What are the key considerations outsourced testing and analytical labs should keep in mind when selecting a software solution? And why are they important?
- Analytical labs should look for a software solution that is quick to install, easy to use and is provided by a company that can maximize
- the lab’s return on investment by improving the effectiveness, productivity and quality of the processes being addressed by the software
- they should choose a vendor that has track record delivering both standard and bespoke software solutions
- they should look for a provider that looks at the detail. This requires vendors to have worked in laboratories who will recognize the significance that even small functional changes in software can make and how that can affect the day to day utility of their solutions in each laboratory context
- all laboratories are now regulated by different bodies, so it is imperative that data is always traceable and audited by the software and is available for review in case of inspection
- clearly the chosen informatics solution needs to be cost effective with a good R.O.I. / payback and needs to meet or exceed both the user and business requirements
- the user interface should be capable of matching current and future working practices
- Informatics software is only part of the overall solution. Look for a vendor that wants to achieve a close working relationship working with customers, taking a hands-on approach, to ensure optimum efficiencies and performance. These are essential factors for creating and maintaining customers’ competitive advantage. This partnership starts in early discussions and continues through implementation and support from the vendors specialists
- make sure that the informatics solution has ‘longevity’ i.e. is fully supported by the vendor who will always continue to develop innovative solutions with the latest technologies while maintaining a deep level of expertise in your chosen field
Have these requirements changed at all in the last 10 years? If so, how?
In recent years the requirements for traceability and auditing of the analytical testing of samples has increased. In particular this has affected testing laboratories working in the water and environmental laboratories in commercial or government organizations. Laboratories of this type are performing a very wide range of analytical techniques for inorganic, organic and physical determinants at medium to high throughput sample capacity. Laboratories of this type need to be able to produce quality results quickly, economically and increasingly more competitively, with consistent turnaround times, and meet the requirements of accreditation bodies such as the DWI and UKAS.
What are your best-selling Informatics products in this market?
CSols Links for LIMS, AqcTools and Remote Sampler software are used extensively in water, environmental and outsourced testing laboratories to reduce the time and effort required for analysts to drive each of their processes and instruments and produce finished quality results.
Many water companies have standardized on Links for LIMS, AqcTools and Remote Sampler software. Our handheld ruggedized PDA based software called Remote Sampler has also been helping improve efficiencies by providing a transcription free sample collection system which can interface with LIMS and direct the sampler, via in-built GPS to the sample’s location. In the microbiology section of water companies our handheld ruggedized PDA BactiAnalyst system is also improving laboratory workflows by eliminating all paperwork and improving traceability and auditability.
We are also seeing increasing use of our PrepLab software. CSols PrepLab software is designed to help organize and streamline the preparation of samples for further laboratory analysis. It is particularly well suited to the handling of solid samples such as ores, metals, powders, soil and coal, as well as liquid samples. Preplab can be configured and customized to suit different settings, including input from RFID or barcode readers, direct interfacing with devices such as balances or analytical instruments and/or the incorporation of additional labeling. Blanks, QC samples and standards may also be added interactively into the run to suit local Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
Why do you think CSols Informatics Products are so successful?
Our solutions usually exceed the customer expectations and meet their business goals, in particular reducing costs, improving turnaround times and traceability to meet external regulatory requirements.
What do CSols Informatics Products and Solutions offer that is unique?
Our software development team, specialists and sales and marketing teams have all worked in laboratories and recognize the significance that even small functional changes in software can make and how that can affect the day to day utility of our solutions in customer’s laboratories. CSols informatics solutions are designed to help our customers / laboratories meet regulatory, user and business requirements whilst reducing costs, improving turnaround times and traceability.
Where do you see the market developing in the future, and why?
Obtaining samples is a critical and labour intensive task carried out by organizations of all types. The actual process of collection and recording of remote samples has benefited little from advances in computerization, however driven by the overwhelming need to:
- reduce the costs of collection
- provide a paperless trail of custody throughout the life of the sample to meet regulatory requirements e.g. UK Drinking Water Inspectorate (Water), Food Standards Agency and other National and International regulations
- take full advantage of those highly automated systems like LIMS and other centralized data systems already in place in laboratories
UKAS, DWI, EA, European/ National Regulatory Authorities and the public will continue to demand and increase their expectations of testing laboratories. This coupled with advances in technology – handheld computers, tablet PCs, PDAs, WiFi, 4G etc. will see laboratories increasingly using ruggedized, integrated software solutions both in the laboratory and in ‘the field’.