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The Laboratory Information Management System

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LIMS or the Laboratory Information Management System is an efficient method to handle large amounts of data produced in the modern laboratory. The efficiency comes from the fact that LIMS automates the process of laboratory data storage as well as the data retrieval. One of the biggest challenges a LIMS faces is the migration of data from an old system to a LIMS. Data migration offers a multitude of factors to consider, including factors like cost, time, validation, personnel requirement,

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analysis, training, planning, configuration, etc. This is hugely due to the size of the data, as well as the fact that in an old system, there could be some paper-based data as well that would require migration. Some of the other major challenges include:

  1. Impact of the migration on the continuity of business.
  2. Managing the transition and user acceptance.
  3. Configuring and customizing the LIMS.
  4. The time and cost required for validation and testing of the data and system.
  5. Workforce requirement for the LIMS.
  6. Retrieval of the migrated data.

While data migration seems like a daunting task, there is nothing that a little planning cannot help figure out. Before undergoing any project, many questions can arise. The key to efficient planning is to first recognize and list out the possible challenges that one might face while migrating data. The initial questions should focus on the why and what rather than the how and who of the process. Such questions include:

  1. What is the reason or the motive behind the migration?
  2. What should be the dedicated period of the migration?
  3. What should be the optimal costing dedicated towards migration?
  4. What could be the possible outcomes of the migration?

Once these basic questions are framed, we can move to the second group of questions that tell us about the benefits, the workforce and the plausibility of the migration. Questions like these should be put forward:

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  1. How is the migration going to benefit the overall business development and continuity?
  2. How to select the suitable data for migration?
  3. Is it necessary to group the data before migration? If yes, on what basis should the grouping be processed?
  4. Who and how many are going to be the involved workforce?
  5. Who are the points of contact for both sides of the migration (the vendor and the company)?
  6. How is the system or transfer going to occur, including the planning, performance and the testing of the new LIMS?

Once the questions are set, it becomes easier to address the solutions. The persons involved or responsible can then set to answer each question, and thus generate a working plan for the migration. Proper planning not just makes the transition easier, but also guarantees the quality of service.

Once planned, each question solution complex, and the real-time implantation should be documented. Documentation goes a long way in helping manage complex situations and any problems that may arise in the duration or after the migration. Selection of a vendor should depend on the level of process documentation they offer. Documentations also come in handy when trying to draw experience from previous successful migration projects.

While the decision to migrate comes from the management, the actual operations are handled by the users or the technical workforce. They are the actual end users and thus, should be involved in the decision making as well as implementation process. Adapting to a change or an alien system can be a challenge to many. The management along with the vendors need to make sure the people who are supporting the migration and are the end users, understand the process of migration and of efficient use of the system. Any project, be it small or big, is highly dependant upon the capabilities of the team executing it, and thus, the team should be properly trained in the processes involved. A vendor with a well planned and well-documented process often find it easy to facilitate such training sessions. Also, it is important to keep the technicalities as simple as possible to cut down on training time and reduce chances of possible mishaps.

Once the migration is planned, documented and the responsible workforce is trained, it is time to start the migration. It is important to remember, the migration should adhere to the guidelines listed during the planning and the documentation. While migrating the data, it is important to remember data is each group is different and should be thus, treated differently. Data to be migrated can contain both static system data and historical data. Static system data often contains information about the experimental design and setup like specifications, sample types, experimental tests, reagent information, etc. among others while historical data adheres to the result, the raw data, stability data etc. Historical data, especially, should be done on a case-by-case basis. Historical data can either be used for consultation or as an active result. That means the data migration can either be archived and preserved, or transferred to a new repository for consulting purposes, or under a complete migration to be available for active use.

Migration does not only depend on transferring the data but also on assuring that the data can be easily accessed on the LIMS by the end users. Accessibility depends on characteristics like easy data retrieval, extraction, filtering, analysing etc. Thus, a vendor should implement easy to use commercial tools to aid in data retrieval in the LIMS. These tools not only enable easy access but also provide data analysis, filtering and migration workflow scheduling facilities.

The final step or challenge in data migration lies in the validation of the target LIMS software. Validation is directly related to the level of customisation that a particular system demands as per user requirement. Higher customisations generally require a high level of validation, increasing with it the time and cost dedicated to the validation. A purpose built commercial software reduces this aspect of customization and makes validation simpler. Accessing the associated risks makes validation easier by targetting only the high-risk functionalities of the system. As migration causes a change in the production system, validation is important to ensure the safety of the data migrated and proper functionality of the system. This calls for experience validators with in-depth knowledge of the same in order to avoid any sort of mishaps and possible errors.

Keeping a track on the planning, documentation, training of the workforce, data type consideration, tools for data retrieval and last but not the least, validation of the new LIMS software can make the daunting task of data migration manageable and easy to complete. The trick to an easy migration lies in the above mentioned 6 steps.


CloudLIMS, as a company, believes in helping researchers organize and upscale their research with the help of cut edge technology. Our LIMS system is built exclusively on cloud-based technology, thus, requiring minimal to zero investments in IT setup and resources. CloudLIMS Lite is the perfect laboratory partner you require for automation of the workflows and increasing efficiency of the laboratory. In addition, CloudLIMS lite assists you in managing the complex laboratory operations with ease.

What makes us stand out is that not only do we provide you with the cloud-based LIMS system, we also take the onus of data migration off your shoulders. We offer complimentary or free data migration services to our prized clients to help them make the transition from an old system to the advanced cloud-based LIMS easy and hassle-free. We believe in customer satisfaction and take pride in our customer service.

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