Myths of LIMS – Debunked (Part 1)

Myths of LIMS – Debunked (Part 1)

After 35 years in the Laboratory Informatics business Autoscribe Informatics have addressed multiple myths and misconceptions concerning laboratory information management systems (LIMS) and their implementation. Few of these hold water but may deter potential users who have much to gain from a well implemented LIMS solution. This two-part blog (part 2 here) addresses many of the most common myths and misunderstandings we have come across.

Myth 1: An industry specific LIMS solution will meet all my needs.

Not uncommonly potential users say, “we are a typical laboratory, so can buy an off-the-shelf industry specific LIMS”. In our 35 years in the LIMS business Autoscribe have never supplied identical systems to two customers, even in the same industry. Our approach is to develop and supply core systems that can be changed without coding to fit customer requirements. Our underlying philosophy is to configure the software to meet the needs of the laboratory, not the other way around. Our industry specific starter systems enable you to minimize project timescales and get live faster. By configuring these systems using our state-of-the-art low code configuration tools we meet your specific requirements without customizing the core software. That’s why Matrix Gemini LIMS is built from the ground up to be truly configurable.

Myth 2: My laboratory processes are too specialized for a LIMS

The converse of Myth 1 is where a typical client comment might be “we are so specialized that no LIMS can ever meet our requirements”. Over the years Autoscribe has supported laboratory functions in a multitude of different application areas as well as outside the typical laboratory environment. For example, Autoscribe has created a system for mortuary management, shelf-life study management, HR management, and even a system for lottery management. All of these systems were created using the configuration tools – no software coding was required to configure the screens. This flexibility encourages Autoscribe to believe that even the most specialized laboratory can be accommodated with the Matrix Gemini system.

Myth 3: The ‘one size fits all’ global LIMS

Corporate IT teams are used to buying a single solution, such as a financial accounting system, and rolling this out globally, across all their businesses worldwide. The benefits of a single global solution can include enforcing best practice and cost savings. Forcing laboratories in different parts of the business to use a single, general configuration, possibly optimized based on a single location, is seldom successful.

Laboratories in global organizations seldom work in identical ways, even within the same business unit. This is often due to local legislation, technical differences in local assays available, and local knowledge and skills. However, working with a single global LIMS solution means that the procedures of each laboratory must be changed to fit the LIMS, which is not ideal. The requirement to ‘localize’ reports, use local language, support different local test methods and regulations, for example, often means the ‘one size fits all’ approach is doomed to failure.

Autoscribe recommends the use of a genuinely configurable LIMS. A LIMS that has identical code but is adapted to local needs using configuration tools that require no programming expertise. In this way each laboratory can use the same software but have their own specific configuration changes to suit their working practices and needs. Matrix Gemini LIMS is designed to fit these criteria.

Myth 4: In-house built LIMS are cheaper and better than commercial offerings

Potential clients sometimes remark “we can build our own LIMS and roll it out in 6 months”. Indeed, some do try and produce an operational system. However, a commercial LIMS, such as Matrix Gemini, has involved at least 250 person years of software development effort. So, what is missed out in the in-house system, and how will it be developed and maintained in the future as this level of resource is unlikely to be available?

In addition, there are many pitfalls to building a one-off system in-house. Most importantly the system will rely on the knowledge  of a very limited number of individuals, maybe only one. This is a huge risk. What happens when that person is sick, on holiday, leaves or retires? We have replaced a number of in-house systems either because they have become unsupportable or they cannot be further developed to meet changing requirements. By contrast, Autoscribe has hundreds of years of experience to draw upon within its workforce. Our highly trained team of technical consultants are backed by a specialist team of software developers. Regular software releases provide system upgrades, bug fixes and security patches to ensure your system takes advantage of the latest technology developments, both in Laboratory Informatics and the underlying infrastructure (for example operating systems, databases, and integration technologies).


Common LIMS misconceptions such as these need to be debunked, to ensure the laboratory, QA and IT staff are armed with the correct information when choosing their next LIMS. Over-simplification and lack of understanding are often the root cause. The best advice is always to seek, and check, the facts. In part 2, among other myths, we’ll uncover the facts about configurable LIMS, and how some supposedly configurable systems really aren’t all they seem.