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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises

5 Thoughts to “Five Labvantage Workflow Tips”

  1. This post caught my attention because of the topic surrounding workflows. I thought I would share with you some testing I am currently working on with respect to workflows. I have spun up a workflow server using processmaker and am starting up a project with Claude Goldszmidt and his students at Poitier University in France to develop BPMN 2.0 standard workflows. The idea we are experimenting with is to create a standard, open access library of laboratory test workflows that can be consumed by any lims or eln capable of utilizing a REST api to execute these packaged workflows built with processmaker.

    I am curious if you or anyone has used any LIMS that supports BPMN 2.0 for defining their workflows.

    1. Gloria Metrick

      I think that there’s one open source LIMS called openLIMS that supports it and there might be others but I don’t happen to know for certain.

  2. LabVantage LIMS support importing and exporting BPMN and XPDL workflow definitions. It can import a Workflow Definition with prototype Tasks, which can then be substituted with actual LIMS Tasks or used to create new Tasks.

  3. Gloria Metrick

    One problem I ran into, though, is that using an outside BPMN tool didn’t import/export quite right with LVS 8.0. I seem to remember that it kept the basic structure but the formatting wasn’t preserved. I tried a variety of tools and asked other users but did not find quite the right one to support this.

    If anyone knows how to import/export the LVS 8.0 workflows and what outside tool fully supports this, that would be handy to know. Or, John, is that what your new tool would do?

    By the way, before too many people think this makes it super-easy, that’s not what it does. Using the outside tool gives you easier ways to create the actual workflow as an image but, of course, does not do the product-specific work. For example, if you’ve got a JavaScript attached or doing other configuration work, that’s still quite a lot of work to figure out even past importing/exporting the images.

    1. Gloria, the tool we are using is processmaker and here is the documentation:
      It is not just a documenting tool. It is a full-on workflow system that you would typically integrate to with some other host system like an EHR, LIMS, LIS, SDMS or ELN. As part of the workflow you create actionable forms that are responsive in design. You integrate to it with the processmaker api and you can embed the workflow forms within the host application.

      I do not know anything about Labvantage so I cannot say what it can or cannot do with respect to external integrations with processmaker. With respect to the LabLynx LIMS, processmaker is what we are using to model lab tests that we have in the LIMS. While we do not need to use processmaker, our purpose is so that we can create a usable lab test library that we release as open access/source so that labs that are so inclined can download and import the model or consume it directly through the api and embed the forms that are part of the workflow, within the host application. ProcessMaker is free and open source so that removes any financial barrier to adoption.

      The hope is that by having a large public library of standard tests created as actionable, bpmn 2.0 workflows, it will cut down on the implementation time for lab informatics projects. We plan to do the same for instrument interfaces and reports as well.

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