LIMS products vary from software for small laboratories to systems for enterprise-class distribution, where large implementations can cost millions of dollars and encompass licensing, training, validation and other required services. As with other software products, there are many ways to implement and purchase a LIMS, from boxed software to commercial licenses for COTS (Commercial Off-the- Shelf) to open source to SaaS (Software as a Service).

It is important to note that a LIMS and an ELN (Electronic Laboratory Notebook) are not the same thing. An ELN is a literal replacement for your paper laboratory notebook. As such, it is a place to enter and keep your laboratory notes and get signoff; you use it just as you would use a paper notebook.

The confusion between LIMS and ELN occurs partly because there is some overlap between them. Additional confusion arises now that some LIMS include ELN features, some ELNs contain LIMS features, and some products combine LIMS and ELN. Beyond the LIMS/ELN question, there are yet other products that sound like they might be a LIMS but have different names. There are still other products that are called “LIMS” but do not appear to be like anything that has just been described.

Selecting and buying a LIMS takes effort and time in advance of the actual purchase for the following reasons:

  1. The functions and distinguishing factors among available products are always changing.
  2. LIMS is in a period of especially high transition as LIMS and ELN software continue to converge. Things might become even more confusing before this period is over.
  3. Even before LIMS, ELNs and other products took on some of the functions of each other. Now the types of LIMS available are somewhat overwhelming. There are Environmental LIMS, generalpurpose LIMS, Web-only LIMS, PC-only LIMS, R&D-focused LIMS, QC-focused LIMS and Forensic LIMS—to name just a few.

A good idea might be to ignore the labels and look closely for the features that meet your needs. Ken Rapp of VelQuest, whose product combines LIMS and ELN features, explains, “The GMP-ELN and LIMS layers contain very different functionality. However, market pressures are forcing a “convergence” of the requirements into a fully integrated Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) solution available either from one solution provider or as a best-of-breed integrated solution.” At Thermo Fisher Scientific, where an integration plan is used to turn specialized products into a single solution, Informatics marketing director, Susan Najjar, says, “…from a usability perspective, if users are working with a well-integrated solution, the merging of these technologies becomes irrelevant.”

What all this means is yet more choices to consider. But even though more choices may make the selection process lengthier, there is an increased likelihood that the best solution for your laboratory will be out there and readily available.

Matrix Gemini version 5.2.7

• Compatible with Windows 7
• Features a “configuration wizard,” allowing free choice of screen and menu designs, customer specific tables/ modules, and multiple sample numbering systems
•Assists with audit trails, time and date stamping of all actions, version control of all reference data, and helps with 21CFR Part 11 compliance


Exemplar Version 4.0

• Improvements in performance and scalability so a single server instance can now support several hundred concurrent users
• Includes enhancements to freezer management with support for configurable freezers and easy viewing of samples in shelves/racks/boxes
• Features a configurable data model and user interface with zero programming required

Sapio Sciences

Debra 5.7.7

• Compound Received data can be displayed in micrograms and milligrams in Dosing Data report
• Treatment concentrations are displayed to four decimal places on all screens
• The order preferred by each user in the Pooling Splitting screen is now saved on a user-by-user basis
• Importing WBA data from MCID analysis software is much easier

LabLogic Systems


• Software-as-a-Service LIMS; no need for costly installation and setup costs
• Users can securely and easily create workflows, map sample lifecycles and generate automatic updates from any standard Internet connection and through any web browser
• Enables connectivity with a variety of instruments

Thermo Fisher Scientific