In an earlier article, we reviewed the top sample management requirements for LIMS / ELN laboratory systems RFPs.
Laboratories rely on Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) and Electronic Laboratory Notebooks (ELN) to manage and streamline their workflow processes. LIMS and ELN systems are designed to improve laboratory efficiency and ensure compliance with regulatory standards. When selecting a LIMS or ELN, it is essential to understand the specific Request for Proposal (RFP) requirements of the laboratory’s workflow. This article will explore the critical requirements for laboratory workflow design and how they should be incorporated into a LIMS/ELN RFP. By outlining these requirements, laboratories can ensure they select a LIMS/ELN system that meets their specific workflow needs, allowing them to work more efficiently and accurately.
Workflow templates: LIMS / ELN workflow templates refer to pre-built workflow designs that can be reused or customized for different experiments or processes. These templates are designed to save time and ensure consistency in how experiments are carried out.
Workflow design: This refers to designing a laboratory LIMS / ELN workflow that outlines the steps, procedures, and activities involved in an experiment. The workflow design should be done to meet the laboratory’s specific requirements and enable the effective management of data and sample tracking.
Workflow editing and updates: This refers to the ability to modify, update, or make changes to a LIMS / ELN workflow after it has been created. This feature is vital to ensure that workflows can be adjusted based on changes in experimental conditions or new requirements that emerge.
Workflow instrument compatibility: This requirement ensures that the laboratory workflow is compatible with the specific instruments used in the experiment. The compatibility of the workflow with the instrument is essential to ensure that the data generated is reliable, consistent, and accurate.
Workflow documents: This refers to the documents associated with the LIMS / ELN workflow, such as SOPs, protocols, and experimental reports. The documents should be linked to the workflow to ensure they are easily accessible and help provide a complete overview of the experiment. A workflow SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) is a document that outlines the steps, procedures, and activities involved in a laboratory workflow.
Workflow automation: This requirement involves automation to streamline the workflow and reduce manual errors. This can include a) automatic plate setup of samples, including any needed replicates and quality controls and standards, b) automatically passing instrument control instructions to robotics, c) automatically reading results from lab processing into structured records associated with the proper samples, and d) automatically assessing lab results data and queueing samples for reprocessing if necessary.
Workflow rules engine: This refers to the use of a LIMS / ELN rules engine to ensure that the workflow is carried out consistently. The rules engine can help enforce standard protocols, check for errors, and ensure that the experiment meets the required standards.
Workflow lifecycle status and tracking: This requirement ensures that the workflow can be tracked through its entire lifecycle, from creation to completion. The status of the LIMS / ELN workflow should be clearly indicated, and the ability to track progress and monitor completion is essential to ensure that experiments are completed on time and meet the required quality standards.
Workflow queues: This refers to the ability to organize and prioritize workflows based on their urgency, complexity, or other criteria. The use of workflow queues ensures that experiments are completed in a timely manner and that resources are allocated effectively to ensure that the most critical experiments are prioritized.
Laboratories use Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) and Electronic Laboratory Notebooks (ELN) to manage their workflow processes efficiently and comply with regulatory standards. When selecting a LIMS or ELN, laboratories should consider specific Request for Proposal (RFP) requirements, including workflow templates, design, editing and updates, instrument compatibility, associated documents, automation, rules engine, lifecycle status and tracking, and queues. Incorporating these requirements into the RFP can help laboratories select a system that meets their needs, allowing them to work accurately and efficiently.