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laboratory information management system (LIMS).

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Frequently Asked Questions about MSC-LIMS

How do I evaluate MSC-LIMS?

All the information you need to get started is available on MSC-LIMS.com. We suggest you follow the steps outlined in the Evaluation Guide.

Is MSC-LIMS complete?

Yes. All normal lab procedures may be accomplished within MSC-LIMS: single sample or batch log-in, results entry by sample or analyte, sample summary reports and other reporting options such as Excel reports, invoicing, scheduling instrument maintenance, and recording employee certifications.

How flexible is MSC-LIMS?

Current MSC-LIMS installations include water and wastewater, commercial environmental, food testing, and petrochemical applications. Between configuration variables and customizations, MSC-LIMS can adapt to a variety of situations.

What about MSC-LIMS' user interface?

MSC-LIMS' is intuitive, because its tab-style menu is immediately comprehensible. See MSC-LIMS is the Solution for more about the user interface, including screen captures. Explore the Demo and you will see that the sub-menus are similarly organized across all modules, and the one-click navigation is very straightforward.

How much does MSC-LIMS cost?

MSC-LIMS is available under either a Full System license (which comes complete with source code, so labs can customize the system), or a low-cost Annual Subscription license (which, although configurable like the Full System license, does not include source code). Both licenses are available in single- or multi-user versions, and may be purchased with optional on-site installation and training. See the complete, "no surprises" Price list for details.

What is the difference between configuring and customizing?

When configuring a LIMS, you control the behavior and appearance of the system without modifying the program's source code. When customizing a LIMS, the system's behavior and appearance are altered by modifying source code.

Is the system configurable?

Yes, under both licenses the system may be configured to fit the needs of the lab. By entering information in user-friendly data entry screens, the lab's designated "LIMS Administrator" configures much of the system's operating parameters.

Configuration variables include analytes, projects, sample types, locations, units, preservatives and containers, customers and their contact information, information on outside labs, sample test locations, analysis prices and multipliers, sample turn-around requirements, sample completion warnings; also lab personnel certifications, login names, passwords and security levels, etc.

Configuration options at each individual workstation include enabling/disabling automatic detection of sample warnings and schedules, and automatic label and report printing.

Can I customize the system?

Yes, if you purchase a Full System license. See answers to Customizations FAQs.

Is the source code included?

Yes, with the Full System license which includes all Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) source code.

No, not with the Annual Subscription license which includes a non-source code version of the system.

I don't need or want to customize, so what are my options?

If you do not need to customize the system, you may be well served by MSC-LIMS' Annual Subscription, our inexpensive non-source code version. See answers to Off The Shelf FAQs.

Will MSC-LIMS handle my sample processing volume?

As an all-Access application, MSC-LIMS is designed to be an affordable solution for small labs. MSC-LIMS is available in both single-user and multi-user versions for small workgroups of up to twenty concurrent users. MSC-LIMS is suitable for labs processing up to 75,000 samples per year and up to 300,000 analyses per year.

Can our existing system's data be loaded into the LIMS?

We have performed data conversions to preload the MSC-LIMS database with historical data from existing LIMS and sample tracking systems - see answers to Historic Data FAQs. However, only data that can be massaged to fit the MSC-LIMS model can be converted. The extent to which your sample data can be converted will depend on its organization and structure. Data such as client lists are easily loaded into the LIMS.

What documentation is included with the system?

The following electronic documents are included with every MSC-LIMS license: MSC-LIMS User's Guide, MSC-LIMS Messaging User's Guide, Installation Guide, and Release Notes. Full System licenses also include MSC-LIMS Programmer's Guide. See Documentation for more information.

The User's Guide is a 150-page document that provides a complete description of the components of MSC-LIMS along with detailed instructions for configuring and operating the system. The Guide includes a detailed, step-by-step Quick Start chapter. Quick Start accompanies the new user on a painless tour of MSC-LIMS. Using a "here's what you do next and here's why" approach, Quick Start introduces system configuration screen by screen, and guides a series of examples from login to logical conclusion.

Loaded with Notes, Tips and techniques, and numerous hyper-linked cross-references to the User's Guide text, Quick Start is a valuable tool to all users of MSC-LIMS.

Is adjusting to MSC-LIMS a laborious task?

Because of the user friendly interface, even those with little or no computer experience can become comfortable with MSC-LIMS. It also helps that MSC-LIMS is fully customizable, so you do not have to "adjust" to the demands of the LIMS; MSC-LIMS will adjust to fit your needs. See the case study "LIMS Fits Labs" for one lab's experience introducing MSC-LIMS to their lab.

You may consider purchasing two- or three-days on-site installation and training. An MSC-LIMS programmer will visit your lab to assist you with installing the LIMS, configurization, and administration tasks. The final half-day of training is normally reserved for operator training and covers the daily tasks of sample login, results entry, and report generation.

Labs may also choose the self-training route. MSC-LIMS' User's Guide includes a detailed, step-by-step Quick Start chapter. Quick Start accompanies the new user on a painless tour of the system, introduces system configuration, and guides a series of examples from login to logical conclusion.

How long does it normally take to implement the system?

Implementing an MSC-LIMS system is accomplished by first configuring operating parameters. Once the system is configured, you may begin logging samples immediately. Depending on the extent of configuration data the LIMS Administrator(s) may require a few days to a few months to completely configure all aspects of the system for their lab environment. However, configuration can easily be approached incrementally, so more routine samples are accommodated first and additional capabilities are added as necessary or as resources permit.

During on-site training, sufficient site-specific configuration data is added so that trainees can complete the processing of at least a few samples, from login, worksheet generation, and results entry, to final reporting.

The demo I downloaded from your web site is informative, but I need more information. How can I run and test the actual system?

We can arrange a remote demo using VNC (Virtual Network Computing) software, where you connect to one of our workstations and work with the full system. You will need to download the free VNC Viewer software to a workstation with Internet access to make the connection.

A cost-effective option is to simply purchase a very affordable single-user Annual Subscription license, which includes unlimited technical support for one year. See the Price list for details.

Can you provide references?

Yes. Most of our clients have graciously offered to provide references to prospective users. In respect of our clients' privacy, we always contact them and request permission before providing their names. And so that we do not unnecessarily impose on our clients, we prefer that requests for references be limited to the final stages of the procurement process. See User Comments for a sample of what clients are saying about MSC-LIMS.

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