Finding and selecting suppliers for LIMS

As with any new product you’re thinking of buying, there are a number of factors to consider when buying a LIMS. Not only is there a cost and budget to weigh up, but the key requirements also involve system features and functionality – an important measure to consider when selecting a LIMS. Just as integral to the process, however, is the vendor or supplier from whom you buy. Since no two are ever alike, and some lack the credentials to give you peace of mind, it’s a process that requires sound decision-making.

suppliers lims

Here, we’ll delve into the steps you should take when finding and selecting suppliers for LIMS, from things to do at the outset to the final decision and contract negotiation.

1. Current process documentation

To ensure your LIMS vendor selection goes as smoothly as possible, your company must have accurate process documentation to set you on the path to success. This documentation should include example test methods, log books and data sheets, along with batch records that feature sampling information. With this documentation in place, you’ll be able to move forward with a productive requirement-gathering process that allows your team to think about improving the way its laboratory works.

Even before this step, it’s worth determining if your current process is a fit for LIMS. If the way you currently do things is inefficient, adding new software on top of that could only serve to make things worse. Use the project as a way to understand your process, identify what adds value and what doesn’t. Additionally, figure out why you want to go ahead with the process. Is it to stand out from competitors? Is it a chance to develop as a company or, considering LIMS implementation looks great on a CV, as a person?

2. Supplier selection initiation

finding suppliers lims

From here, you’ll need to identify and draw up a complete list of vendors. Contact with key stakeholders is important here, as they’ll need to know the requirements of the LIMS system, understand the priorities for its implementation and whittle down the vendor list in the process. Documentation produced as a result includes a vendor list, project plan, high-level user requirements, and a LIMS vendor scorecard with which to compare potential suppliers.

The ideal LIMS company should be one that can keep up with changing technologies and regulations while offering you new features that will help with compliance. Remember, this will be an ongoing relationship, so a supplier who can help you continuously improve is ideal. It’s not a static, one-time process.

You might want to partner with an unbiased LIMS expert during this stage, too. They can offer an experienced perspective, promote collaboration, and ensure that all requirements are understood and accounted for in the selection process. A partner who’s well versed in quality systems and your industry can help you with requirements-gathering, ensure vendor research goes smoothly, and help identify the right shortlist based on what you need.

3. Request for LIMS vendor information

suppliers for LIMS

Creating a clear, detailed Request for Information is a necessary step in the vendor selection process. A proper understanding of the state of LIMS systems right now, as well as stakeholder objectives, is integral to fortifying the case with your Request for Information. From here, you’ll need to narrow the list of LIMS suppliers. In doing so, a company will familiarise itself with various vendors and a clearer view of functionality comes to the fore. Thus, you’ll need to align the lab’s requirements, whether its sample management, stability management or controlled substance handling, to the right system which might prove difficult to determine.

4. Request for LIMS vendor proposal

suppliers for lims

Once your list of vendors has been narrowed down based on the criteria you’ve defined, now is the time to engage with suppliers in order to arrange initial submissions, demonstrations of the technology and a face-to-face discussion. As you accrue more and more information, analyse their responses using the scorecard you drafted up. What preconfigured packages, validation documentation templates and product development roadmaps do they have? Use this information to inform your decision.

5. Finalising the selection

finding suppliers lims

Here’s where you really re-double your efforts to reach a decision; select the potential contenders that could work best for you and meet with them as much as is necessary. A critical eye is key, as you’ll assess vendor references, analyse and quantify any gaps that you come across and keep subject matter experts and other key stakeholders in the loop to make the decision as definitive as possible.

6. Execution and negotiation

finding suppliers lims

Once your list of vendors has been narrowed down based on the criteria you’ve defined, now is the time to engage with suppliers in order to arrange initial submissions, demonstrations of the technology and a face-to-face discussion. As you accrue more and more information, analyse their responses using the scorecard you drafted up. What preconfigured packages, validation documentation templates and product development roadmaps do they have? Use this information to inform your decision.

What is a LIMS?

The reasons why LIMS projects fail

The LIMS implementation process