Is your LIMS working hard enough?

17 March 2009

Accelerating the drug development process and bringing more compounds to market faster in order to cut costs is enough of a challenge in itself, but now that has to be done under the restrictions imposed by staffing reductions (sometimes into double-digit percentage figures).

On top of that, many companies are scrutinising the amount of research work that they contract out with a view to restricting its use, or even curtailing it altogether.

In response, most project managers look for the answer in maximising the productivity of their staff, but it is important in so doing that they do not lose sight of the equally important role that their software systems play. Are they helping the collective effort of achieving more with less? And if not, why not?

The current economic climate, in which many hard questions such as these are bound to be asked, will make the shortcomings of systems more than usually apparent.

The Laboratory Information Management System in particular has a central role in every project, so as the workload increases it will really begin to come into its own - or reveal the signs of strain that will put a question mark over its ability to contribute in strained circumstances.

Fortunately LabLogic's own ADME-specific LIMS, Debra, will show itself to be a help rather than a hindrance, thanks to features that increase efficiency and productivity in ways that go beyond merely compensating for reductions in staffing.

For example, it captures raw data either directly from the balance or via sample result files from analytical instrumentation systems, not just saving time and labour but also eliminating the transcription errors unavoidable with manual entry of data. By implication, this also vastly reduces the amount of QC time that has to be spent checking the correctness of data.

When the study is completed, Debra's unique Document Management System produces reports as soon as the last sample has been collected, integrating tables, graphs and text through an automated link to Microsoft Word into a final report template chosen to include all the data required in a format appropriate to the study.

Debra records the document history, highlighting changes between versions, and thereafter data from the study is immediately available online for review at any time, so there is no need for data files and archiving of paper records.

The benefits of these features in a context where labour is in shorter supply than previously are self-evident, but putting an exact value on installing Debra is necessarily considerably more difficult. However, our experience is that most clients report payback a return on investment within 12 - 18 months.

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