Many companies are upgrading to Labvantage V8 or planning to do so. One of the features that looks especially tempting is the Workflows.
When I was working on the Labvantage LIMS, we wanted to upgrade the system and start to build workflows to guide users in using the system. However, we were a long way from being upgraded and, at the time, we weren’t certain who would actually build the workflows.
Having time on my hands, I decided to go through the workflows and create examples of all the features I thought we could use. I created workflow templates and workflows that were more notes than they were actual processes as I had huge blocks of text in them where I described various real-life choices that might drive using one feature over another.
Overall, here are five tips that should give you an idea on how to get started:
- Fixed Process. I think it’s even in the Labvantage documentation that you should only use this functionality if your process is a fixed process. Think more in the lines of laboratory execution than anything else. But keep in-mind that, if some of your processes are rigid and others aren’t, you can create workflows just for the rigid ones.
- Start With Current Workflow Diagrams: A good starting point would be to take your current workflow diagrams that you’ve drawn and try to build one of them into the system. You’ll find that it will help you build questions around how your workflows will work with the LIMS but it’s a good starting point.
- Dashboards: This is one feature that works particularly well with the dashboards to show a user that they have workflows to work on and, depending how much information you have the space for, can even indicate more information than that.
- Variants: I like the examples Labvantage gives, that a variant might be the issue to run a method on one instrument or another. But in any place where shipping is a big deal, my example would be to think of the variant possibly being Internal versus External. Depending on your own setup, possibly the two processes are somewhat different and need their own workflow templates.
- Multiple Starting Points: Thinking more about shipping, let’s suppose the external shipping processes aren’t that different except that they might go through different shippers. In fact, let’s suppose they’re almost the same except they begin by filling out a different form. The starting point might be the shipping form that goes to FedEx, and another one that starts with a shipping point for UPS, and a third for USPS, etc… But they then could all funnel into the same process after that.* You could create workflow templates with multiple starting points where different groups of users do similar things but begin the process slightly differently. Or, you could force them to stick with their own process by building them each exactly their own template. But in the case where the user has to make a choice on how to begin, multiple starting points is the easiest way to accomplish it.
* Someone will ask why that information doesn’t get sent from the LIMS to indicate which form to use. That is possible but not everyone can do this. Some places base their shipping choice based on which shipper currently has given them the best price for certain containers or other types of information that isn’t practical to program into the LIMS.