Would you trust your samples on a spreadsheet?

Preparing your lab for the future with Titian’s Mosaic software

It all started with the lab book….

….writing down every sample you stored and then quickly realising that an Excel spreadsheet would keep a better record. It is true you can obtain free spreadsheet or web-based sample management tools, so why look any further?

Excel disasters affect the world

Research has found that 88% of spreadsheets contain significant errors (Panko, RR, 2008).

In some cases, these errors have been implicated in some of the biggest blunders on Wall Street and in finance, in general.

One such blunder overstated the impact that debt burdens have on a nation’s economic growth. Harvard economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogof claimed that when a country’s debt hits 90% of its GDP, economic growth slows dramatically. However, it transpired that a coding error in the original spreadsheet completely excluded the first five countries in the dataset from the calculations. This led to this false conclusion, which in reality should have shown a growth by 2.2% (Fortune, April 2013).

Spreadsheet errors have become such a concern that a European Spreadsheet Risks Interest Group (EuSpRIG) has been formed to offer independent information on Spreadsheet Risk Management. Its website (http://www.eusprig.org) provides evidence of ‘horror stories’ and ways they could have been avoided.

Succeeding without Excel-ing

Excel spreadsheets are simple but keeping on top of your sample management is not!

Aside from the frequency of data entry error, much time is wasted validating and tracking data in spreadsheets due to their inaccuracies. In addition to this, sample managers need to know:

  • Is there an audit trail of every action on that sample?
  • How do you know if someone has updated your spreadsheet and who that person was?
  • Can you accurately track sample lineage and calculate remaining amounts as you aliquot your materials?
  • Can you capture additional information relating to your sample?
  • Can you easily query the data in your spreadsheets to generate reports and metrics?
  • Can you search to quickly find samples matching certain criteria?
  • Can you communicate with your automation to drive workflows and track processes?
  • Do you have the flexibility to scale the system as processes change or systems are upgraded?

Titian’s Mosaic sample management software solves these problems. Any sample, stored in any container, in any type of store can be logged and tracked from collection to disposal with a complete audit trail. Mosaic can also be integrated with laboratory automation equipment for seamless workflow management, tracking of orders, sample processing and shipping.

Its three products enable any scale of operation to benefit from Titian’s expertise.

  1. Mosaic FreezerManagement is an easy-to-install software package for small to medium-sized sample collections, designed to manage the storage and distribution of sample aliquots to a number of recipients in their required formats.
  2. Mosaic SampleBank provides full audit trail and tracking capabilities coupled with sample ordering and workflow management in a pre-configured simple package.
  3. Mosaic is the ultimate tool for the management of millions of samples worldwide, guaranteeing a rest-assured solution for sample management.

If you wish you had an alternative to spreadsheets or would like to know more about what we have to help your sample management, then contact us to discuss your specific needs.

If you are researching sample management, try out our resources pages where there are white papers, application notes, webinars and video on managing histology samples, New Biological Entities, cell lines, setting up biobanks and more.

Tags: News, spreadsheets