The “other” LIMS functions

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The analytical and reporting processes attributed to LIMS (LIS) are well documented and known to analysts, laboratory managers and directors. However, LIMS offer many valuable functions, often not explored, in terms of human resources (HR). As with so many functions in the new ways of business, HR is often not onsite every day, making the functionality that exist even more valuable as it may be accessed remotely. HR capabilities span from recording private records accessible to only a few individuals to the ability to broadcast statements to everyone’s screen.

Based on the requirements for storing security passcodes, training records and electronic signatures, a LIMS offers a valuable and meaningful tool for HR with the inherent ability to store and carefully control information. Commonly, LIMS stores hire dates, training records, gives or takes away an analyst’s rights to perform certain analyses or work in certain sections of a laboratory and the analyst’s electronic signature among other details. In terms of OSHA records requirements, the use of the in-system records go a long way towards satisfying these.

While a LIMS holds a great deal of information in private, it may also provide staff vital contacts to management if/as required. No need to search for slips of paper stuck to a wall in the hallway, staff can easily access contact information quickly. As an example, I still remember getting a call while sitting down to dinner one night that a parr bomb had exploded in an oven in the inorganics laboratory and rushing back to the lab to ensure everything was handled and no one was hurt. In such a situation, having all numbers easily accessible to all staff would have been ideal versus scrambling to remember which wall had the numbers posted on it.

The dashboard and widgets not only personalize the home screen for analysts but also provide a way for notifications to employees to be pushed out, from major holiday schedules to impromptu “Donuts in the breakroom” notes. Simply notifying staff ahead of time can sincerely reduce stressful situations. Such notes may also warn of short holding time samples being brought in by a client late – again, from my lab days, I remember both being the analyst whose Friday evening plans were butchered thanks to unannounced samples and being the manager or had to tell lab staff “Sorry all, guess what…” Notification and warning go a long ways towards harmony.

As well, key performance metrics by department to that of an individual analyst may be pulled and evaluated by management and/or HR. Whether for reward, raise considerations or repercussions depending upon the work performed, the guess work may be removed from the numbers with a couple of queries and a handful of keystrokes. Opinions may vary but numbers do not.

Like a beehive, a laboratory is an ongoing work in progress with many moving pieces with each piece having very directed activities. The LIMS serves as the wax to hold the structure together and providing the necessary silos for analyses. Beyond the main functions, a LIMS offers a great way to both connect the laboratory staff (and keep all bees happy) and securely hold information. HR always has some unique challenges in a laboratory setting but by employing the tools that already exist in the LIMS, grasping many of the needs are in reach – and often not used to their fullest potential.

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