IDBS Blog | 21st July 2015

Push/pull: Collaboration Across External Partners in Bioanalysis

As outsourcing becomes more prevalent across scientific domains, and in the bioanalysis sphere in particular, the importance of effective collaboration tools has come to the forefront. More and more companies are turning to external providers to help cut costs and increase speed to market. But what happens to the data when firms enter these types of arrangements?

Historically if a pharmaceutical company sponsored a study, as the sponsor, that organization would be responsible for the work. But, over the last couple of decades, the burden has shifted towards the service provider, placing the onus on the contract research organization (CRO). Under this increased scrutiny, standardized processes can go a long way towards ensuring that data is captured, stored and delivered between organizations appropriately.

Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) have often been used by CROs to manage samples and for tracking experiments. But if you want to collaborate properly and stand out in this competitive marketplace, it isn’t enough to talk just about the life history of a sample. Now you need to be able to share the wider points around the sample – e.g. the context in which the experiments were set. Usually this has been recorded on paper, but things really get interesting when you bring in a process execution system which can visualize what was done with the sample within the context of the procedure.

Giving a sponsor access to this type of platform boosts insight and enables smooth transfer of data between organizations in a format that works for everyone. It opens up two-way communication and data sharing. Moreover you can also transfer over the process and context of how the experiment was created. From the CRO perspective this delivers extra value to the sponsor and, on a basic level, makes storing relevant data in line with regulatory requirements straightforward and easy to recall down the line.

The key to moving from working with ‘external providers’ to true ‘external partners’ lies in a push/pull approach to data sharing. A basic electronic laboratory notebook (ELN) will deliver transfer of a document and LIMS will give you the sample information and final result. But in today’s lab scientists need added context to bring their research to life – and that’s where a powerful ELN and process execution system come into their own.

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