With such a wealth of choice available to lab managers, selecting the right sample tracking solution can be an onerous task. Here are three critical questions we believe you should ask when selecting your LIMS solution.
- Does it Support Unique Descriptors?
Creating custom data fields to better identify biological specimens should be a matter of course. The best sample tracking solutions will allow you to associate fully searchable data with each sample, and to create custom data fields which support a variety of formats. Biobanks have individual needs; thus, it is crucial that LIMS software and databases empower users to capture the most relevant data and to record said information in an applicable format. The ability to create an unlimited number of descriptors is a highly attractive feature.
- Can it Perform Multi-Parameter Searches?
Using a LIMS with a multi-parameter search tool is extremely beneficial as it allows you to combine key search terms and select samples with a high degree of specificity. Naturally, demographic and physical data are of paramount importance, but physical storage location is equally vital from an operational perspective. It is therefore important to choose a sample tracking solution that supports visualizations of container layouts. However, the power of multi-parameter searches can go further still. Alongside location data, you can access date records which give you insights into freeze/thaw cycles and sample integrity. It is also possible to access historical data on archived/destroyed samples which are no longer contained in the system.
- Does Your System Support High Throughput Data Entry?
Data entry can be extremely labour intensive, especially when dealing with thousands of samples at a time. Even a basic sample tracking solutions should ease the burden of data input by simplifying the process of creating and updating records simultaneously. This can be improved further by utilising a combination of the right hardware and software. For instance: the import wizard of Ziath’s Samples laboratory sample management software supports three different options depending on your individual setup. Sample data can be entered manually, or it can be imported from existing records in a simple and easy-to-use format.
The third option involves the use of DataPaq barcode readers, which have a decode time of ~1—2 seconds, and a compatibility with all standard racks on the market (cryoboxes, SBS racks, etc.). Ergo, the question of high throughput data entry not only concerns the speed and usability of your software, but its compatibility with your rack readers, and even your tube format.
IF you would like to learn more about getting the most out of your sample tracking solution, read our top tips for biological specimen tube selection and labelling.