIMS implementations come with challenges, which is why it’s important to find a vendor that is willing to truly partner and manage the process with you. The vendor should schedule a kick-off meeting soon after the final contract is signed. The meeting will serve as an opportunity to gather additional information and to: 1) clarify any outstanding questions, 2) establish roles and responsibilities, 3) orient the entire team to the LIMS implementation process, and 4) agree on the project milestones and timeline. With the right LIMS partner, the kick-off meeting is largely an administrative, discovery, and planning discussion, recapping much of what both teams discussed in the selection process. Nothing should be a surprise to your team.
Managing Scope, Timeline, & Budget
The best LIMS partner will manage the implementation phase with a great deal of sensitivity to the desired scope, timeline, and budget. No laboratory team wants to see a project timeline drag out for months and months with no end in sight. Regularly scheduled updates and open communication are key. However, it’s not uncommon for the project scope to change as the implementation unfolds. If scope expansion occurs, your LIMS partner should clearly detail the cost and timeline impact and help you assess whether any scope changes make sense in the short run, or if you’re better served delaying those changes until a second phase of implementation.
System Demos to Assess Progress & Training
Your LIMS implementation phase should include several iterative cycles of system demonstrations in milestone meetings to ensure functionality and features are configured to your workflow. Further, a comprehensive training plan should be agreed upon and strictly adhered to by both parties. If your LIMS partner’s team has deep laboratory industry knowledge and expertise, they can also provide best practices from past experiences to assist in the process and ease concerns leading up to the go-live date. On the contrary, less experienced LIMS vendors may seem to disappear during the implementation process, only to re-emerge months later with incorrect system configuration and minimal training for your team, costing your lab irreplaceable time and money.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, a successful LIMS implementation comes down to three important steps:
1. Ask detailed questions about implementation early in sales discussions with LIMS vendors to ensure you select the best partner for your lab.
2. Kick the process off in a timely manner, and keep lines of communication open around scope, timeline, and budget.
3. Conduct regular product demonstrations along the way, and agree to a comprehensive training plan.
Above all, your company needs a LIMS partner with the highest commitment to your success. This is something ApolloLIMS can deliver. With decades of experience, unparalleled support, and comprehensive tools and expertise, we help you perform at a higher level both now and in the future. Contact our team to learn more about the Apollo Alliance.