The Eternal Debate: Customised vs ‘Out Of The Box’ LIMS

Two Fold Software Managing Director Clive Collier weighs in on the on-going debate:

Since the first commercial LIMS was introduced in 1982 in the form of a single centralised minicomputer system, LIMS have continued to evolve in terms of both functionality and the underlying technology and hardware.

In 1995 client server technology was released that enabled LIMS to move to PC based servers and client PC’s, followed by web technologies and the development of web-based LIMS. The common theme for all of these systems was a core system of routine functionality and the additional application of customised functionality to meet the customers specific needs.

However, there are today some LIMS that have been designed to provide a wealth of standard functionality that can either fully negate or greatly reduce the need for custom code. This has given rise to an industry-wide debate on the merits of standardised ‘out of the box’ solutions versus fully customised systems.

The debate summarised:




System designed to meet exact requirements

Lengthy implementation time

Considerably more expensive

Difficult to upgrade to new core release

Additional cost for upgrade due to custom code

Configured solution is unique, hence the customer is the only user





Vastly reduced system cost

May have to adapt to how the functionality has been implemented within the applications

Upgrades to new versions are routine and no cost

Joining a community of customers in many differing industries

Can benefit from user forums

Regular new product releases

Large library of applications to meet the needs of differing industries

The trend for many years has been for customised solutions, but today more and more companies want to reap the benefits of using standard software, and independent LIMS advocates are increasingly advising that companies should move to standard systems.

The choice is ultimately yours, but remember this: it is usually easier to alter your laboratory procedures to adapt to a LIMS than to customise the LIMS to meet existing procedures!

Lisa Lambert

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