As people who have worked at the bench, we understand how stressful laboratory life can be at times. Thankfully, keeping large sample inventories organised and ensuring sample information is stored securely and only available to authorised users, can be one less thing to worry about. Samples software is packed with a host of useful features that make recording, managing, and recalling sample data incredibly convenient. These five functions of Samples will help you to avoid potential problems with your sample data storage:
Intuitive import/export wizard
At one point or another, many laboratories face the prospect of combining two or more separate sample libraries into a single, centralised inventory. Perhaps you’re merging labs or expanding your sample collection, or transferring legacy samples into a brand new database. Whatever the reason, it’s an unenviable task that can involve an awful lot of manual data entry (and stress!), which can lead to mistakes being made.
With Samples’ Import Wizard, importing sample data from existing records in either Excel spreadsheet or text file format couldn’t be easier. The wizard walks you through the import process and ensures imported data is compatible with Samples software. At the final import stage, it offers you one last check before you add the new data, just to make absolutely sure that everything is in order.
Mandatory data entry
With so much data associated with laboratory samples (and so many other tasks to focus on in the lab), it can be easy to overlook crucial information when performing data entry. But when this data must be recalled several weeks, months, or years down the line, the absence of critical information, such as patient ID or expiry date, can require time-intensive sample re-analysis, an extensive search through old lab books, or even render a sample unusable.
Samples helps to avoid this problem by giving database administrators the option to make certain data fields mandatory, with the software prompting users to add critical information before allowing them to complete data entry. These ‘tracking tags’ are fully searchable, making it easy to find them at a later date.
Regardless of the size or purpose of your inventory, it can often be useful to retain information on samples even after the specimens themselves have been used or disposed of. Some labs use spreadsheets to keep track of their sample inventory – yet these don’t easily lend themselves to storing both historical and up-to-date information, and you can quickly end up in a disorganised jumble of colour-coded cells, rows, and columns.
Samples has an archive function to ensure that all historic information associated with samples or racks is stored in the system for convenient access at a later date if needed. This archiving function is configured so that it will not interfere with the day-to-day use of the database but is readily available when needed.
Everybody knows the importance of backing up their data. Yet data loss happens to the best of us, particularly when we’re not expecting it. We’ve all experienced that sinking feeling when the report we’ve been working on hasn’t saved correctly losing several hours of work. Imagine the disruption caused by the loss of an entire sample database!
Rest assured, all data stored using Samples can be automatically and regularly backed up to a network accessible location – so should the worst happen to your database, you can be up and running again in minutes. The backup feature can be scheduled to run at a frequency of your choosing and the data can be saved to any safe location on your network.
Like other software applications, Samples can be installed on a single computer with a ‘fixed’ licence, or for networked use, accessed using a number of ‘floating’ licences. A common problem encountered with networked software is that users forget to log out of the system, permanently using up a license and preventing new users from accessing the database. This can hold up daily operations and let’s face it, can be really frustrating!
Samples eliminates this problem because any inactive users can be automatically logged out after a time period defined by the system administrator. If there has been no user activity after this pre-set time period, the auto log-out feature releases the license and prevents time being wasted through chasing inactive users. This helps labs to run more efficiently and reduces stress levels!