There’s hardly a sector of activity untouched by the power of technology. From governmental institutions to corporate offices and science laboratories, technology has changed the workplace, leading to performance levels that were inconceivable in the past. Digitalization is the best example of how technology has changed the business, academic, and scientific world. This process has helped companies, institutions, and organizations improve workflows and productivity drastically.
This article will focus on the benefits of using dedicated software tools in laboratories. If you’re a lab manager who oversees activity in fields such as medicine, medical research, chemistry, pharmaceutics, and biotechnology, read on to discover how to improve your lab’s performance with software.
Use the Right Scientific Data Management System
When looking at laboratory performance and software, scientific data management systems are the first things that need to be discussed. Scientists and lab technicians use these systems to optimize a wide range of data-related processes. There are two important types of data management systems: Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMs) and Electronic Laboratory Notebooks (ELNs).
Which system is right for your lab? The answer may vary. Generally, these systems automate and streamline the process of collecting data and managing tasks in laboratories. They share various capabilities, but there are some notable differences between them.
Whether you choose LIMS or ELN systems for your lab, get a closer look at how the systems work in the background and compare their features. For example, LIM solutions were designed for structured workflows based on repetitive tasks or activities, but they are known for their flexibility. ENL solutions provide more options for personalization, so they are better suited for individual research.
A common feature of scientific data management systems is their user-friendliness. They shorten the time to results because they are easy to use. By eliminating paperwork and redundant or repetitive activities, they substantially improve productivity in the lab.
Incorporate Visualization Tools
LIMs and ELNs allow laboratories to collect, organize, and store accurate data fast. The next step for improving productivity in the lab is to incorporate software tools that can help you visualize all this data.
There are many highly advanced data visualization tools available on the market. Even though they weren’t necessarily designed for laboratory work, some allow personalization. You can adapt them for the needs of your lab without needing advanced technical skills. The ideal strategy is to invest in data visualization software that allows you to import data from your LIMs or ELNs. By doing so, you will streamline numerous processes, ensuring maximum efficiency.
Why are data visualization tools essential? Data visualization can help labs extract value from large amounts of accumulated data. As a lab manager, you can use visualization tools to identify patterns in your lab processes, resource allocation, resource consumption, and not only. Visualization tools display events graphically, showing their recurrence and underlining connections. With this visual aid, you can make accurate predictions about sample processing, instrument use times, or cycle times of products. You can also predict other tangible or intangible elements that define your lab activities.
Data visualization tools help leverage data with a massive impact on productivity.
Organize Research Activities
Another excellent way to improve performance is to organize research activities in the lab by instructing researchers to use the same literature management software. A fundamental part of research is reading, gathering, annotating, and citing relevant literature. This process is incredibly time-consuming, and any error, information loss, or delay can slow down operations in your lab.
Literature management software eliminates the risk of messy libraries, giving researchers access to time-saving features. Sticky notes, highlights, share buttons, markup tools, tags, folders, and a range of other tools are generally available in any reference or literature management software. Whether they work individually or in teams, all researchers can benefit from using these tools.
If research is a vital component of your lab activity, use a literature management software tool. Besides the advantages indicated above, such a tool can also help you gather research data from multiple devices and sync information across platforms.
The Importance of Investing in Software
Lab management is very complex because a lab must operate in many ways like businesses to produce quick and reliable results. Investing in software is crucial because it allows labs to manage resources effectively, predict time to results accurately, and optimize internal activities. Through process optimization, the right software tools allow labs to stay competitive. Adopting productivity tools fast can give you an edge over the competition or help you secure more generous funding.
Investing in software tools is a cost-effective strategy for labs because higher lab performance leads to lower operational costs. By automating tasks and processes, software tools can eliminate the need for human input. Automation is one of the most efficient cost-saving methods available today.
Another aspect to consider is that enterprise software integrations can drastically improve financial and logistics operations. You can use business software tools in the lab for inventory management, order management, and billing. The number of possible integrations is vast.
You can also find a consistent library of software tools that allow labs to process complex and highly specific data more quickly. For example, labs that analyze genetic or genomic data rely on bioinformatics tools designed for this purpose. Many dedicated software products include visualization tools specifically designed to display a history of experimental results.
From project management to data processing and lab automation, software tools can optimize a vast range of processes and operations, saving labs time and money. Determining which tools can provide the highest value for your lab can be time-consuming. However, it is essential to take the time to research your options.
Performance in science and medical labs depends heavily on tech and digital tools. As these tools become more efficient, lab performance also increases. As a lab manager or administrator, you can use software to improve lab processes, obtain accurate results fast, save time, and cut costs. Digitalization can help your lab reach peak performance and remain competitive.