February 28, 2021
Updated: October 18th, 2023
Migrating data during a freezer management system upgrade can be difficult and frustrating. So difficult in fact, many labs continue to use an outdated system long after it is no longer serving their needs and is unsupported by their IT department. Sometimes, the legacy system has even become a hindrance to sample management operations, becoming inflexible to new research needs and unable to take on evolving security risks.
Don’t let the challenge of migrating to a new system deter you from taking on the rewards of upgrading your freezer management software. Improved organization and management of your lab samples are just two ways upgrading your freezer management will pay off for the hassle.
Below are a few tips for a painless switch while upgrading to a new freezer management system.
Develop a plan for migrating to your new system that includes a timetable for which freezer data will be migrated and roles/responsibilities during the process. Make that your team is trained on the new system and that you are communicating clearly throughout the process. We recommend including and enforcing a last use date for the old system.
Before anything, it’s important to have a secure and stable backup of data for record-keeping and disaster recovery. During the migration process, this backup will serve as a record of your legacy system data—some of which may not transfer over to the new freezer management system. Create system-wide backups for recovery, but also human-readable backups for data mining if an unlikely event happens.
Take this as an opportunity to clean up legacy data and items in the freezer. This might even be a good time to defrost and clean your freezers if they are not on a regular defrosting schedule. Focus on the essential samples and related data to keep your system and your freezers clutter-free. For each sample type, determine the list of fields exported from the legacy system and how they will map to the new system. Document data types, field validation (required fields or a specific range of values), and any other requirements such as relationships between samples and sources.
This might be the most important step, as training is crucial to maintaining organization after taking the leap to a freezer management upgrade. If you have staff that work at various times or locations, host multiple training sessions at different times, so everyone has the flexibility and opportunity to make it. Aim to keep everyone on the same training curricula, so no one is learning ad hoc ways to do things, contributing to future chaos, and collaboration is easy and possible. The software company you choose may even have training resources available to help get everyone on board with the upgrade.
When choosing a system, make sure to consider the support you will need to implement and maintain your new system. Look for well-qualified support members like product specialists and account managers at the software company of your choice, and make sure you are happy with the level of support available long-term.
During onboarding, some freezer management systems try to make it straightforward and easy to upload your own data. However, based on your data and decision, this may not be as easy as it sounds. Thankfully, many vendors offering freezer management systems offer migration services, so ask for help! If the system you’re moving to doesn’t offer this, consider hiring a consultant or contractor to help if your team members are too busy or you need advice.
If you are interested in upgrading to our freezer management software, LabKey Sample Manager is a great solution and provides:
Take a tour and learn more about freezer management with LabKey.