LIMS have evolved over the years from data management tools to sophisticated software platforms that can automate everything from sample management to reports and even instrument calibration.
The LIMS market has exploded in recent years too, giving labs more options than ever for which LIMS they decide to implement. With choice can come an overwhelming decision: which LIMS should you choose and which feature set suits your lab’s use case?
In this guide, we’ll show you the key features to look for when choosing a LIMS as you look for the right LIMS for your lab.
The LIMS market was estimated to hit $2.3 billion in 2023 as these platforms have been an integral piece of effective and organized labs. Modern labs everywhere are choosing to implement a LIMS, and it’s not hard to see why.
A LIMS can help you with the following:
Each of these features (and more, we’ll cover them in detail later on) provides immense benefits to labs across industries. Here’s a quick sample of the top benefits that come with using a LIMS:
There’s a reason the LIMS market has exploded in recent years - these platforms are extremely valuable in helping modern labs scale. If you haven’t adopted a LIMS yet, here are our favorite reasons to invest in a LIMS:
A LIMS can be a fantastic asset for modern labs looking to get more done at scale, but a LIMS can come in a few different forms. Make sure you choose the right type of LIMS for your lab before comparing features.
LIMS platforms don’t just vary by feature or price - it’s important to pay attention to how the platform is implemented and accessed for your lab.
Since their inception, LIMS have been implemented in various ways depending on how many users you need, where your data will be stored, and how quickly you want to scale.
The three types of LIMS you will encounter are:
A client-server LIMS is a custom-built solution that works best for large laboratories with dedicated IT teams and resources to manage an on-prem (on-premise) server. If you are looking for control over data and a highly customizable system, this is usually a good fit (though note, with custom-built solutions comes development costs which will accrue over time).
For smaller labs looking for a flexible and accessible solution, a web-based LIMS could be a good option. A web-based LIMS is hosted on a web server and can be accessed from multiple locations while still giving control of your data.
Unlike a web-based LIMS, a cloud-based LIMS is hosted on a remote server giving users access to the LIMS online. A cloud-based LIMS is scalable and hosted by a third-party provider making it a cost-effective option for labs that do not have an IT team or developer resources.
For many labs, a cloud-based LIMS is a wonderful option. Many cloud-based LIMS support extensive features (which we’ll cover in the next section), offer security controls, and remove the headaches that come with managing software yourself.
Now that you’ve decided what type of LIMS to select, let's compare features.
When shopping for a LIMS, we recommend you look for these 11 key features:
Let’s walk through each one.
Automation is the top feature we recommend looking for when shopping for a LIMS.
Automation features streamline laboratory processes by reducing manual tasks, which enhances efficiency and accuracy. This enables labs to handle complex workflows and large volumes of data with minimal errors, saving time and resources. Automated systems also ensure consistency in data handling and processing, which is crucial for maintaining high-quality standards in laboratory operations.
We recommend you look for a LIMS with automations that are easy to customize and configure. Many LIMS platforms will claim that their automation features are easy to set up, but in reality, they require custom code and complex customization which can be expensive when you need to make changes.
Instrument integration in a LIMS is crucial for automating data capture and enhancing accuracy.
Instrument integration support enables direct communication between laboratory instruments and the LIMS, ensuring real-time data transfer and minimizing manual data entry errors. This integration not only speeds up the processing time but also maintains data integrity and consistency.
Support for external software integrations is key as well.
The ability to integrate with other software and systems allows for seamless data exchange and continuity between your systems. For example, you can integrate a LIMS with accounting software to manage invoices or integrate your LIMS with your CRM to sync customer data
This connectivity ensures that your lab can adapt to evolving technology landscapes and collaborate effectively across your systems.
Reporting is a key feature to look for in a LIMS as reporting capabilities help turn raw data into meaningful insights.
Customizable reports allow laboratories to analyze trends, monitor quality control, and make informed decisions. Effective reporting tools also aid in meeting regulatory requirements by generating compliant documentation and audit trails, which are critical for maintaining accreditation and public trust.
Not all LIMS have built-in compliance features, that’s where QBench’s built-in QMS is a critical feature to look for.
Quality management and compliance features help to ensure predictable and repeatable quality without having to purchase a separate, costly QMS that doesn't sync data with your LIMS. QBench’s QMS features allow you to:
A LIMS with strong compliance tools reduces the risk of non-compliance penalties and enhances the lab's reputation for reliability and safety.
Efficient sample management is a cornerstone of any LIMS, allowing for tracking and managing samples throughout their lifecycle. This includes logging sample details, tracking storage conditions, and monitoring sample usage. Effective sample management ensures the integrity of the samples and the reliability of the test results, which is crucial for accurate data analysis and reporting.
Inventory management is another cornerstone of a good LIMS, as it allows your lab to Keep track of all consumables, assays, and equipment in one centralized place. Track reagent and consumable lots and use them throughout the sample testing process. Generate barcodes for quick and accurate data input.
A customer portal in a LIMS enhances client engagement by providing them with direct access to their data, test results, and service requests. It offers transparency, improves communication, and allows customers to track their samples' progress. This feature is important for customer satisfaction and retention, as it empowers clients and fosters a sense of partnership.
Support for batch testing comes in handy as it allows your lab to process multiple samples at the same time - saving time and providing an efficiency boost.
Batch testing is especially useful when automated in the event of a test error. Rather than run each test one by one after catching the error, a batch test can save hours. Batch testing streamlines workflows reduces processing times, and ensures consistent application of testing protocols across multiple samples.
Look for a LIMS with billing support as you browse providers.
Billing support allows you to manage invoices, create quotes, and streamline your processes right with your data. This saves time and brings your data together to help your lab be more efficient.
QBench takes security seriously - and your lab should too.
A good LIMS will have features to safeguard your data, generate audit trails, and create electronic signatures. You should also look for a LIMS that is ISO 17025 compatible, HIPAA compliant, and that meets best-in-class security standards with SOC 2 compliance. This ensures that no matter your lab industry, your data is secured with the correct standards in place.
With all of the options available, it can be hard to decide which LIMS to implement with your lab.
There’s one LIMS that supports the above features and more: QBench.
QBench is the leading option for labs of all sizes and many industries looking to get more done and scale. Boasting powerful automation features, the ability to configure your LIMS to adapt to your lab's needs, and a growing list of integrations, it’s no wonder that QBench was awarded numerous badges in 2023 from G2 and is currently #1 on G2’s Highest Rated LIMS in North America list.
Want to dive deeper into which features make up the perfect LIMS for you? Download the free guide: How to choose the right LIMS.
QBench now tops the Highest Rated LIMS in North America list, ranked in 12 G2 Winter 2024 Reports, and won several G2 Winter 20204 badges.
February 14, 2024
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