Jonathan Stirling recently attended the LabWare Europe 2015 Customer Education Conference in Sorrento, Italy. In the article below, he gives an overview of his visit. Funding for this visit was provided under the safefood Training & Mobility Programme. More information on the programme available here.
Jonathan is the LIMS administrator for the Northern Ireland Public Health Laboratory. He graduated from Queen's University Belfast with a BSc Microbiology and MSc Biomedical Science from The University of Ulster. He worked ten years as a Biomedical Scientist in Microbiology at the Belfast Health & Social Care Trust before a year secondment to the Public Health Laboratory, prior to taking on his latest role.
Attendees at the LabWare Europe 2015 Customer Education Conference
Aim of Visit: To be updated on changes/enhancements that had occurred with the LabWare software during the past year and future product developments. To attend training seminars on the best practises, functionality and upgrading of the software and to establish if similar approaches could be implemented at the laboratory.
Relevance: The laboratory’s information management system (LIMS) is forever evolving. As laboratory methodologies change, equipment is commissioned/decommissioned, software is unsupported, system interface changes, functionality improvements and updates are released, the LIMS must evolve to reflect these changes.
Activities: Seminars where presented on a range of topics throughout the conference; upgrading of the software, the various functionalities available e.g. debugging, creation of workflows, SQL server maintenance and the opportunity to sit the System Administration Assessment.
Knowledge Transfer: This visit was a good opportunity to get valuable training on a broad spectrum of areas/capabilities of the software used within our laboratory and it was also aimed at all types of users. Recommended best practises and functionality that would be of use in improving the daily tasks will be passed onto the general user. Automated practices that could be incorporated into our system to reduce errors or the workload of the laboratory. Guidance on the role of the LIMS administrator, the best practises on how to carry out this role and the experiences of other administrators
Added value and Benefits: This conference occurred two weeks prior to us upgrading our LabWare system. Not only did it provide advice on the upgrade process but it gave insight on the experiences/issues encountered by LabWare staff carrying out the process, as well as those of other LIMS administrators within their own organisation. We are now one week past our go live date (26th June). The upgrade process ran into a few issues but the knowledge/experience gained from those at the conference was invaluable, as it allowed us to resolve them quickly. We have also been able to introduce several automated processes, helping us to stream line our workflow.
Conclusions: We would like to thank safefood for the grant awarded. This visit has established links between staff within LabWare and those of other organisations. The laboratory endeavour to use the information obtained from this conference to upgrade, evolve and improve the LIMS.