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Frequently Asked Questions about MSC-LIMS Customizations

What is the difference between configuring and customizing a LIMS?

When "configuring" a LIMS, you control the behavior and appearance of the system using built-in options, without modifying the program's source code. Configurable, user-specified elements include analyses and sample types, clients' records and contact information, analysis prices and multipliers (see answers to General and Off the Shelf FAQs for more about configuring). All MSC-LIMS systems are fully configurable.

When "customizing" a LIMS, the system's behavior and appearance are altered by modifying source code. Customizations can be extremely flexible, such as incorporating existing sample identification systems or adapting to accommodate unique business processes. MSC-LIMS' Full System licenses include source code, and are therefore fully customizable.

Is it really worth the trouble to customize? Why not just purchase a one-size-fits-all product?

As a rule of thumb, a system that satisfies 80 percent of a lab's requirements "off the shelf" may be considered a good fit. The remaining 20 percent of a lab's requirements can be met through customization. Customizations are an important tool for many labs because, without customizations, labs must adapt their business practices to meet the system's rules and requirements. We have found that many labs are unwilling to make what might amount to wholesale changes in their day to day operations.

Also, because many one-size-fits-all products try to address many contingencies, they may be enormously complex. Consequently, they may also be enormously expensive. So customizations serve to keep costs down.

Is MSC-LIMS customizable?

MSC-LIMS Full System license includes source code and is therefore fully customizable. MSC-LIMS' Annual Subscription license does not include source code and may not be customized; however, it is an affordable solution if your needs are met by MSC-LIMS off the shelf.

Can MSC assist us with our customizations?

Yes, our programmers can work with you to design and implement the necessary software enhancements that will best serve your lab. Customizations can be made either prior to delivery or as a later add-on to your system. See answers to Services FAQs.

Can we customize the system ourselves?

Yes, if you purchase a Full System license. Since all VBA source code is included with Full System licenses, the system can be customized by you or members of your own I.T. group. By following the guidelines in the MSC-LIMS Programmer's Guide, custom features can be added.

The Programmer's Guide is included with all Full System licenses, and is intended for software development personnel who plan on customizing the system's software and database objects. This document outlines the system's architecture, describes the programming conventions used in the software, and lists customization guidelines to follow to preserve the ability to install version updates.

Can we customize without redesigning all of the screens?

Yes. The Custom tab on the main menu is reserved for access to site-specific features. Also, many system configuration and data screens feature dedicated real estate for custom fields.

After we integrate our customizations, how do we handle version upgrades?

Follow the customization guidelines to preserve the ability to install version updates. MSC-LIMS includes extensive features specifically designed to isolate customizations, so version upgrades do not affect your site's customizations. "Hooks" are provided to add custom features, including dedicated screen real estate, replaceable system reports, and event models to alter standard system behavior or add unique business rules.

System administrators can use these streamlined capabilities to apply future MSC-LIMS version updates without reapplying customizations. And automatic updates allow system administrators to distribute updated MSC-LIMS software to all LIMS workstations.

What are some examples of customizations made by other labs?

Because of MSC-LIMS' inherent flexibility, customizations can meet a lab's existing business practices, unique record keeping or data tracking systems.

One example is a lab which needed to maintain their established and quite involved sample identification numbering system. After customizing, MSC-LIMS automatically assigns the innovative sequential report numbers to a sample batch the moment it is logged. Similarly, another site needed to preserve their previously used sequential sample numbering, which was easily accommodated through customization.

Other common customizations are the addition of site-specific fields used to record additional sample characteristics not easily maintained in an existing MSC-LIMS field. Unique business rules may also demand site-specific validation of sample characteristics, which are implemented through simple customizations.

What exactly is included with the customizable Full System license?

All Full System licenses include MSC-LIMS, MSC-LIMS Archiving, and MSC-LIMS Messaging software with all Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) source code.

All Full System licenses also include the on-line documentation set MSC-LIMS User's Guide, MSC-LIMS Messaging User's Guide, MSC-LIMS Programmer's Guide, Installation Guide and Release Notes.

Each Full System licenses also includes a license to install the system on a specified number of workstation(s) depending upon license, and the first year's unlimited technical support and version updates. Technical support may be renewed annually. See the Price list for details.

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