In an earlier article, we highlighted the top laboratory scientific data requirements for LIMS / ELN laboratory systems RFPs.

This article discusses Request for Proposal (RFP) requirements for sample management. Here are some top requirements that you consider including in your RFP:

Sample Tracking: The LIMS / ELN RFP should include requirements for a robust sample tracking system that allows for quick and easy tracking of samples throughout the entire workflow, from sample reception to storage to disposal. This should include the ability to track sample location, sample history, and sample storage conditions.

Sample 3D Plating: Sample 3D plating is a LIMS / ELN RFP feature that can layer materials and samples on plates, such as cell lines, transfection reagents, and viral vectors. It allows the plate to be graphically viewed from a 2D and 3D perspective, the latter providing the ability to view each layer.

Sample Lineage: A sample lineage graphical viewer is an essential feature for LIMS / ELN RFPs because it helps ensure the reproducibility and accuracy of experimental results. By tracking the origin and history of a sample, researchers can identify potential sources of variation and ensure that any observed effects are due to the experimental manipulations rather than to differences in the samples themselves.

Barcoding and Labeling: The lab system should be able to generate and print unique barcodes and labels for each sample. The system should also support a variety of label types and printers.

Storage Management: The LIMS / ELN system should have the ability to manage and monitor all aspects of sample storage, including location, temperature, humidity, and storage conditions. The system should also have the ability to automate storage and retrieval processes.

Sample Requests: The lab system should be able to manage sample requests, including tracking the status of requests, automatically generating pick lists, and tracking samples that have been removed from storage.

Sample Scheduling: This refers to arranging and planning when a sample or set of samples will be analyzed in the laboratory. The sample scheduling feature allows the laboratory to manage the workflow and prioritize samples based on their urgency and the laboratory’s capacity. With sample scheduling, the laboratory can optimize its resources to ensure that samples are analyzed promptly and efficiently.

Billable and Non-billable Samples: This LIMS / ELN feature distinguishes between samples that will be charged to a client and samples that will not. Some samples may be provided as part of a contract or agreement in a laboratory setting, while others may be ad-hoc or provided for research purposes. Samples that are part of a contract are usually billable, while non-billable samples may be used for research, quality control, or internal testing.

Sample Custom Labeling: This LIMS / ELN RFP requirement allows the laboratory to create and assign unique labels to each sample. Custom labeling can include the sample type, origin, date, and any other relevant information. This helps the laboratory to track and identify each sample throughout the testing process, reducing the risk of errors or misidentification.

Ad-hoc Samples: Ad-hoc samples are not part of the regular LIMS / ELN workflow and are often urgent or require special attention. This feature allows the laboratory to receive and prioritize ad-hoc samples, ensuring they are analyzed quickly and accurately.

Sample Override and Rerun: This feature allows the laboratory to override the initial result obtained from a sample and rerun the analysis. This may be necessary if the initial result is questionable or if there is a suspected error in the testing process. The laboratory can then compare the initial and rerun results to ensure the accuracy of the analysis. This feature helps to ensure that the laboratory produces reliable and consistent results.

In summary, when creating a LIMS / ELN vendor Request for Proposal (RFP) for sample management, it is crucial to consider various requirements, including sample tracking, barcoding and labeling, storage management, sample requests, sample plating, sample lineage, sample schedules, billable and non-billable samples, sample custom labeling, ad-hoc samples, and sample override and rerun. These features help to optimize the laboratory’s workflow, reduce errors, and produce reliable and consistent results. By carefully considering these requirements, laboratories can select a suitable LIMS / ELN system that meets their needs and enhances productivity.