Most recently, I’ve been working with a variety of small pharma/bio companies that need to purchase a QC (Quality Control) LIMS (or LES) for their laboratories. We could just call it a LIMS but with the way acronyms abound, let’s just say that it will manage their samples, tests, results, workflows and reporting. What I’m saying, here, could apply to a QC LES, as well.

Too Small For “Big” LIMS Templated Solutions

The problem with the customers I’m referring to is that they’re, well, small. They need a QC LIMS or LES systems that include features such as stability manager. Somewhat smaller companies also don’t all happen to have their own IT departments. So, it also might or might not need to run in the cloud. In addition, these must also have been implemented and validated by a larger company. This is because a system that has already been reviewed by other customers can cut down the initial system cost.

With all that, they realize they can only afford to purchase a single system. Then, they start thinking about how they can offer some of this to the R&D (Research & Development) group and to manage batch records, as well. They need everything but can afford almost nothing.

As I watch the usual demos, I feel despondent, quite honestly.  Some of these customers will get so desperate that they will spend a crazy amount of money for one of the bigger QC LIMS or LES systems. Sure, everything looks good in the demos. Until you’ve actually done the implementation, though, you can’t entirely know what you’re going to run into. Customers are leery of working with some of the smaller LIMS or LES. This is despite the fact that these have prices more in-line with the budgets smaller customers would have. They will also be more appropriate for the number of support people the customer will have.

Here’s My Idea for a QC LIMS Solution For Small Companies

As such, I have a suggestion. I suggest that the small companies create an alliance to work together to identify those software products that can be used effectively and relatively efficiently for their situation. They need to find systems they won’t quickly grow out of and have the features they need.

As a group, they’ll have to identify the most common requirements and agree to the fact that anyone that wants something additional has to pay separately for it. But, with their larger group banding together, they can possibly both get something of a group deal on the pricing AND can encourage those software vendors who offer LIMS or LES that are merely close to what is needed to add the final bits to offer a full system. I would caution, though, to be careful with the negotiation portion. There are plenty of stories of customers who thought they been good deal-makers and gotten a great price. Then, it turns out they didn’t because something key was missing or severely limited.

Final Thoughts on a QC LIMS (or LES)

The last bit of this is that someone might suggest that I start such a group to help define a somewhat more economical QC LIMS (or LES). I have a long history of compulsively volunteering to do this sort of things. However, I’m serious about trying to avoid these things. Here are my reasons:

  1. I’m trying to give away less of my time. The day only has 24 hours in it and it’s not going to change. Like most people, I like to pay the mortgage and focus on saving for retirement, healthcare payments, and the like. As such, I promised myself I’m focus on the parts where I charge my time and stop doing the parts where I do things for free.
  2. People don’t trust consultants. I too often run into the situation where people are so suspicious of consultants that they spend all their time questioning that I could be up to any good. Sure, I’m out there to promote my business like everyone else but I can honestly say that I haven’t been involved with any of the volunteer situations where I’ve made any money off them. In general, when I hear someone discussing needing consulting help, I don’t feel remotely apologetic about suggesting my services. However, many people do find this offensive and that’s why I would say that it’s better to find someone who is a bigshot in one of the member companies to pull this all together – someone who gets a salary, regardless, basically.

One More Thing

I’m not accepting any comments by software vendors mentioning their products with this post. It wasn’t meant as a way to begin the selection process. It is merely as food for thought for the small companies. Just think about it.