These days, it seems as if we can get micro-anything-we-want. We can get micro-greens, micro-brews and micro-distilling, just to name a few. In any case, I knew that micro-roasting (of coffee) was a “thing” but I was quite surprised, the other day, when I ordered coffee and each bag I received had information not just about what coffee was in the bag, but it said it had been specifically brewed for me (it had my actual name on each bag) and gave the date and time roasted.
A few people had noticed that there was a new picture on my blog but that it was not a picture of me. This is one of those situations where I accepted an upgrade, it had unintended consequences (the picture of someone else popping-up on my blog) and I decided not to roll it back – that there are more good features than problems and, also, that I didn’t currently plan to devoting time to kicking that person off my blog, being busy with other things. And, in that, it’s the same issue we face with LIMS, ELN and LES upgrades.
In this day and age, you would think that every system would have been interfaced with every other type of system. That’s probably true. But it’s NOT true that every individual system has been interfaced with every other individual system and that’s where most of the challenges are.
Some of the customers who read these posts are working to do as much of the actual work on their system, as possible, to include LIMS/ELN/LES System Administration, configuration, programming, etc… Others have decided that they don’t need to build some or all of these skills in-house and are asking their software vendors or other outside consulting firms (such as the premier GeoMetrick Enterprises) to do the work, instead. In doing this, while you do avoid having to build the skills in-house, you do not abdicate yourself from the potential issues that can come from this.
In my last post, I suggested to customers interested in running mobile apps for their LIMS, ELN or LES that they consider writing their own or having someone write one for them. I suggested writing them specifically for the devices that they will use. But some clever folks are still thinking they’re going to write one generic app that works for everything. They think if they do this that, if they switch devices, they can just swap the new devices in. Here are two more considerations.
These days, a criterion of looking for a new LIMS, ELN or LES is more and more commonly that it have mobile capabilities or some other mobile factor. More customers are looking for this. Yet, how critical is this on your requirements list?
Over time, many systems, despite strong procedures and practices, end up with portions that are convoluted or messy, in one way or another. I see plenty of opportunities where customers could get in and rewrite some code to make it cleaner and easier-to-manage. I’ve written about this, before. And, as before, I think we all acknolwedge that this is a tricky business because, first off, everyone is already too busy to do this and, secondly, it could introduce other problems. But we’re seeing a growing trend in this that I specifically want to talk about: Version 7 LabWare LIMS upgrades.
Most of us consultants probably can tell at least one story where database backup (or lack thereof) plays an important part in a sad story of an implementation that’s gone off-track.
Reporting from the systems we use, the LIMS, LIS, ELN and such, is challenging. Getting data onto a report and in a format that meets the users needs or for regulatory purposes, is not trivial. Today, I will give you three high-level tips on how to get that data out and in a usable format. A lot of your reporting success or failure will depends on the tools you are using, too, of course.
Dealing with unprintable characters is fine when you’re doing it on-purpose but, otherwise, I have just one thing to say about them.