What Role Does a Laboratory Information Management System Play in Data Traceability?

Data traceability, it goes without saying, is one of the foundations of any study. As a scientist or researcher, without the ability to validate research and ensure that every information is accounted for, you run the risk of your efforts going to waste. That’s one of the main challenges of research data management that, fortunately, a lab management software directly addresses. 

To underscore the role that software like LIMS plays in this regard, we’ve opted to shine the spotlight on a few of the usual features that directly contribute to it. But, first, let’s layout the main reasons why data traceability should be maintained in research.

Data Traceability Ensures Data Quality and Heightens Efficiency of Labs

These are undoubtedly the two most crucial factors that make data traceability nothing short of a must in any research setting. The context of quality, of course, stems largely from the ability to validate the gathered data and ensure the overall trustworthiness of the results. Data is rarely static, necessitating the need to keep everything recorded. 

As for the topic of efficiency, most of it is rooted in the fact that researchers won’t have to spend extra time to amend mistakes or keep data organized. As long as you have a tool that makes traceability possible, it’s already a given that you’ll be able to save more time through the quicker resolution of issues (if they arise at all). 

Moreover and as a whole, data traceability also lends itself to ensuring lab compliance. Standards and guidelines will have to be followed, and data traceability makes it a whole lot easier for labs to adhere to them. 

How LIMS Software Makes Data Traceability Always Viable and Efficient

For all its pivotal advantages, ensuring data traceability is rarely a walk in the park without the help of tools that are purposefully built for it. It’s safe to say that most LIMS software fits that category. It won’t even be farfetched to say that it’s one of its specialties. This is all the more proven by the following facts and features of, for example, a Cloud-based LIMS

 

  1. Paves the way to better audit trails through better, often automated logging.

This fact alone underlines the undeniable value that LIMS brings when it comes to ensuring traceability. The software is often designed with the ability to map lab data according to sample and test numbers as well as sub-samples. Each sample is taken into promptly account, often automatically, for the researchers’ convenience. 

  • Automated documentation only makes it easier for researchers to meet requirements pertaining to compliance. We’re talking about huge volumes of data being automatically validated and stored. 
  • Since compliance is pretty much guaranteed, there’s practically no room to question the validity of every sample generated. 
  • What makes things even better is that other data and metadata are logged, including the person who modifies the sample, his or her location, etc. 
  • Should there be a need to peruse the sample and its result, its entire lifecycle can be easily accessed as it’s stored within the system. 

 

  1. The integration of dashboard overviews makes it easy to monitor and keep track of data to maintain quality. 

This is another factor that pretty much makes traceability a guarantee. In most LIMS software, this is one common denominator shared by many since it makes it easier for researchers to view their data. Most of the time, these dashboards are even highly configurable, making it possible to be applied to numerous industries.

  • You can choose to keep track of the data by using different kinds of charts and graphs, whichever one you find more amenable for a particular study.
  • Each dashboard can be attributed and customized to a specific sample. 

In the end, the ready availability of the data, as depicted in easy-to-view graphs, can make it uncomplicated for lab members to verify samples and test results and ensure compliance, too. This makes guaranteeing data integrity all the more viable. 

  1. Creates a highly accurate and efficient data environment that is conducive to both producers and auditors.

After all, auditors will only need to refer to the recorded data of the LIMS to review compliance reports to ensure the validity and safety of each sample. As for producers, it becomes easier for them to keep producing high-quality products that meet industry standards. Since the data will always be recorded with minimal effort, it will make future inspections a breeze. 

As for maintaining data accuracy, we only need to look at how valuable this is when it comes to keeping track of raw materials used during production. We don’t need to look further than the food and beverage industry to see this. LIMS can offer no less than the most intricately detailed test results of every ingredient used. 

Last but not least is that most LIMS also make earning a COA (Certificate of Analysis) for any product a whole lot easier. This, again, can be attributed to the automated workflow inherent in a LIMS. Automatic verifications will ensure that no sample will enter the final stages of the lab process until they’ve passed specifications. 

  1. The use of cloud technology arguably contributes to it, too.

We’re, of course, only referring to LIMS cloud-based software when saying this. The integration of cloud computing in LIMS not only enhances the overall security of the research environment but actively prevents data loss as well. 

The ability to conduct quick data recovery serves as another powerful benefit for labs when guaranteeing their data traceability. We struggle to name any other solution or scenario where data compromised can be easily recovered, which makes cloud-based LIMS all the more a pedestal above their counterparts. 

  1. Works well with barcode integration. 

This one is essentially about giving every sample a unique identifier that will not cause it to become misidentified in the long run. Barcodes also reduce the time needed to verify the soundness of every document created. Members may scan the code and immediately know the details about every sample and all the testing it has undergone. 

Keep in mind that even reagents, standards, and other lab supplies can be assigned their own barcodes, allowing seamless organization.

Conclusion

Overall, LIMS is software for laboratory work whose value can be traced to one thing: convenience. Convenience in the sense that the entire research becomes seamless and even close to effortless because of the outstanding route to better data traceability that it opens up. 

This should be relatively obvious, especially if we consider the specific purposes for which this kind of software was developed as well as if we look at other alternative solutions available at present.