Dear <<First Name>>
Bika Mail 2/22
Cape Town, 2 June 2022. Lemoene
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In an optimum scenario, it is possible to implement standard Bika LIMS in three months, from start-up to going live with trained and confident users. Just that such an environment hardly exists.
The main challenge with LIMS Implementation projects remains finding enough user capacity in the lab to firstly assist with collecting configuration data, and then learn how to use the system with confidence.
Modern web based LIMS installation should not take longer than a few minutes on the cloud - plus half hour to brand it in lab regalia. On-site installations may take a day or two including testing. The lab however loses a week already with hardware acquisition which today is doubtful to bring much benefit.
Be sure to insist on both Test and Production server installations, the secondary LIMS is used for acceptance testing, thereafter as e-learning sandbox for users to uninhibitedly test real life scenarios without hindering production.
No disruptive desktop installations are required, users access the LIMS in their trusted browsers.
Lab technicians should not be required for installation. For on-site installations, an Ubuntu or Debian installation is needed and a secure port opened for remote access by installation techs. Linux installations are dead easy after downloading an installation file on a data stick in Windows or Mac. Opening the port is a one liner.
Linux installations do run like trains, ask any bank, insurance or web hosting company, and up time is normally measured in years.
Regular upgrades, for the LIMS every minor release should be deployed on the Test server - click the upgrade button - for acceptance testing by the lab before migrating it to Production.
With all the configuration data available in spreadsheets massaged into Bika's import format, configuration should not take much more than a week.
Most of the time however, the data is not simple to collect and senior lab staff too busy to see this process run smoothly. The setup has to be built from the ground, including the mundane such as sample containers, to the intricate analysis services in detail - units, decimal precision, LDL, UDL etc. and all the methods and instruments they depend on. In turn they are used in analysis and reference specifications, profiles and worksheet templates.
Having the lab clients and their contacts in a table is a must.
Bika Configuration normally runs into a month. Longer if complex and the lab busy. Still a lot quicker than the proprietary industry norm.
Multi discipline configurations are no-nos, too much duplication and diversification, e.g. the same test on different sample types with different valid range specifications, and more. We recommend a Bika instance per discipline, there are no extra license fees, and the client DB maintained on a LIMS master.
For labs standard to a specific discipline, say Water Quality or Cannabis, pre-configured configurations can be imported and edited. Not always feasible.
With the configuration completed, a first training session with lab users can be done. In big labs with a smaller select group of super users which is more effective. They would've assisted with configuration and have an understanding of the LIMS already.
The lab's Test server is used for the training and users encouraged to continue experimenting there afterwards.
A second training session can be scheduled a few weeks after the first, the lab should have questions by then.
It is assumed that users have time to learn the system, use the test server and make use of online training content. Busy labs are encouraged to dedicate time for this.
For everybody to stay on top, emailed questions are replied to in a lab user group or dedicated Slack channels for faster turnaround.
Normally users discover gaps in the configuration that can be modified to a 100% fit in this period.
It is advised that a few trusty clients are introduced to the LIMS and COAs delivered to them, to catch any teething issues in these functions.
Should everything go well - this is a risky period where the project can slip if users don't have enough time - this phase can be completed to a point where the lab is confident to go into production around the three month mark, formalised with an Acceptance Notice from the lab.
Upon Acceptance, the Test server configuration is cloned onto the neat new Production server and brought on line after a smoke test.
Only standard LIMS implementation is discussed here. If small customisations are identified early, say COA templates or Instrument interfaces, they can be included. Coding runs in parallel to the other tasks, but require testing capacity in the lab and will put pressure on the final delivery date.
Another topic. Labs typically need more support at the beginning. As inhouse skills grow, requirements diminish to zero and professional support is only occasionally needed. Labs can make use of free online content and discussion forums, and ensure they benefit from their own inputs, paying only for support hours actually consumed. Sharp hard working labs benefit.
Also see Open Source LIMS pricing based on the above lab participatory principles.