Need to regain control of your samples?
asks Titian's Marcus Oxer
Does this sound like a familiar problem? Some of your samples are tracked, many are not. Those that are tracked are in a variety of different systems – including Excel, Access or even paper.
Why has this happened? Perhaps it’s because:
- Different groups of scientists have chosen to address the problem in different ways
- No one system was sufficiently flexible or intuitive to meet everyone’s requirements
- Different systems have been inherited as a result of mergers or acquisitions
Supporting multiple systems is expensive and inefficient. It also makes it hard to search across your entire sample inventory, and understand the usage and occupancy of your freezer assets. Scientists may be ordering expensive materials that are available from a laboratory next door, if only they knew.
Samples under new management
You may wish to consolidate on a single sample management system that everyone can use. But how do you choose such a system? Here are some of the questions you should be asking vendors:
- Is the system flexible enough to manage everyone’s materials, containers and stores?
- If not, there is a risk of some people not using the system, so some of the benefits are lost
- Is it simple to use?
- If not, there is a risk of low adoption rates from users
- Does it meet my organisations IT requirements?
- If it is web-based, there is no deployment overhead per user
- Does it use enterprise-standard technologies, such as .NET and Oracle?
- Can I rely on vendor support for the short and long term?
- Is it cost-effective?
- There is a good case for making operational savings from efficiency benefits above, but the upfront cost of implementation needs to be considered too
- Is it easy to migrate legacy data?
- Bulk import tools need to be powerful enough to manage large numbers of samples, and validate your data so you know you are recording good quality data from the outset
- Will it grow with the organisation?
- Whatever you use needs to be able to meet your future needs
- You might want to be able to integrate it to other systems, so require integration capabilities including APIs
This list is condensed from Titian's extensive White Paper: The Essential Guide to Laboratory Sample Management, which reviews the challenges facing sample managers in a life sciences organisation. The white paper is free to download.
Titian Software offers Mosaic FreezerManagement, a cost-effective packaged edition of Titian’s renowned Mosaic sample management software. It provides intuitive and flexible web page interfaces for all of your inventory management needs, allied to a powerful database capable of tracking the information for any number of samples, from small to very large collections. Migrating legacy data is made possible via the Labware Importer bulk import tool which can quickly import and validate large numbers of records.
About the author:
Marcus Oxer worked for GlaxoSmithKline for 23 years, originally as a scientist working in molecular biology, later transitioning to bioinformatics and then R&D IT. He joined Titian Software in 2012 where he specialises in addressing the challenges of biological sample management.