40 Lab Metrics You Need to Track [Download the Full List]

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40 Lab Metrics You Need to Track

From business KPIs to compliance, we’re breaking down the top metrics that labs need to track.

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Why Track Metrics in a Lab?

As they say, what gets measured gets managed.

If you aren’t tracking any KPIs in your lab, it’s difficult to benchmark progress or identify bottlenecks. 

The KPIs we collected are measures of lab performance, including its activities, processes, and services. Tracking the right KPIs ensures that your lab is running smoothly, instruments are correctly calibrated, and your test results are accurate.

The metrics we explore in this article will give you an overview of:

  • Business metrics
  • Operations metrics
  • Quality assurance/quality control
  • Productivity and efficiency
  • Compliance and safety
  • Customer satisfaction

Keeping track of these metrics across your lab will result in an organized and efficient lab that spends less time wondering where things are going wrong and more time getting things done.

Business Metrics Your Lab Should Track

Across industries, labs play a critical role in research and development and product testing, which makes them a major player in the overall health of the business. 

As a result, you need to keep track of revenue, costs, and your bottom line. 

Here are the top business metrics a lab should track:

  1. Monthly, quarterly, and yearly orders
  2. Revenue: month over month and annually
  3. Revenue per sample analysis
  4. Cost for sample analysis
  5. Customer retention

Monthly, Quarterly, and Yearly Orders

Track the number of orders broken down by the past month, quarter, and year to help your lab identify demand patterns and seasonal trends and better allocate resources (and staff) to keep up with demand.

Revenue: Month over Month (MoM) and Annually

Revenue matters - even for labs. It’s vital to track revenue month over month as well as annually, as it helps you keep an eye on the financial performance of your lab and properly estimate your budget.

Revenue per Sample/Analysis

While tracking revenue overall, it’s essential to keep track of where your revenue is coming from. Keeping an eye on revenue per sample/analysis gives you insights into the profitability of your lab’s services and can help you better allocate resources.

The Total Cost of Sample Analysis for Each Test Performed

Keeping track of costs is key to lab profitability. It’s important to understand the cost breakdown for each type of test in order to identify areas where cost optimizations can be made without compromising quality.

Customer Retention

How many customers keep using your lab’s services over time? Keep an eye on the percentage of customers who continue to use your lab's services over time.

Lab Operations Metrics

A smooth and efficient lab is a lab that wastes little time and gets more done. The following metrics are the top lab operations metrics you should be tracking:

  1. Sample throughput
  2. Turnaround time
  3. Test volume
  4. Reagent and Supplies Inventory Turnover
  5. Equipment utilization
  6. Equipment calibration and maintenance
  7. Specimen rejection rate

Sample Throughput

Sample throughput tracks the number of samples processed in a given period. This gives you an overview of your lab’s capacity and volume. Tracking this at different intervals throughout the year allows you to spot trends and allocate resources accordingly.

Turnaround Time (TAT)

A core metric for any lab: how long does it take to go from sample receipt to result delivery? TAT is a critical metric for customer satisfaction and operational efficiency, indicating how quickly the lab completes its analyses.

Test Volume

Similar to sample throughout, keep an eye on the total number of tests performed within a specific timeframe. This metric helps understand the demand for different test types and plan resource allocation accordingly.

Reagent and Supplies Inventory Turnover

As you run through reagents and supplies, you must have a way to measure your inventory usage and status. Inventory management ensures your lab operates without delays and helps you manage storage costs. While some labs may manage inventory with spreadsheets, we recommend investing in a LIMS (lab information management system) to manage inventory, sample tracking, and more.

Equipment Utilization

Labs invest millions of dollars into specialized equipment. To maximize your return on that investment it is important to optimize how equipment throughout the lab is used, ensure peak productivity, and minimize idle time for maintenance or calibration.

Equipment Calibration and Maintenance

Equipment calibration and maintenance are critical as well to ensure your lab equipment and instruments are all functioning correctly and in working order. Failure to measure this leads to delays and inaccurate test results.

Specimen Rejection Rate

The percentage of samples rejected due to improper collection, labeling, transport, or storage. Reducing this rate improves operational efficiency and reduces wastage.

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40 Lab Metrics You Need to Track

From business KPIs to compliance, we’re breaking down the top metrics that labs need to track.

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Quality Assurance/Quality Control Metrics Your Lab Should Track

Quality assurance and quality control help to ensure your lab results are accurate and reproducible and that your lab is compliant with a variety of regulations. Measuring your quality assurance activities helps demonstrate a commitment to quality control and keeps your lab running smoothly and efficiently. 

The top quality assurance/quality control metrics to track are:

  1. Accuracy and precision
  2. Control sample test results
  3. Downtime and response times
  4. Occupational health and safety incidents
  5. Error rates
  6. Error reduction rate
  7. Test reproducibility
  8. Corrective actions for QC failures
  9. Document control and record keeping
  10. Turnaround time for QC issues

Accuracy and Precision

Accuracy and precision get easily mixed up, but there is an important difference between them.

Accuracy refers to how close the test results are to the true value, whereas precision refers to how repeatable the results are. Here’s an illustration of the differences using a dartboard:

Source: https://www.antarcticglaciers.org/glacial-geology/dating-glacial-sediments-2/precision-and-accuracy-glacial-geology/

Both accuracy and precision are critical for ensuring the reliability of lab tests.

Control Sample Test Results

The analysis of control samples with known values alongside patient or environmental samples to ensure the testing system is working as expected. Deviations in control sample results can indicate potential issues with test accuracy.

Occupational Health and Safety Incidents

It’s a good practice to keep up on health and safety incidents in your lab, especially for some industries where lab techs can come into contact with hazardous materials. A lower number indicates a safer working environment for lab personnel and fewer compliance issues.

Error Rates

Not only do errors lower the productivity of your lab, they can put the lives of those who depend on your test results in danger. For example, a clinical lab will go to great lengths to measure the error rates in tests to ensure accurate results and patient safety. No matter your industry, staying on top of error rates and reducing errors can help your lab remain productive.

Error Reduction Rate

In addition to tracking your error rate, it’s worth tracking the rate at which errors are reduced through automation or other process improvements. By automating key systems, you can minimize human errors and increase the accuracy and reliability of laboratory results.

Calibration Verification

This measures regular checks to ensure that instruments are accurately calibrated according to manufacturer specifications and industry standards. Proper calibration is critical for accurate test results. Adherence to scheduled preventive maintenance for laboratory equipment to prevent unexpected failures and ensure consistent performance.

Corrective Actions for Quality Control Failures

This measures the timely identification and correction of issues leading to QC failures, including the implementation of corrective actions and monitoring their effectiveness.

Document Control and Record Keeping

It’s essential to monitor the proper management of documents and records, including test procedures, calibration records, and QC data, to ensure compliance with regulatory standards and facilitate audits.

Turnaround Time for QC Issues

Much like turnaround time for lab tests, the turnaround time for QC issues measures how long it takes to identify, address, and resolve quality control issues in your lab. This shows how responsive your lab is to quality control failures, which impacts the overall efficiency and reliability of lab operations.

For modern labs, a QMS (Quality Management System) can help manage quality assurance and quality control. QBench LIMS has an integrated QMS, bringing your lab data, metrics, and quality control under one roof.

Productivity and Efficiency Metrics Your Lab Should Track

Productivity is a cornerstone of an effective and efficient lab. While many labs would agree they’d like to be more productive, it’s hard to quantify it (or improve productivity) without tracking the following metrics:

  1. Automation efficiency
  2. Tests per full-time employee
  3. Instrument utilization rate
  4. Reagent and supplies usage efficiency
  5. Cost per test
  6. Operational downtime
  7. Work order cycle rate
  8. Occupancy rates

Automation Efficiency

Measures the effectiveness of automated processes in terms of time savings, reduced manual effort, and increased throughput. High efficiency indicates successful automation implementation.

Tests per Full-Time Equivalent (FTE)

This tracks the number of tests performed per full-time staff member. This metric is helpful in assessing staff productivity and optimizing labor costs. It can also be used to understand seasonality and demand changes throughout the year.

Instrument Utilization Rate

The percentage of time that instruments are in use versus the total available time. High utilization rates indicate efficient use of equipment. This can help you better allocate resources as well as budget for new equipment.

Reagent and Supplies Usage Efficiency

This tracks the consumption of reagents and supplies in relation to the number of tests performed. This helps identify wastage and opportunities for cost savings. 

Cost per Test

The total cost associated with performing each test, including labor, reagents, and overhead. This metric is crucial for financial planning and identifying areas where efficiency can be improved.

Operational Downtime

The amount of time that operations halt due to equipment failure, maintenance, or other issues. Reducing downtime is key to maintaining high levels of productivity.

Work Order Cycle Time

This measures the time it takes to complete a work order from initiation to closure. This helps in understanding workflow efficiency and identifying bottlenecks.

Occupancy Rate

For labs that manage space and equipment booking, the occupancy rate measures the effectiveness of laboratory space and resource utilization. This can be especially useful in estimating headcount and the growth of your staff.

Compliance and Safety Metrics Your Lab Should Track

Compliance is key to keeping your lab working smoothly and efficiently. Failure to comply with standards can slow you down and cause serious downstream effects throughout your lab. 

The compliance metrics we recommend tracking are:

  1. Data integrity
  2. Regulatory compliance rate
  3. Safety incident rate
  4. Training completion rate
  5. PPE compliance rate
  6. Waste management compliance rate
  7. Chemical and reagent storage compliance rate

Data Integrity

Data integrity issues can lead to serious downstream effects and compliance issues. Ensure your lab’s software and systems uphold data integrity and comply with relevant industry regulations and standards.

Regulatory Compliance Rate

The percentage of compliance with relevant local, national, and international regulations and standards. This includes adherence to protocols for lab practices, data management, and reporting.

Safety Incident Rate

The number of recorded safety incidents or accidents per a certain amount of time/lab hours worked. This metric is crucial for assessing the effectiveness of safety protocols and training.

Training Completion Rate

The percentage of mandatory safety and compliance training sessions completed by staff. This metric ensures that all personnel are up-to-date with the latest safety protocols and regulatory requirements.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Compliance Rate

The rate at which staff comply with PPE requirements is critical for preventing exposure to hazardous materials and conditions.

Waste Management Compliance Rate

Adherence to protocols for properly disposing of hazardous and non-hazardous waste, including biological, chemical, and radioactive materials. This metric is key for environmental safety and compliance.

Chemical and Reagent Storage Compliance

Adherence to guidelines for the safe storage of chemicals and reagents, including proper labeling, segregation, and condition of storage areas.

Customer Satisfaction Metrics Your Lab Should Track

Happy customers keep a business running smoothly (and improve business metrics like growth, revenue, and customer retention). We recommend tracking the following customer satisfaction metrics:

  1. CSAT or NPS
  2. Customer complaint resolution time
  3. Quality of customer support

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) or Net Promoter Score (NPS)

A direct measure of customer satisfaction through surveys that ask clients to rate their satisfaction with the lab's services on a scale. It's a straightforward metric that provides immediate feedback on client perceptions.
Measures customer loyalty by asking clients how likely they are to recommend the lab's services to others on a scale of 0-10. Scores are then classified into Promoters, Passives, and Detractors, providing insights into customer loyalty and the lab's overall reputation.

Customer Complaint Resolution Time

The average time it takes to resolve a customer complaint is a critical customer satisfaction metric to track. Faster resolution times are generally associated with higher levels of customer satisfaction.

Quality of Customer Support

This measures the effectiveness, responsiveness, and friendliness of the customer support team. High-quality support is essential for resolving issues and maintaining positive customer relationships.

QBench LIMS comes with a customer portal, making it easy to provide a self-service way for customers to submit requests, view status reports, and more!

Download the Guide: The Ultimate List of Lab Metrics to Track

Think of this guide as a helpful reference and starting point for the key metrics any lab should start tracking. 

This guide, complete with definitions, is designed to help you make informed decisions and enhance your lab's performance. While a lengthy list of metrics may seem overwhelming, we’d recommend walking through these to benchmark your lab and spot the immediate areas for improvement. This will give you a plan you can follow and a way to start tracking and demonstrating improvement. 

Complete the form below to get a downloadable list of these metrics to save and share with your team.

Free Guide

40 Lab Metrics You Need to Track

From business KPIs to compliance, we’re breaking down the top metrics that labs need to track.

Enter Your Name & Email to Get the PDF

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