The Ultimate Guide to Implementing a LIMS

LIMS integrations illustration

A LIMS (Laboratory Information Management System) is an incredibly powerful tool for a lab, but only if it has been implemented correctly. 

If you want to set your lab up for success (and speed up rather than slow down), a successful implementation isn’t a suggestion; it’s a requirement. Read on to learn more about the LIMS implementation process and how to prepare for it to set your team up for success. 

The Steps to Implement a LIMS

The specific steps to implement a LIMS will vary based on the size and needs of your lab. 

The sequence of steps, and details within them, will vary from platform to platform. At QBench, we like to start by understanding the scope of the implementation. This will depend on the size of your lab, your custom solutions and integrations, instruments, and more, and then we move on to one of three paths:

  • Guided Configuration & Training: In this option, our team trains your team on QBench functionality and also provides co-configuration time to help the lab get off on the right foot with critical systems. This gives you more structured guidance while allowing your team to control the hands-on process of setting up the LIMS.
  • QBench-led: With this option, our team takes an active role in configuring your LIMS. QBench creates requirements with you for the key configuration areas, completes the configuration for you, and then trains you on how everything works for the long-term maintenance of the system.
  • Training-only: With this option, QBench offers training on setting up and configuring your LIMS while leaving the work up to your team. Due to the complexities of many lab setups, this is a rarely used option, as many labs benefit from having our team more directly involved. This option is primarily for customers who have used QBench at a previous lab.

While the steps to implement a LIMS will vary from lab to lab, you can expect the following essential steps:

  1. A kick-off call: This sets the stage for a successful implementation that allows your lab to hit the ground running. 
  2. Settings and configuration setup: We’ll review product configuration options, statuses, and custom fields in QBench to ensure you are ready to receive the data for your workflows.
  3. A review of worksheets and testing: We’ll cover QBench’s worksheet engine and testing features to capture test and batch results and create calculations for Reports. This also includes Protocol Steps and Control management.
  4. Reporting Training: We'll walk you through how to utilize the visual template editor to create your different reports (e.g. CoA, CoC) and insert test result information from the worksheet or result fields along with other key information (e.g. order and customer information, charts).
  5. End-user training: After configuration is complete, we provide training to your technicians to show them how they will use QBench on a daily basis with their workflow.
  6. Go-live: Finally, we’ll wrap things up with a final call to check in on any remaining questions and go live.

Labs using more QBench features will also go through the following optional steps before the End-user training:

  1. Automation setup (optional): Automation is a key advantage in a LIMS, so we spend plenty of time walking through QBench’s automation features and setting things up for your lab.
  2. File Parser setup (optional):  If your lab has a testing instrument that can produce a file output, you can create an in-application file parser to consume the file and place the results on the worksheet to eliminate manual entry of test result information.
  3. Inventory review (optional): We’ll walk through QBench’s inventory management features.
  4. QMS review (optional): We’ll walk you through the setup and compliance features in QBench’s tightly-integrated QMS.
  5. Customer portal setup (optional): We’ll walk you through the customer portal and how customers will create order requests for your approval so your team doesn’t have to enter the information themselves.
  6. Billing & Invoicing (optional): We’ll walk you through how our Billing & Invoicing module help you streamline your accounting, from creating quotes to auto-generating invoices to syncing payment activity to integrating accounting software.
  7. BI Integration(optional): We'll walk you through how our BI (Business Intelligence) integration works so you can turn your valuable LIMS data into insights using powerful data visualization and analysis tools.

Your implementation timeline will differ depending on the size of your team, the complexity of your lab, and the scope of your needs. If you're not using our any of our automations, File Parsers, inventory management, QMS, or Customer Portal features, then you're implementation will skip those steps. Of course we will always help you add those things later if you prefer to start with the core workflow tools and then layer on additional functionality.

How long does a LIMS implementation take? 

The timeline for implementing a LIMS can vary based on several factors: your workflow (sample prep steps, batch testing, quality control process, calculations, reporting, etc.), which modules you’re setting up (e.g., Inventory Management, Quality Management, Billing, etc.), whether you are integrating lab instruments, how many automations you are setting up, and whether you are integrating any third-party software.

The typical implementation timeline for customers setting up workflows, configuring a customer portal, creating report templates, managing inventory, and using our Guided Configuration & Training package is three to four months. Simpler implementations can go faster, and some customers dedicate more time and resources to the project to complete the configuration and training in a matter of weeks. Our team is here to help you hit your goal date for getting a LIMS up and running. We will speak with you about your timeline and recommend the best approach to meeting your deadline. The project timeline will be discussed when scoping your implementation.

We believe a 3-month implementation is best in class compared to most of the LIMS industry. Many second-time LIMS buyers love purchasing QBench because they’ve been through the train wreck of a 9-month to 1-year implementation with a slower vendor. Don’t take our word for it, though. Here’s what the EO Science Lab Supervisor, a customer who had used 7 different LIMS during her career, had to say after a QBench implementation:

QBench is easy to use and understand, allowing laboratory management to configure almost everything with minimal support needed. It is highly configurable while not overwhelming. Implementation is much faster than other systems due to the ease of use and configuration. Plus, QBench is constantly enhancing the product with new features and providing easily accessible help tools.

There are ways to shorten this timeline and factors that can lengthen it. We’ll explore those next. 

What Can Shorten Your LIMS Implementation?

We find that the following can help to speed up a LIMS implementation:

  • Work out your SOPs and workflows beforehand: By thinking through your Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and workflows beforehand, you can speed things up a great deal as we’ll spend more time implementing your processes and less time designing (and then implementing) them.
  • Engage and keep momentum with configuration tasks: Keeping an open line of communication and prompt completion of tasks will allow you to keep your implementation moving smoothly and minimize lags or hiccups.
  • Dedicate more resources to the project: Dedicating more time and/or more people to the project allows you to speed up configuration. Strategically bringing in parts of your team during the training sessions most relevant to them allows them to participate, ask questions, and learn. It also speeds up task completion as you can delegate more across your team rather than leave it to a few individuals.
  • Meet multiple times each week: The more often you can meet with your implementation team, the more ground we can cover from week to week.
  • Paying QBench to accelerate the timeline: You can also pay QBench to complete parts of the LIMS configuration and implementation for you.

If you are looking for an especially speedy LIMS implementation, follow the above tips to help set your lab up for success to hit the ground running. 

What Can Lengthen Your LIMS Implementation?

From experience, more complex lab setups or infrequent meeting times can stretch your implementation timeline out. These may not all be “bad” things, however, the following factors are worth being aware of as you prepare for your implementation:

  • Custom third-party software integrations: The more systems your lab integrates with, the more care we’ll need to take to set things up and ensure your systems are talking to each other correctly. Similarly, working with external vendors that need to be kept in the loop can also stretch things out.
  • Missing configuration meetings or failing to complete tasks: Skipping/punting meetings or failing to follow through on implementation tasks will add time to your implementation schedule.
  • No SOPs set: Newer labs without SOPs or instruments not in place will draw things out, as those need to be ironed out first before your LIMS can be implemented.
  • Long testing/validation process: Lengthy testing and validation processes can stretch out your timeline quite a bit, especially if they need to be run multiple times. 

What Makes For a Successful LIMS Implementation?

Timeline aside, here are ways to set your LIMS implementation up for success out of the gate. These are factors we’ve seen help labs be the most successful when implementing QBench LIMS:

  • Set up your SOPs in advance: Have clearly defined Standard Operating Procedures and a detailed description of their workflows. This will organize your processes and make it much simpler and quicker to set your lab up on a LIMS.
  • Prepare for the work ahead: While our team is here to support and guide you through the implementation processes, the better you can prepare for the work ahead and carve out the time to meet and complete tasks, the more successful your implementation will be. 
  • Show us what you need built: If you have examples of what you want to configure in QBench for worksheets and final reports, our team can make sure everything is set up correctly.

Keep these factors in mind and you’ll hit the ground running in your LIMS implementation.

How to Prepare For a LIMS Implementation

Preparation plays a big role in how successful (and quick) your LIMS implementation is. 

The more prepared you are for each meeting, the more productive your implementation sessions will be, and the sooner (and smoother) your lab can be set up on your LIMS. 

We recommend you have the following items ready to go:

  • Custom data fields specific to your line of business
  • Test result capture (Worksheet) examples
  • Chain of Custody document example
  • Report examples (e.g. COA or Certificate of Analysis)
  • Label examples
  • Pricing sheets (if billing is involved)
  • Instrument file examples for any planned file parsers

Having these items ready validates your lab workflows so that when we meet, any unexpected use cases can be quickly resolved. It also allows more decisions to be made in real time, which keeps the project's momentum high.

Questions to Ask When Before Your LIMS Implementation

Your LIMS implementation is also an opportunity to evaluate your vendor and make sure they are a good fit for your lab. 

The sales process may make your LIMS seem seamless and easy to set up, but by asking a few key questions, you get a better sense of what implementing and using your new LIMS is really like. 

To help you evaluate your LIMS vendor and their implementation process, we recommend asking the following questions:

  • What systems and software do you integrate with? Make sure to verify that your equipment can integrate with the LIMS.
  • How much custom code needs to be written versus configured in the app?some text
    • A follow-up question here might be whether further development support is needed to update workflows or whether your staff can be trained to do it.
  • What is the typical implementation timeline?some text
    • How often do you hit your timeframes?
  • What happens if the implementation goes over the planned timeframe?
  • What are your support hours and SLAs?
  • What is your process for feature requests and feedback?

By asking a few key questions before setting up your LIMS, you ensure that it’s the right fit for your lab and needs and will sustain your lab in the long run.

What separates QBench LIMS from the rest

No two LIMS platforms are the same (check out our guide to the best LIMS among the industry winners). Here’s what makes the implementation process for QBench LIMS different from other industry-leading LIMS platforms:

  • Business-focused design
  • No-code tools avoid brittle custom code
  • Thoughtful module integration
  • Education is our priority
  • Sandbox account to test and onboard new staff

Business-Focused Design

We’re committed to helping labs get more done rather than get bogged down by complex systems and software. Our LIMS is designed to be managed by business users: this means no coding or development experience is required to set up new processes or workflows on QBench LIMS. If your team can use Excel formulas, they will be able to configure worksheets and reports on QBench.

No-Code Instead of Custom, One-off Development

Many legacy LIMS platforms rely on custom code to set up processes. QBench’s modern approach to deep workflow configurability sets us apart. With QBench’s no-code tools, you can easily change workflows as your lab’s processes and requirements change. After working with hundreds of labs, we’ve found that every lab evolves over time, so having a flexible and adaptable LIMS is essential. Being able to update workflows and reports yourself will save you considerable amounts of time and money over the long run. That means you are empowered to make changes post-implementation rather than needing to contact the LIMS vendor or a developer to make changes down the line.

Thoughtful Module Integration

Our modular approach to implementation allows us to be flexible on the pace of your project. We can speed things up or slow things down depending on your needs. Combined with QBench’s many secondary modules that work together, that means we can work with you to find the right pieces of software for your lab and integrate them for your team. Modules you can add include:

  • Inventory Management
  • QMS (Quality Management System)
  • Billing and Invoicing
  • Customer Portal
  • EDD (Electronic Data Delivery) Builder
  • BI (Business Intelligence) Integrations
  • Integrations to many other best-in-class software (from accounting tools like QuickBooks to ERPs like NetSuite to CRMs like Hubspot)

Each can be seamlessly integrated into your LIMS, saving you hundreds of hours of manual work per year.

Education is Our Priority

While we have extensive live training for administrators, we also have a Training Center where anyone can view videos and practice pre-planned generic exercises in a sandbox environment and a Knowledge Base with extensive documentation on how to use the various features within QBench. We train customers on real-world examples whenever possible for maximum effectiveness. Additionally, all product training sessions are recorded so that you or anyone in your lab can reference the training later. These tools can be invaluable to speed onboarding of new staff members to your team.

Free Sandbox Account to Test

Need to test something out or train your new staff? Don’t worry about breaking something in your LIMS, we provide a sandbox for every customer to use for testing and training purposes. We've built numerous import/export tools to allow you to try things out in your sandbox and then easily import those into your production environment. And you get a sandbox instance forever at no extra cost.

Looking for an Easy-to-Implement (Yet Robust) LIMS? Check out QBench

For labs looking to save time, get more done, and scale, a successful LIMS implementation is a must. 

Not only does QBench provide a robust LIMS complete with automation, sample management, and compliance features - our team goes the extra mile to ensure that your lab is set up for success out of the gate. Ready to streamline your lab or curious to learn more about how QBench LIMS can help you? Schedule a demo of QBench today!