For many laboratories that are under cost and time pressures, free sample management software can be a tempting option. Even if an ideal system is found, the “free” option may work its way to the top in order to save money or save time by avoiding a lengthy internal purchasing process. Although free sample management software may appear to be a viable option, many of these systems lack the features, flexibility, customization and support that labs need. In short, free sample management software can prove to be quite costly in the long run.
Features you may be missing in free sample management software include:
- Complete and auditable record keeping.
Most free systems have a severe lack of audit capabilities. Some will even ask you to upgrade to a paid version for what is still limited audit functionality. Your sample management software should capture a full audit trail for each sample. This will allow you to track the full chain of custody, meet regulatory requirements, and have confidence in the data stored in your system.
- Flexibility, customization and data integrity.
Free sample management tools often lack the needed data validation and enforcement capabilities of robust sample management software. This can impact the integrity of data in the system and lead to costly errors. Free sample management systems will also often limit options of flexibility and customization. This includes forcing limits on user-defined fields or forcing the lab to change its processes to fit the system. Your sample management software should have the ability to be molded to your lab processes and requirements, not the other way around.
- Options for scalability and growth.
Often, free sample management systems will limit the number of projects, data rows or users in the system. This isn’t usually an issue until a laboratory reaches these limits and is surprised by the cost to upgrade. Using a sample management system that is designed to grow with you- both in data size and functionality, will keep your lab running smoothly in times of growth and change.
- Maintenance and support.
Free sample management systems aren’t typically set up to provide support to their clients or solve their problems. Support and maintenance costs time and money that a free system is simply not able to expend. Underestimating the time it takes to maintain a system, get advice from a live person when you need it, and addressing bugs can mean more time away from your science and the critical work of your lab.
Free should not be an option, but you don’t need to spend a fortune.
LabKey Sample Manager is an affordable and easy-to-use sample management software designed to help labs efficiently track samples, define laboratory workflows, and unify samples with assay data. Features include:
Sample Tracking – End-to-end sample tracking features including chain-of-custody tracking, sample types and sources, and lineage views
Freezer Management – Flexible and intuitive management of freezer capacity and sample storage locations.
Sample Data Integration – Integrate assay data with your samples and assign metadata for a complete picture of your ongoing experiments
Lab Workflow Manager – Assign samples to user-defined workflows and monitor the workflow completion status at each stage for every sample