As I occasionally do, I’m writing a post based on a search phrase someone used to get to my blog. Today’s phrase is: “tips & tricks for labware lims”

Here’s what this is about, for those of you who don’t immediately know what this is: before LabWare LIMS got some of the tools together that they now use, we used to keep a “Tips & Tricks” document. It was just something like a Microsoft Word document. Yes, that’s how little was really in there, that it was kept as a document rather than a database. However, at the time, it was kind of a big deal. After all, when you have nothing, every little something helps. Additionally, I don’t think it was given to everyone, so those of us who were given that document felt privileged and also just a little more secure that our questions might get answered when we needed help because that document was the only place some of us had to find answers in the days when there were EXTREMELY few people to ask.

It did cover the tricky little things that drive people crazy. For example, in LIMS Basic, when you want to prompt the user a list you’ve built but to use a default value, it’s not obvious to a lot of people how to set your array up for this to work. Thus, these types of tips saved a lot of frustration.

You can imagine that that was at a time when the LabWare LIMS was much tinier than it currently is. In modern times, the LabWare LIMS has automation scripts, programming everywhere, modules for everything, but that was not the case in the days of the “Tips & Tricks” document.

These days, I don’t even know if that document is still around but you can get more information just about any other way than to use it. If you are a licensed LabWare LIMS user or a LabWare LIMS partner, you have access to the LabWare LIMS private tools. For the rest of us, we will make do by staying close with the other experts we know and being generous when they need something, as well. Alternately, we will post our questions to the public forums that are available to us, sometimes using several to get a complete answer. Remember that even the experts don’t know everything so don’t be surprised when you see one of us post.

Bottom Line:  don’t bother checking the internet for that document. LabWare wouldn’t have posted it to a public site, for one, but there are much better tools any way you look at it.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises

7 Thoughts to “LabWare LIMS Tips and Tricks”

  1. I find what you wrote interesting and telling about the world of labware. The tight fisted approach to information is not a sound approach in my opinion but it does match with the things I have seen from the more old school vendors. Times are changing, we get more LIMS vendors all the time and many of them fit well into the modern era of complete information sharing. Cloud and saas will just make information sharing even more the norm (to explain that will take more time than I have).

    Legacy vendors are securing their rates and limiting the supply of consultants which is good for the consultants and the legacy vendors by becoming even more proprietary. The strategy is a great short term view (from their point of view) and will secure solid profits for about 5 more years. This gives them time to change and adapt to the inevitable which will be to move to the cloud and to open up information for all to see. It will happen but in the mean time, why bother with that. Just hold on tight to the information and keep those rates high (please pardon my sarcasm).

    It is clear that information sharing (while great to talk about and use as a marketing pitch) is not really taken seriously by the legacy vendors and consultants. It is more spin than reality.

    BTW, I see from your comments that you are not on the inside of Labware but are having to make do with what information you can get from the outside. Things will change because the market will force it. Unfortunately, you will have to wait for the market to tear down those information walls that Labware has constructed. With any luck, labware systems will just be replaced in time with other more progressive and open solutions that are of better value. This too is bound to happen and is actually happening as I can attest from first hand experience.

    Depending upon your age, all of these predictions may not make any difference and the status quo is really in your best interest but you know the saying… forewarned is forearmed. Besides, all of this is just my opinion which is worth the bits taken on this page.

  2. I should start by saying that I wrote this note partly to reminisce, partly just to tell whoever is doing the search that they’re not going to find that and that it’s probably not worth looking for, at this point. So, this wasn’t meant to be any kind of comment on how LabWare does business. As for your comments, while I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with you, I take an entirely different view of this than you do.

    Your portrayal of companies like mine makes us appear to be in the role of the victim to these big vendors. I don’t take a victim mentality to this. In fact, when I speak with other companies like mine, we might gripe a bit and wish we had one thing or another that we don’t have, but we don’t seriously stop what we’re doing to wait for it, either.

    The bottom line here is this: I am not part of the LabWare circle. Additionally, they don’t owe it to me to help me make a living. If you think about it, I’m competing with them and it’s not really in their best interest to help me, anyway. At the same time, this does not mean that I’m going to make excuses to my customers when they need information. I still need information in order to run my business and I have to offer something competitive in order to draw customers. But even if what I offer is competitive to or better than what LabWare and their partners offer, I still am required to do my best to get whatever information the customer needs. I have to try and I have to make sure I succeed at it some good percentage of the time or I won’t keep that customer.

    Companies like mine don’t survive by waiting for people to give us things. We meet new people, we ask questions, we dig deep to figure things out, and we just work hard at it. Owning and running a consulting business is hard work, and being small makes in easier in some respects, harder in others.

    The business that waits for someone to give them something is like the person that buys lottery tickets and waits for the jumbo jackpot instead of looking for work. In either case, you’ll starve.

    And, while we’re talking about this, let’s not assume that just because information is being given out that it’s valuable, either. On top of that, let’s not even assume the company giving it has the most information about the topic. Just other day, I was speaking with someone at a rather big company and they were surprised to find out that I knew more about what they were offering than they did. But, when it’s my business to know, then I make sure I know.

    In the end, I will work on whatever system my customers want. If they want me to implement a LabWare LIMS, that’s what they’re going to get. It would be pretty lame for me to whine to them about it being too hard. Instead, it’s my job to make it happen and it’s a responsibility I take seriously.

  3. Out of curiosity, when you do work for a labware customer, don’t you have access to all the information you need by virtue of working for the customer on their behalf? I would think that the customer has access to all technical information and resources just like a partner does. Is that not the case for labware customers?

  4. Customers have access, but I don’t. So, when I run into an issue, I’m usually on my own to find out the answer. I’m neither a partner nor a customer so I do not have this access.

    I suppose that your next question would be to ask how I had access in the past — whether I was a customer or a partner? The answer to that is that I was neither. I used to have access because LabWare was my customer. When their time as my customer ended, we parted ways and my access ended. They said they were satisfied with my work, so I never got the impression there was anything negative behind it.

  5. Not quite my next question but the information was useful. Really my next question was going to be… If you are working for a labware customer and they (the customer) have access to information you need to help that customer and that customer is paying you to help them, then don’t they (the customer) give you the login and access information they have so you can login to labware info resources to get the information you need in order to help them (the customer)?

    It seems strange to work for someone and for them to have access to information you need and for them to say to you… nope, I cannot let you see the information I can see and you have to figure it out on your own. I really have never heard of such a thing. If that is the case, then that is very interesting.

    I for one would hate to work under such constraints. Perhaps it is the legal constraint that labware puts on its customers that prevents them from sharing information with you? Is Thermo the same way?

  6. We never share any login information. One person’s access information is specific to them, only. I would never ask them for their access information. I was about to exclaim, “That’s not GMP!” but we really don’t even do that when it’s not GMP.

    Think of it, this way, John — they hire me because I’m the expert. They expect me to be the one to deliver the answers. That’s my job. It’s not their job to find ways for me to do it.

    LabWare and Thermo are two entirely different companies. They deliver their information in different ways and have different views about how to do that.

    With that, that’s about as much as I have to say on this as I’m trying to get some things to compile (and they’re not!).

  7. Angela D.

    I am a user with Labware 6 and getting ready to validate LW7. I have worked with many information systems as a user and sure they are not perfect. But with Labware I find it “click intensive”. As a user I spend much of my time scrolling, clicking (more than 3 times to get to where I need. I employ 5 clicks just to print a simple report). Further, I have to spend time to ensure that the right pieces of data ended up where they were supposed to – on a final report. As a user – I feel really nervous requesting a change from our Labware team…because it means that although the change will occur – somewhere down the coding chain – is bound to go awry. Very difficult application to use for my daily data work.

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