Why Your Lab Should Invest in a LIMS

LIMS integrations illustration

You’ve probably heard this story: modern labs can process more data than ever before, but with more data comes a higher risk of errors and costs. 

Labs still trying to manage data and inventory with pen, paper, or spreadsheets run the risk of data entry errors and failing to meet regulatory compliance standards. For labs looking to scale, leveraging software is a must. 

A LIMS is an excellent platform to add to your lab’s software budget, so read on to learn more about what a LIMS is, how it can benefit your lab, and the benefits of investing in one.

What is a LIMS?

The LIMS (laboratory information management system) market has grown considerably over the years as labs rely on these platforms to do everything from sample tracking to billing and inventory. 

In fact, 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. A LIMS can help you with the following:

  • Sample tracking and management: A good LIMS will be an excellent asset for efficiently managing high volumes of samples from receipt to reporting. 
  • Workflow automation: Look for a LIMS with automation features that allow you to streamline and ensure data integrity.
  • Data integration and reporting: A LIMS can provide centralized storage and easy access to laboratory data, enabling quick report generation and historical data retrieval.
  • Instrument integration: For a lab with many types of instruments, a LIMS can be invaluable when it comes to seamlessly connecting them while automating data capture.
  • Compliance and documentation: While not every LIMS can support quality management and compliance, some (like QBench) provide out-of-the-box features to help labs meet regulatory requirements.

With these features come numerous benefits to labs across industries.

How a LIMS Can Benefit Your Lab

A LIMS can be extremely beneficial to a lab looking to get more done and scale. Here are our favorite benefits that come with adopting a LIMS:

  • Accessibility anytime, anywhere: With cloud-based LIMS, lab personnel can access data and workflows from anywhere, provided they have an internet connection. In the ever-increasing popularity of remote work, this ensures uninterrupted data access even when away from the lab.
  • Scalability on demand: As your lab grows or needs change, cloud-based LIMS (like QBench) can easily scale up or down and adapt to support your processes. 
  • Digitization and automation: A LIMS is invaluable when it comes to digitizing and automating your lab and its processes. A LIMS can help you digitize sample and test management while automating reports and workflows to streamline your operations.
  • Improved compliance: Some LIMS (like QBench) offer features specifically geared towards compliance. While a LIMS is different from a QMS, it can help you meet certain regulatory requirements as well as maintain quality control.
  • Billing and invoicing support: QBench LIMS has built-in invoicing support, allowing you to generate quotes and invoices as well as integrate with your accounting software.

Each of these benefits helps a lab streamline its processes and get more done. If you are new to investing in software for your lab, next we’ll cover how a LIMS is different from another popular option - an ELN.

How is a LIMS Different From an ELN?

ELNs (electronic lab notebooks) are another common option for labs looking to digitize their data, but they serve a distinct purpose from a LIMS.

Recall that a LIMS can help with managing sample/test data, automating workflows, generating reports, and integrating instruments. In short, a good LIMS is an automation powerhouse that will allow your lab to do more and scale. 

While an ELN can help a lab digitize its operations, it primarily serves as a digital version of what a physical lab notebook provides. You can manually input data into an ELN and record notes and observations from tests; however, ELNs don’t offer the same reporting and automation capabilities as a LIMS.

Therefore, an ELN is not a suitable replacement for a LIMS though it can be a good complementary product. For labs looking to automate and scale, a LIMS is the clear choice and a worthy investment.

7 Reasons Why Your Lab Should Invest in a LIMS

Clearly, a LIMS can be a great value-add for a lab looking to scale, but we’d like to call our seven key reasons your lab should consider investing in a LIMS:

  1. Improve data management
  2. Increase efficiency and productivity
  3. Improve compliance
  4. Reduce errors
  5. Customize your workflows as your lab grows
  6. Optimize lab resources
  7. Improve collaboration

Improve Data Management

A core function of a LIMS is centralizing and managing data. A LIMS brings together data from:

  • Test results
  • Sample tracking
  • Instrument outputs

And it centralizes this data in one place for your team.

This eliminates the need for multiple spreadsheets or paper records and provides a source of truth for your lab. A LIMS’ ability to integrate with other software and instruments means data can be directly imported, reducing the need for manual data entry and the associated risks of errors.

Increase Efficiency and Productivity

Automation is a key benefit of a LIMS, and for good reason: it can streamline your operations and lead to a dramatic increase in productivity (read more about the ROI of a LIMS further on). 

Routine tasks such as sample logging, tracking, and reporting are automated, freeing up your staff to focus on more complex and intellectually demanding tasks. Automated workflows also mean that processes are standardized, reducing variability and increasing reproducibility. The time saved through these automated processes can lead to higher throughput and productivity in the laboratory.

Quality Control and Compliance

Compliance with regulatory standards and quality control are critical for laboratories, especially those in highly regulated industries like pharmaceuticals, healthcare, and environmental testing. 

A LIMS can help you ensure processes are in line with these standards, as well as provide tools for monitoring and documenting quality control measures. QBench LIMS comes with a built-in QMS to help labs automate compliance along with their processes and data.

Reduce Data Errors

Mistakes happen - it’s a fact of life, especially for labs that manage large volumes of data.

A LIMS reduces these errors by automating data capture from instruments and enforcing consistent data entry through predefined fields and forms. This not only improves the accuracy of the data but also ensures consistency across different users and batches of work. The reliability of results is thus enhanced, which is vital for making informed decisions based on laboratory data.

Customize Workflows as Your Lab Grows

Not only will a good LIMS help you automate your workflows, but it can also scale with you and adapt as your lab grows. Some LIMS providers will claim that they offer “configurable” automation tools however in reality changes to these workflows require custom code or extensive support, which can become expensive in the long run. 

This is where QBench LIMS is different: QBench offers configurability and flexibility through a low and no-code automation system that allows you to automate almost any process you can imagine without the overhead of custom code. No matter how your lab evolves, the right LIMS can support you as you scale. Learn more about how to automate your lab with a LIMS for a deeper dive.

Resource Optimization

A LIMS can be an excellent asset in managing and optimizing resource usage in a lab. Not only does this save valuable time in keeping track of your resources, but it can save money by preventing waste as well. 

By tracking sources like:

  • Reagents
  • Samples
  • Equipment 

You can monitor stock levels, expiration dates, equipment calibration, and more to ensure your lab has everything it needs to run smoothly. This reduces the time spent worrying about inventory, freeing up your team to get more done. 

Enhanced Collaboration and Communication

As distributed teams become more common, it’s critical that your staff be able to have access to key data and collaborate wherever they are. 

A cloud-based LIMS provides a centralized platform to streamline and share your data and makes this data accessible no matter where your team is based. This provides controlled access to sensitive data, ensuring that only authorized personnel can view critical information. 

What is the ROI of a LIMS?

All this talk of investing in a LIMS is great, but you’d be right to ask what the return on this investment could be. 

It’s a great question, so let’s crunch the numbers. 

First let’s assume the average lab tech is paid a salary of $60K, which would equate to $29/hour. QBench LIMS can save a lab significant time by reducing errors and time spent manually entering data, and we’ve estimated that these time savings can be up to 7.5 hours per week per user.

Steps to estimate the ROI of QBench LIMS, assuming your lab has 20 technicians who work 48 weeks/year:

  1. Calculate the hourly rate (we’ll assume $29)
  2. Multiply by time saved per technician (7.5hrs per week x 48 weeks)
  3. Multiply by the number of users (in this case, 20)

That results in $208,800 saved each year. When we subtract roughly $51,000 for QBench, it gives us an estimated return of about $157,800 and an ROI of 157,800/51,000 = 309% per year. That’s a spectacular return!

Of course, this will change depending on the size of your lab and the features used, but it gives a solid ballpark estimate for what your return on investing in QBench LIMS could be.

It’s difficult to put a dollar value on avoiding the potential headaches, suspensions, and fines that could result from noncompliance with regulations, but any lab manager or quality director understands there is significant value to staying compliant.

Make Sure You Invest in the Right LIMS

Once you’ve decided to invest in a LIMS, then it’s time to make sure you invest in the right LIMS. 

No two platforms are the same, and some may boast of user-friendly automation features but in reality, they require custom code to implement which can slow you down and increase costs as your lab’s processes evolve.

QBench consistently earns top marks on G2 for its wide variety of functionality, user-friendly tools, and quick implementation. It’s no surprise then that QBench ranks among the best LIMS on the market. 

Click the button below to schedule a demo and see QBench LIMS in action for yourself! For labs looking to scale, the right LIMS could be the best investment you make this year.