Selecting the best Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) for your business may depend upon complex business requirements but the vendor selection process doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Clarkston Consulting’s LIMS vendor selection methodology is based upon five key phases and one overarching best practice.
Step 0: Current Process Documentation
Before you can initiate our 5-step process to a successful LIMS system selection, ensuring your company has accurate and complete process documentation is essential to success. This process documentation would go beyond the required Standard Operating Procedures and would include elements such as example test methods, log books and data sheets, and batch records with sampling information. Having this documentation available prior to initiating your vendor selection can help you facilitate a productive requirements gathering process and allow your team to think more about improving ways of working than how things work today.
Step 1: LIMS System Vendor Selection Project Initiation
To ensure your LIMS system vendor selection goes well, you need to be organized and ensure you have a complete list of vendors identified. Engaging key stakeholders at this phase is important to gather requirements for the LIMS system, understand the priorities for the system implementation, and adjust the vendor scorecard. The most important output of this phase includes the vendor list, project plan, high level user requirements, and a draft LIMS vendor scorecard.
Step 2: Request for LIMS Vendor Information
Building a comprehensive and clear Request for Information (RFI) is a critical step to ensuring your vendor selection will be done correctly. A good understanding of the current system landscape and the stakeholder objectives for a new LIMS system is critical to drafting a strong RFI. Narrowing the list of LIMS vendors requires an investment in becoming familiar with all the different providers and understanding the nuances behind the functionality. Whether you are looking for sample management, stability management, or controlled substance handling, aligning those requirements to the right system is not always easy.
Step 3: Request for LIMS Vendor Proposal
After narrowing your list of vendors, based on your defined criteria, it’s important to actively engage with vendors for the initial submissions, demos, and meetings. As additional information comes in, it’s important to analyze vendor responses using your scorecard. Make sure to look at their preconfigured packages, templatized validation documentation, and product development roadmap as you are considering the different options.
Step 4: Final Selection
In this phase, your goal will be to select the final contenders and conduct as many workshops and meetings needed to make the best decision for your business. Making sure to critically assess vendor references, analyze and quantify any gaps that you find, and keep subject matter experts and other key stakeholders engaged in the decision is necessary for an effective selection.
Step 5: Execution
Once your LIMS system vendor selection is finalized and you start to communicate your decision with vendors, the contract negotiations are ready to begin. You’ll have several options to consider regarding the system implementation – from running a pilot to a big bang approach – each come with their own set of risks and benefits.
Getting alignment and buy-in on the LIMS system selection before the implementation starts is the biggest predictor of a project’s success. You may want to consider partnering with outside, unbiased LIMS expertise during the vendor selection to provide leading-practice perspectives, promote collaboration, and ensure that all cross-functional requirements are understood and accounted for in the selection process. Engaging a partner that is knowledgeable in quality systems, your industry, and that has done it before, will help you to facilitate robust requirements gathering, streamline the vendor research element, and identify the right short-list based on your requirements.