Build or Buy LIMS: What is the best solution for your lab?

By Methodiq Team

Operational efficiency and organizational effectiveness are important to ensure success in today’s diagnostic laboratories. Laboratory Information Systems (LIS) and Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) lead the way in day-to-day operations. Lab leaders will have to decide whether to hire a partner to create their system which meets their unique requirements (Build) or purchase a system off-the-shelf (Buy).

When it comes to making the decision about whether to build or buy a new LIS/LIMS system for your laboratory, each has their own pros and cons, as with any technology decisions that need to be made in the modern lab. When deciding which route to take there are certain factors that will influence your decision. These include:

  • Time to market
  • Cost of development and maintenance
  • Customization
  • Functionality (Scalability/Flexibility)

Build vs Buy - What is the Best LIS LIMS Solution for Your Lab - Image 2A laboratory's information system is key to daily operations, so all the necessary criteria should be in place before choosing between a commercial solution provider or having one built for you.

Time to market

Is it possible to complete the project in the desired timeframe and within the budget parameters? This is one of the most important questions to ask when deciding on your LIS/LIMS solution.

Buying a solution off the shelf will allow you to manage your lab workflows from day one. The downside of this will be the time/money lost in research you need to do to find a solution that best fits your laboratory workflows. If that solution doesn’t fit all your workflows, you will have to do some customization in-house. Raising the price and time to market of your LIS/LIMS product.

Conversely, when you hire a partner to build a solution that considers all your laboratory workflows and data you will have a product that is tailored to your laboratory. The downside of this will be the time to market could be longer than buying off the shelf.

Cost of development and maintenance

The cost of development and maintenance is an important factor to consider when deciding on how to proceed with your new LIS/LIMS system implementation. Cost can vary widely when considering whether you should build or buy. Purchasing can be cheaper in the short term. However, when you add in customizing and maintenance the price can quickly skyrocket as opposed to hiring a team to build a system that is built for your lab.Build vs Buy - What is the Best LIS LIMS Solution for Your Lab - Image 1


All laboratories are unique but also are very similar. They all obtain samples, perform analysis to get results, compare the results and report the results. The primary reason for developing a LIS/LIMS is to make sure your final product meets the unique specifications of your laboratory. Off-the-shelf solutions can’t account for the distinctive nature of labs and fall short of being the perfect solution for most labs. Resulting in the need to update and develop the software after purchase negating the positive factors of commercial software.


Will the desired functionality (now and in the future) be achieved with off-the-shelf products? Software also plays a huge role in your lab’s ability to scale. Will your off-the-shelf system be able to grow with your organization? Labs constantly must adapt and respond to changes in new and innovative ways. Is your solution flexible enough to support these changes? These are all questions that need to be considered when deciding whether to build or buy. Knowledgeable partners can account for these issues and create a solution that is future-proof and suited for your lab.Build vs Buy - What is the Best LIS LIMS Solution for Your Lab - Image 3

Final Thoughts

If you decide to go the route of building a new LIS/LIMS system, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, it's important to have a clear understanding of the specific needs of your laboratory. What types of tests do you perform? How many samples do you process each day? What is your workflow? Answering these questions will help you determine what features and functionality your system must have.

Next, you'll need to find a team of experts to help with the development process. This team should include people with knowledge of both the laboratory business and technical aspects of building a new system.

Finally, you'll need to budget for the development process. Building a new LIS/LIMS system is not a small undertaking. But if you take the time to find the right partner that knows how to do it right, the result will be a system that meets the specific needs of your laboratory and helps you run your operation more efficiently, saving your organization money in the long run.

Need help building your own custom LIS/LIMS system for your lab?  Click here.