Over the years, we’ve been involved in a number of LIMS/ELN selection projects. In this new series of blog posts, we’ll take a look at some of the lessons learned from those projects.
There are a variety of circumstances that can drive the decision to build or buy a system. Here are a few questions that you can use to help you better understand where you might fit on the spectrum.
- Do we have the internal resources, processes, experience and technology to build the application ourselves?
- Can we outsource this effort? Can we do this with the proper oversight necessary to see this to its conclusion?
- What is the opportunity cost involved in dedicating internal resources to this effort? If I’ve tied up my informatics department in these software engineering tasks, will it prevent them from addressing these higher value needs that my scientific groups have?
- What are the ongoing costs going to be to maintain this system?
- Could we open source the parts of the system that aren’t proprietary? Would that alleviate some of the maintenance burden on the staff? Is there a community of practice that this would benefit and that would be able to share some of the costs? Organizations like the Pistoia Alliance which focus on implementing pre-competitive technologies and standards might be a way forward.
- Does the solution address most of our business processes? If not, can multiple solutions be integrated into a seamless whole?
- What is the cost of integration?
- What will the maintenance cost be for each of these integrations? Each time a vendor updates an application, the integrations between that application and other applications will have to be re-tested (or revalidated in the case of validated systems). This the fewer the vendors you select, the lower the costs.
- Does the vendor provide validation services?
- What is the true cost of ownership?
- Yearly Licensing fees. Is it licensed per module? Is it licensed per module/per seat? Will you end up paying for extra seats for a given module that your organization never uses?
- Implementation/configuration costs
- Integration costs
- Support costs (both internal and external)
- On-Prem vs Cloud-based Hosting costs. Does the vendor provide a discount for cloud-based hosting?
In addition, to each of the previous options, you may find it necessary to buy multiple solutions, and integrate them together. You may also have internally developed applications that require integration.
- Do you have experienced programming staff to support this?
- Do the systems you selected have publicly available APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) that you can write to? (see Frequently Asked Questions for more details).
- How will this affect our upgrade costs if each integration has to be re-tested whenever the vendor rolls out an upgrade?
Need help getting started with your ELN or LIMS project? Contact us