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Implementing a LIMS: “It's More than Just Software”

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Approximately five years ago Clean Water Services (formerly Unified Sewerage Agency) undertook a project to upgrade its entire information system network. In preparation for this project, Clean Water Services (the District) developed a Strategic Information System Plan (SISP) outlining the District's information systems needs, strategies, and goals. Each new application to be implemented at the District was to adhere to the requirements set forth by the SISP. A Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) was included within the initiative

After much deliberation and investigation by the LIMS selection team, a vendor was chosen. Configuration tasks began and soon faced major delays due to miscommunication between the LIMS vendor and the District, differences in contractual interpretations, and lack of communication and understanding with key LIMS stakeholders. In addition, preparation for process improvements with the new LIMS was absent.

To help resolve these problems, the District's LIMS project manager and an independent consultant hired to assist with SISP initiatives teamed together to overcome project delays. The consultant and the project manager realized lack of communication was the primary reason for project shortcomings and they developed a plan of attack in order to address these issues. The plan was to achieve the following:

renegotiate key elements of the contract with the LIMS vendors to get configuration back on track,

develop a configuration which captured the essence of the old LIMS but took advantage of the new LIMS functionality,

establish process improvements with the new LIMS,

involve all key stakeholders in decision-making,

establish clear lines of communication,

prepare lab staff for the new LIMS, and

ensure acceptance of the new LIMS with staff and stakeholders.

This paper discusses the tasks and actions taken by the LIMS project manager and the consultant to address and complete the above goals. Furthermore, the paper will discuss and offer suggestions for tasks a LIMS project manager should consider.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2002-01-01

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