Since its inception around 20 years ago, next-generation sequencing has seen widespread application in pharmaceutical and biotechnology research, particularly in areas like personalized medicine, epigenetics, and transcriptomics. While NGS has fundamentally transformed science as we know it, it has also given birth to a variety of intense solution requirements that a standard LIMS system or Electronic Lab Notebook is not typically suited to address—at least not without costly customization. This leaves many NGS-focused scientists with buyer’s remorse, forced to live with a lab informatics solution that simply can’t keep up. 

Recently, we released a blog that discussed the essential role of good questions in the lab informatics solution search. In this blog, we’ll continue that conversation with seven questions that are tailored to NGS requirements. 

  1. Does the platform provide NGS templates out-of-the-box? 

Implementation can be one of the most daunting aspects of adopting a new solution, and scientists can wait the better a part of a year before ever benefiting from their new solution. A solution that delivers out-of-the-box NGS will provide pre-built workflows for sample registration, tracking, storage, analysis, and other key functions your scientists need to complete their NGS work on a daily basis. These templates will meet the vast majority of NGS use cases, allowing your scientists to hit the ground running and rapidly realize the intended value of your solution.  

  1. Can I configure the solution to my lab’s specific needs? 

In cases where pre-built workflows need to be augmented or extended, or the requirements of your lab have just evolved over time, configurability is key. As a fast-growing field with an anticipated CAGR of 18.2% through 2030, NGS workflows will inevitably continue to transform over the next several years. Look for a solution that allows you to configure workflows to your lab’s specific needs, without technical intervention and an army of coders. A solution that provides no-code configurability will ensure that you can adapt quickly to the needs of your scientists.    

  1. What kind of sample management capabilities does the solution deliver? 

A typical lab’s sample management function pales in comparison to those of the NGS lab in complexity, sophistication, and scale. Your lab informatics solution should support tracking across the entire sample lifecycle, from request to collection, preparation, storage, and more. Beyond full-lifecycle capabilities, your solution should also provide visibility into sample lineage and aliquots, with reprocessing capabilities for samples that fail quality control. Searchability is another key consideration, as the solution should allow you to easily find the specific sample or data that you’re looking for in a way that provides scientific context. 

  1. Is the solution capable of speeding up my workflows? 

Speed is a defining strength of NGS that is responsible for its rapid growth and adoption. Even if a solution can support NGS workflows, it cannot necessarily accelerate them. Look for a solution that is simple and intuitive enough to inspire adoption among your scientists and power big gains in productivity with little training or added effort.  

Does the solution enable collaboration within the platform? Do scientists need to dig for what they are looking for? Do they need another degree just to operate the platform? The answer should be a resounding no, substantiated by real scientists who consider the platform indispensable to their daily work.  

  1. Can the solution support the volume and velocity of my data? 

NGS generates massive amounts of data. Before labs can derive any meaningful insight from this data, they require a proper way to store and manage it. For many solutions, the volume and velocity of NGS data is simply untenable. Look for a lab informatics platform that leads with its strengths in data management, and look for evidence it has supported NGS and high-throughput data demands before.  

  1. Can this solution integrate easily with my existing systems? 

NGS can involve a range of essential instrumentation and specialized solutions for sequencing and analysis. The lab informatics platform must exchange data seamlessly with these tools and technologies for visibility, accuracy, and insight. Make sure to select a lab informatics platform that has a strong track record of integration and the ability to quickly and easily add new integrations over time as new instruments are added into your laboratory environment.  

  1. Will this solution provide visibility into operations?  

Given the complexity and duration of NGS workflows, real-time status and action-oriented workflow are key. If something goes wrong mid-sequence, scientists risk stalling their progress or worse, attaining inaccurate results. Look for a lab informatics solution that supports operational excellence through real-time process visibility and KPIs. This will enable your scientists to stop and restart workflows proactively, before progress and quality are affected, and measure key metrics like turnaround time in a scalable way.  

Out-of-the-box NGS: the answer to all of your key questions and more 

By keeping these questions in mind in your search for a proper lab informatics solution for your lab, you can cut through the clutter to find a platform that will support your NGS specific requirements from the start, scale as you continue to grow, and make life easier for your scientists every step of the way. 

At Sapio, we deliver an out-of-the-box NGS solution that delivers full traceability over every sample, no-code configurability, built-in scientific tools, in-platform collaboration, and more. It is widely trusted by innovators in cell therapy, gene therapy, and other applications of NGS.  

If you’re interested in learning more about the growth of NGS and the need for an out-of-the-box solution, explore our toolkit. Or, if you’re ready to see Sapio’s out-of-the-box NGS capabilities at work, request a free demo today.