Buying software products and services is a tricky business. They are expensive and the sales process is full of pitfalls. Because of this, for many years, I had been on something of a mission to reeducate new users to our industry on certain industry terms. In a recent discussion with someone in our industry, I finally realized that reeducation doesn’t work. Banning the words would be the one way to affect change.

My classic problem words were “customization” and “configuration.” The problem I’ve always had with these words is that buyers sometimes believe “configuration” to mean “clicking on a few buttons” where our industry tends to use it to describe lots of programming. Our industry tends to use “customization” to define software that is written from-scratch. However, even what we call COTS (Commercial Off-The-Shelf) software tends to require quite a lot of programming, in many cases. Let us just stop using the words “configuration” and “customization.”

Next, I really do despise the term “turnkey.” There is no such thing as a turnkey system. There never has been and there never will be. Every piece of software you purchase needs your time and attention. Period. So, let’s stop using this dirtiest of all software words.

On the other hand, it’s the people who misuse these terms who will not stop using them. Without their cooperation, it remains a problem for new buyers. As usual, “caveat emptor” (buyer beware).

Still, I’d be glad to hear what words you think are totally misused, overused, not properly descriptive of what they are, or otherwise needing banning just to keep us all both sane and honest.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises

2 Thoughts to “Words to Ban From the LIMS/Laboratory Informatics Industry”

  1. I’ve decided that both words and phrases are acceptable for this discussion. A buddy just handed me these and I’ve decided to post them even though the first one is a phrase:
    Firm Fixed Price (that never really turns out to be true — there are always things that get added-on)
    Bespoke (these days, we have an idea in our mind what some of these systems should have in them; if you a building someone a LIMS, for example, you probably have a preconception of what should be in it and it’s never totally custom; in fact, if you copy-and-paste lots of the same code or use the same code libraries to build it as you used for other systems, that is really likely).

  2. Based upon the strict adherence of hardware and software standards alike, which we all know to be very non-standardized. Add in the laboratory equipment to be automated and interfaced, which also is a far cry from any standardized methods because of the multitude of how each system must be regulated. And on top of all of this mentioned above is that of the actual Test Methods used within the labs. Even if an AI system could collect all of this information and regurgitate the perfect modules to make the LIMS even a pseudo turnkey system, there is still another problem and that is the ‘driver’ that turns the “turnkey” system. Since clearly each and every lab personnel, from lab technicians and chemist alike to that for the lab manager to evaluate how everyone is driving, we have a big problem for the AI system to perfectly address eash and every human indifference in the way they operate the non-automated stations or rotations. Take QC for excample and it is clear to see that no two people will measure precisely 100mls of blank water, whether the autoclave had cleansed the glass properly so that the spikes can recover back out yielding the prestine containers. The overall jist of what I am saying, is that the imperfect introduction of the humans behind the instrumentations and glassware will never allow a LIMS system to be Turnkey, let alon pseudo-Turnkey…

    Furthermore, based on the direction of IT and technology is not closing this gap but further spreading it apart. A homogeneous system would be a dream come true and the likely hood for all of us in the LIMS arena albeit pharma, life science, forensics, petroleum, food & drug, agriculture, environmental, and so on…each diverse field yet adds another layer of impossibilities much like that of ordinances riding a top a local or federal law.

    Turnkey, is and will always be out of the question unless the human factor is totally removed, all lab practices standardized across the board and for that matter all IT R&D must all take us down the same exact paths. To me this seems a great impossibility. Let’s face it, even when we do hop in a car, throw the keys in and turn it, does this in fact yield the exact same results time and time again? In my experience and not just LIMS and the 7 I’ve implemented from the past, but over 31 systems in my application matrix…not a single one was ever close but this is especially true for LIMS. I will say it always did make me chuckle when I worked for a LIMS company out of Albany, NY and later Bridgewater, NJ that one of their motos was the offering of a “TurnKey LIMS.”

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