Thermo Scientific™ SampleManager LIMS™ is unique in that it delivers laboratory management, analytical data management (SDMS), industry-leading instrument and system integration, and procedural execution (LES) capabilities in a single solution. With it wide-ranging capabilities, SampleManager (SM) is frequently implemented as a global solution in multiple locations across an enterprise, and also in different laboratory types such as QA/QC, R&D and others.
SampleManager LIMS™ is continuously upgraded to meet the changing needs of laboratories across all industries – pharmaceutical QA/QC, food and beverage, oil and gas, petrochemical, water and environmental, manufacturing, contract labs, and more. Each new release of SampleManager contains new functionality that is built upon feedback and customer input from these sectors, and this ensures an upgrade path that respects your previous investment while allowing you to take advantage of collected industry knowledge to respond to changing business or regulatory demands.
SampleManager LIMS™ offers the potential for significant operational and business benefits for your organization. There are, however, important considerations to take into account when implementing or upgrading the SampleManager solution in order to realize its full potential to transform your laboratory operations, improve organizational agility, and unlock the power of your laboratory data. In this blog, we’ll discuss key best practice recommendations to follow during your SampleManager implementation or upgrade that will ensure your project maximizes success in ensuring compliance, streamlining processes, improving quality, reducing costs, and driving productivity and innovation in your laboratory environment.
The following best practices are recommended when undertaking a SampleManager LIMS™ upgrade or implementation:
Make the Most of the “Out-Of-The-Box” Features of SampleManager: SampleManager has a wide variety of system configuration features that can likely meet the needs of your laboratory today and into the future. SampleManager (SM) version 11 specifically features several advanced new tools and user-interface enhancements that serve to improve laboratory management, process mapping and automation. Best practice is to examine and understand all these features, and utilize as many of them as you can in your implementation to meet your requirements and simplify implementation. Some examples include:
Workflow and Lifecycles (SM 11): SampleManager’s unique workflow capabilities are designed to empower lab users and managers by allowing them to easily build workflows that map to actual laboratory processes and make choices about instrument integration and reporting for regulatory requirements or management metrics. Workflow features allow laboratory users and managers to perform specific actions and/or designate statuses for any dynamic or static data, create elaborate decision trees, automate email and reporting. As laboratory needs evolve, workflows can be modified to mirror the new process.
Report, Label and Form Designer (SM 10): Allows laboratory users and managers to create custom reports and labels, filters and folders for organizing data, and new database fields. Also allows users to change or create new forms that enable setting the data as desired.
Inventory Tracking: SM has the ability to track almost any commodity, stock, or standard solution to let users know where inventory comes from, where it is used, and when it expires.
Instrument Calibration and Training Tracking: SM can do the work of tracking training and instrument calibrations for you. The software has the ability to alert users if training is out of date or an instrument is out of calibration.
Avoid Customizations Unless They Are Really Required: Astrix SM experts have experienced several implementations where extensive customizations to satisfy requirements have dramatically extended project duration. Writing new or changing existing code in VGL (SM proprietary language) or ,NET, besides making the project more expensive and time-consuming, can increase the complexity of future maintenance/migration/validation, and potentially lead to system errors. SM comes with a lot of configurable items that can usually be adjusted to meet the lab’s requirements without the need for customization.
Designate Appropriate Internal and External Resources for Project Implementation: In addition to making a good decision regarding which external informatics consultant to work with on a SM project, it is crucial for organizations to assign motivated and skilled internal resources to a SM implementation or upgrade. Significant collaboration between quality external and internal resources is required for the success of any SM project. Collaboration must occur to determine project requirements, as well as configure static data, templates and data analysis.
Make sure you plan on designated internal resources spending time on the project, which means they will be less available for their day jobs. The best external consultants can help you backfill your laboratory staff for the duration of the project so that it does not disrupt productivity in the laboratory. Note that internal staff assigned to the project team will develop a lot of SM knowledge and turn into internal “LIMS Admins”.
Iterate Your Implementation: Given the extensive configurability of SM, users often don’t know exactly what is possible or how SM works, so it’s wise to implement SM in stages, with the first iteration being the minimum viable solution to go into production with. Be reasonable and don’t try to achieve everything on the first project iteration. After users get to experience the first version, they can suggest changes and adjustments that they want to see for the next iteration. This iterative approach both shortens the time it takes for internal staff to start using the system and avoids frustrating expectations early in the project.
Iterating your implementation also makes any future upgrades/updates necessitated by a changing environment (regulations, data integrity, new users, etc.) easier due to:
- Already have internal SMEs to help define a wish list and possible project pat
- Validation of core functions is already completed
- When Appropriate, Use Virtual fields (SM 10 and later versions) Instead of Actually Creating Fields in the Database: Virtual fields are not stored in a database and can include any calculation allowed by .NET code – text aggregation, sum of amounts, reporting fields, timeline planning for samples, etc. In addition to allowing much more flexibility, virtual fields avoid creating unnecessary database overhead.
Create Good Project Documentation: For regulatory and future maintenance requirements, the owners of the SM system need to document all the relevant changes to the system after the project ends – database fields created, code created or modified, integrations and interfaces, workflows configured, etc. Working with a quality external informatics consultant makes this easy, as they will provide the documentation for you. Documentation provided by Astrix on SM projects includes:
- Project Plan – responsibilities, communication plan, work schedule, etc.
- Requirements Traceability Matrix – requirements description, categorization (standard/configuration/customization), design ideas, prioritization.
- Functional/Design Specification – relevant technical changes to the system and/or system architecture.
- Testing Documentation – IQ/OQ/PQ scripts or protocols for validation (required for regulated laboratories). Note that whether the laboratory is in a regulated environment or not, Astrix always does system validation.
The Astrix Team contains some of the most experienced and knowledgeable SampleManager experts in the world. Our team has proven expertise in project management, implementation, integration, validation and system optimization for SampleManager LIMS™ across all industries. Our accomplished consultants also have a wealth of experience across various organization types, helping to ensure that business-specific needs, along with industry and regulatory requirements, are taken into consideration on your project.
As your laboratory needs evolve due to regulatory or business changes, it is often necessary to begin to utilize new features of SM that have not been previously used, or upgrade to a new version that has the functionality to fulfill your changing requirements. Whether you need to implement SampleManager LIMS™ as a new system, optimize or adjust your current implementation, or upgrade to a new version, Astrix can help ensure that any new configuration or customization of SM is accomplished in the most efficient, cost-effective and timely way that satisfies your present and future requirements.
Let us help you with:
- Strategic planning to make sure that your implementation/upgrade project satisfies production, operational and financial goals.
- SampleManager LIMS™ configuration or customization
- Instrument integration with SampleManager LIMS™
- Computer system (e.g., laboratory, business and manufacturing system) integration with SampleManager LIMS™
- Data migration from legacy systems to SampleManager LIMS™
- SampleManager LIMS™ training for key personnel
- SampleManager LIMS™ validation services
- Scientific and Technical Staffing Services to backfill laboratory staff so that your SM project does not disrupt operations.
From smaller individual lab deployments through global multi-site implementations, SampleManager LIMS™ has the ability to meet your laboratory needs in a single application. While the potential for this system to help increase productivity and innovation in your laboratory environment is great, it is important to work with a quality laboratory informatics consultant who has the necessary experience with SampleManager in order to realize its full potential.