Build vs. Buy: Which is the Right Informatics Strategy for Your Lab?

Are you trying to decide if your lab should build its own custom software, buy off-the-shelf software (knowing you’ll inevitably have to customize it), or just keep stumbling along with Excel and paper-based tracking? The answer to this question will ultimately depend on your short- and long-term information system (informatics) strategy.

How do you devise an informatics strategy? There are several options to choose from, each with its pros and cons. In their paper discussing the factors affecting buy-vs.-build decisions, Patrick Hung and Graham Cedric Low suggest that “effectively managing buy vs. build could be the key to managing IT.” For labs, the strategy you choose is particularly important. It could make the difference between success or failure, or, at the very least, impact your rate of innovation.

Given how often we have run into labs needing to shift their approach from build to buy or vice versa, we recommend using a decision framework that examines the options in the context of molecular diagnostics laboratory requirements.