Posted on Lab Informatics. 27 August, 2018
The digital revolution is rapidly changing the landscape for scientific laboratories. Digital technologies like the internet of things (IoT) and cloud storage are allowing companies to generate and store more data than ever before. Yet, with the arrival of big data, the volume and complexity of data in modern laboratories can make managing this critical asset extremely challenging. Towards this end, Laboratory information management systems (LIMS) have become an invaluable tool in modern scientific laboratories for effective data management.
Data management is certainly important, but scientists also need to comb through all this information in hopes of gaining the insights needed to keep the company competitive and help drive innovation. To accomplish this effectively, good data visualization and analytics capabilities are essential in modern scientific laboratories. Unfortunately, the data visualization and analytics functionality in many commercial LIMS is somewhat rudimentary.
Advanced LIMS data visualization capabilities helps scientists arrange data into innovative visualizations that create a framework for processing information more effectively, highlight the trends and outliers in the data, and make discovering new insights possible. As a result, industry leading companies are investing in a variety of third party data visualization/analytics tools that can be integrated with their LIMS to enable better insights, innovation and business decisions. In this blog, we will discuss how to select the right third-party visualization/analytics tool for your organization, along with some best practice tips for successfully integrating these tools with your LIMS.
Selecting Your LIMS Data Visualization/Analytics Tool
The first step in any successful technology selection process is a thorough Business Process Analysis (BPA) in order to determine the business requirements (i.e., requirements of the end-users and other stakeholders) for data visualization/analytics. This step is critical to ensuring that you select that data visualization/analytics tool that will maximize value for your organization.
Another important aspect of choosing a data visualization/analytics tool is determining how much of the data visualization/analytics requirements can be handled through LIMS functionality. Specifically, a determination will need to be made as to what, if any, data visualization requirements will be handled by LIMS out-of-the-box functionality and/or using the LIMS API in the development of visualizations. Towards this end, each one of the requirements will need to be analyzed and classified as to which are LIMS only vs. third-party application only vs. joint efforts.
Once you know which requirements the third-party tool will need to satisfy, an analysis should be done detailing the pros and cons of each third-party tool under consideration. Some of the areas that should be included in this analysis include:
Depending on the requirements, other questions that may be useful to answer as you evaluate the different third-party tools include:
After reviewing the requirements for the third-party visualization/analytics tool, vendors are chosen for demos, and test scripts and score sheets are developed. Finally, after all vendor demos have been completed and score sheets evaluated, a selection can be made based on a determination of which tool will best meet your business needs.
Integrating Data Visualization/Analytics Tools with LIMS
Integrating a third-party data visualization/analytics tool with your LIMS can be a complex undertaking. Some of the many things that may need to be taken into consideration for this integration include:
Finally, it is critical on an integration project such as this, for regulatory and future maintenance purposes, to create a detailed map of the system installed and/or the changes to the system in use (upgrades) that were made during the project – database fields created, code created or modified, integrations and interfaces, workflows configured, etc.
In today’s fast-moving and highly competitive business environment, scientific organizations depend on effective data visualization and analytics to extract insights from their data that will drive innovation. Given the fact that many commercial LIMS have rudimentary data visualization/analytics functionality, third-party applications that integrate with LIMS are a viable solution to obtain the necessary capabilities. There is much to consider on an integration project of this nature, however. A comprehensive methodology should be applied to select, architect, develop, implement, integrate and validate a third-party data visualization and analytics solution in order to ensure project success.
Astrix Technology Group has been helping scientific organizations select and implement laboratory informatics technology for over 20 years. Our professionals have the industry experience, technology expertise and domain knowledge to effectively support your data visualization and analytics initiatives. If you would like to discuss your data visualization/analytics strategy, feel free to contact us for a free, no obligations consultation.
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