A Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) is essential for running a modern and efficient lab. A LIMS can increase efficiency, streamline data collection, improve workflow, reduce errors, automate reporting, help ensure compliance, increase employee morale, ease the cost of employee turnover, and much more.
An enterprise LIMS system doesn’t have a set or standard cost because just as each lab has its own unique needs, each LIMS will have unique features to address those needs. Because each LIMS solution is specific to each business, the costs to implement them will vary. The cost of LIMS will depend on the features your lab needs, the number of users, number of instruments, the number of custom reports, the systems in which it needs to integrate, and the level of configuration and customization required to meet your labs specific processes and needs.
Different combinations of these variables can lead to drastically different costs. For example, Labworks has implemented LIMS solutions for some customers for as little as $20,000 and for others, the price was over a million dollars.
The important thing to remember is that your LIMS is an investment. Upfront costs are just one factor in its overall value; it’s important to remember that improvements in efficiency and convenience will save you time, money, and headache and the return on investment is almost immediate, especially if you are currently using paper or excel spreadsheets.
We will break down the cost in the following answers to common questions about the cost of LIMS.
Is LIMS expensive?
To get the real value out of your LIMS, it is best to work with an experienced LIMS partner like Labworks who has been a leader in LIMS solutions since 1985. Choosing a LIMS vendor is probably the most important driver of cost so we will take a moment to talk about the types of vendors. Also, as important as the software capabilities are, because you will likely be using your LIMS solution for many years to come, it is equally important to partner with a LIMS provider that you like and that you trust. There are three main types of LIMS providers.
The first type of LIMS provider are the “Big guys” which are usually part of one of the large instrument providers like Abbott, Thermo Fischer, and LabWare. LIMS solutions from these types of LIMS vendors are usually very robust and very flexible but they are also very expensive, complex, and difficult to implement and maintain. Also, because these LIMS solutions are part of much larger companies, getting good, personalized, and timely support may be difficult. These vendors typically do not work with smaller customers/labs, although because of their constant need to grow, they are starting to go after smaller customers.
The second type of LIMS vendor is the “Mid-tier” vendor such as Labworks. These vendors are solely LIMS companies and their employees are LIMS experts. The mid-tier solutions are sometimes slightly less robust and flexible than the “Big guys”, but they are much more affordable, less complex, and easier to maintain.
The third type of vendor is the “Newby” which has entered the LIMS space in the past 1-10 years. These vendors typically have only a few customers and do not have the most robust or flexible products. Also, these vendors usually focus on one or two industries and do not heavily invest in their products. Often they build their products while they are implementing the solution for a customer.
WARNING: As the LIMS industry becomes more and more competitive, there is a saddening trend where many vendors will say they do everything and provide a very low price just to get “In the door”. Once they are in, they will charge for every little item in order to make the money they need to make. Some vendors do this because they know that once they are in, it will be difficult to be removed. Please be aware of this as you consider the best partner for your lab.
We mention the above types of vendors and give the warning because the vendor you choose is THE biggest factor in the cost and success of your LIMS solution.
What are the main costs associated with a LIMS?
There are two main categories of costs that need to be considered namely, Implementation costs and ongoing support and maintenance or subscription costs.
As its name implies, Implementation costs include the software costs and the services needed to install, configure or customize, and train users sufficiently to “Go-Live” with the new system. Often times the services cost is as much or more than the software costs and costs vary based the following items:
- Number of labs – The more labs you implement and how different they are in their processes will impact the costs. We recommend starting by implementing an initial lab and then expanding from there. If each of the subsequent labs is similar to the first, the services should be limited to a few days to set up and train users. If subsequent labs are different their related services may be as much as the initial lab. Again, we recommend that you start with one lab to get the LIMS into use and then tweak/optimize the system as you implement to other labs.
- Number of modules – Of course you have to implement the core modules needed to support your lab processes. But some modules such as inventory management, automated workflows, complex reporting can wait for another phase. It is often better to get the system in, work out kinks, and get early value rather than over complicating the initial implementation. Also, your users can only absorb so much change. We often say, “Incremental improvement is better than postponed perfection.”
- The number of test methods your lab performs – The more methods you have the more time will be required for implementation and training. Sometimes it is best to go with the test methods that make up 70%-80% of your work and then expand from there. Sometimes it’s not worth waiting for all of your methods, so implement as you go especially if you are transitioning from paper or excel to a LIMS.
- Custom reports – Every company wants its own reports no matter how many or how good the out-of-box reports are. Custom reports can be very simple or very complex and they can take a day or 10 days depending on complexity. So again start small and grow.
- Do as much as you can – The more you have your LIMS provider do the more expensive your implementation costs will be. If you pick the right LIMS partner and your designated administrator(s) are well trained, you should be able to perform most of the configuration work with just guidance from your LIMS provider. This is one way to drastically reduce your implementation costs. The LABWORKS LIMS solution is designed to be administered by a lab person and it does not rely on IT or other technical resources to maintain it. Designate a good admin and make sure they get trained upfront and perform part of the LIMS implementation tasks.
Do you pay per user for LIMS?
The number of users will affect your laboratory information management system price, but the licensing models vary. Some LIMS license “Named” users and others offer “Concurrent” user licenses.
A named user license is specific to an individual person. With this model, you buy or lease a software licensing for each person who uses your LIMS. This is the most common type of licensing by large software companies like Microsoft, SAP, Salesforce.com, etc.
Concurrent user licenses is based on the number of users that are logged in at the same time. Each user is still set up with their own login credentials but they only consume a license when they log in to the system.
The best model for your lab may depend on the number of shifts you schedule and how much they overlap. For example, if your lab only works one shift per day, you may not need to license as many people as a lab that works three shifts a day.
Are there different types of pricing models for LIMS?
Yes. LIMS have different pricing models.
We already discussed the Named vs. Concurrent pricing options but often there are different license types based on the role of the user such as an administrator, analyst, scientist, manager, etc. For example, LABWORKS offers an Administrator license that has full capabilities, a “Full user” license that allows the user to enter and edit data, and a “Read-Only” user license that only allows users to view data, run reports, etc. but not enter or edit data.
In addition to the different user type licenses the overall system may be licensed by a “Perpetual” license or a “Subscription License.
Under the subscription model, you lease the software by paying an annual subscription fee which includes support and maintenance. Ongoing service costs are included in your subscription fee. This option is more affordable initially but may cost more in the long run. Also, the subscription model is often associated with Hosted or Software as a Service (SaaS) architectures.
With perpetual licenses, you buy the licenses and own the software. The perpetual model costs more upfront. If you want to maintain a service relationship beyond the initial purpose, you’ll need to pay an Annual Support and Maintenance (ASM) fee. The ASM fee is usually 20-25 percent of the initial cost of LIMS software (E.g. if LIMS software cost $100,000, the ASM = $20k-$25K annually). Perpetual licenses models are usually associated with “On-premise” architectures which means you host the software in your company’s data centers or corporate cloud.
As mentioned, Subscription is less up front and more over time while perpetual is more up front and less over time. LABWORKS offers both options and in the LABWORKS pricing model, the two options usually break-even at the end of year four.
If you have further questions about various pricing models on LIMS, contact LABWORKS. They can go over which LIMS pricing models will work best with the specifics of your lab.
What’s included when you buy LIMS software?
Your LIMS software can come with a lot of different features and modules. The features included with your specific LIMS will depend on your lab’s needs.
LABWORKS can create a LIMS that delivers everything your lab needs. Manage your samples, analysis, projects, instruments, personnel, documents, and compliance on one integrated system. That same system can also handle your entire laboratory sample management workflow, QA/QC, Statistical Quality Control charting, label design and bar coding, violation handling, and reporting.
With all of these processes working together in one system, your team can work more efficiently and securely. These efficiencies and conveniences also make growing into new research areas much simpler. You won’t need to create a new process or system. You can simply add to your proven, streamlined system.
Some of the great features you can implement into your system include the following:
- Sample life-cycle management
- Sample scheduling
- Sample Collecting
- Results entry including instrument interfaces
- QA/QC batch management
- Specification management including specification violation workflows
- Work Order management
- Project management (R&D)
- Instrument management
- Personnel management
- Compliance management
- Auditing and eSignatures
- Automated reporting
- Instrument integration
- Mobile LIMS access
- Process error alerts
- Workflow automation
- And much more!
Contact LABWORKS to find out how they can put these features to work for you in your new LIMS.
Are there hidden costs of LIMS I should know about?
Your LIMS should not have any hidden costs, but you should be aware that there may be some ongoing costs.
First, make sure you fully understand everything you’ll need from your LIMS before you settle on the purchase agreement. Each LIMS will come with a unique set of features and modules designed to handle different aspects of your business. If you fail to mention features you want beforehand, adding them later could cost extra.
Consider your needs and objectives carefully. Some useful features may not seem obvious, including implementation services and ongoing troubleshooting.
If you plan to maintain a service contract with your LIMS vendor, you may also have ongoing fees. Those fees would be in the form of a subscription fee for licensing or annual support and maintenance fees.
Be sure you go over your LIMS purchase order thoroughly. Pin down as many of the specifics as you can beforehand to avoid any unexpected expenses.
Contact Labworks for Your LIMS Solution
Improve your overall lab operations and culture by moving to a leading LIMS soon if not now. With teams working more remote, greater turnover, greater difficulty to find qualified resources, there has never been a more important time to implement a LIMS. A LIMS is an investment with an almost immediate return.
Labworks can configure an affordable LIMS solution to address your lab’s specific needs and will hold your hand every step of the way to implement the system, train your and ensure you maximize your investment. Contact us today to get started on your LIMS vision!