Lean Six Sigma in Laboratory Management Systems

Provide a Systematic Framework for Implementing Lean Six Sigma Workflow Analysis in LIMS

published by Quality Arete Group


Laboratory Management Information Systems (LIMS) heavily depend on workflows. This paper provides a Systematic Framework for Implementing Lean Six Sigma Workflow Analysis in LIMS. By having a framework presented, the resulting analysis will be consistent, accurate, and impartial. In addition, this framework can help to manage the ‘triple bottom line’ decision making that takes into consideration financial, social, and environmental risks, obligations and opportunities.


LIMS is essential to many laboratory activities by offering automation of laboratory processes and enabling improved efficiency and quality by adding consistency, reducing defects, and accelerating the throughput of analysis. Another benefit LIMS offer is that it enables compliance with various regulatory or non/regulatory standards.

The first LIMS appeared in the late 1960s and now it is the technology used in research and commercial laboratories. The past 54 years has seen LIMS widely adopted in several application areas from pharmaceutical development through to diamond mining and forensic science. LIMS is the core technology for many medical diagnostics companies, pharmaceutical companies, environmental testing companies, and medical laboratory companies. For example, the ability of LIMS to link specific information to samples and projects has made them particularly popular in the quality assurance / quality control environments.

Due to complexity of the processes that LIMS should handle, many companies have visited
several times buy vs. make dilemma. Many of the tools in the market require a high degree of configuration and/or customization to meet the needs of the purchasing organization and many times these tools struggle to meet the unique challenges of industry segments.

If in house or off the shelf LIMS, there is one common trend for the technology: They all heavily depend on workflows. The focus of this paper is LIMS Workflow Analysis: Tools and Techniques. The intent of this paper is to provide a reference for the purpose of thoroughly evaluating and improving LIMS Workflows. By having a framework presented, the resulting analysis will be:

  • Consistent
  • Accurate
  • Impartial

This paper is designed to guide to follow a framework that is robust and thorough. In addition the paper provides two case studies that demonstrate the benefits that these tools and techniques offer in productivity, turnaround times, and improving quality. However, each organization has its own internal culture and “way of doing things”. This paper covers areas that are essential in any LIMS Workflow Analysis. Results show a potential of significant reduction in cycle time, improvements in productivity, and increased financial benefits (60% ROI).

This paper is under review for publication. Once it is published we will update this blog.

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