Pharmaceutical researchers grappling with the implications of staff cutbacks need to make sure that software systems are contributing to getting more results from fewer resources, said Huw Loaring.
Accelerating the drug development process and bringing more compounds to market faster in order to cut costs is a challenge in itself, but now that has to be done under the restrictions imposed by staffing reductions, added Loaring, systems director at Lablogic Systems.
On top of that, many companies are scrutinising the amount of research work that they contract out with a view to restricting its use, or even curtailing it altogether.
In response, most project managers look for the answer in maximising the productivity of their staff, but it is important in doing so that they do not lose sight of the equally important role that their software systems play.
The current economic climate will make the shortcomings of systems more than usually apparent.
The Laboratory Information Management System in particular has a central role in every project, so as the workload increases it will really begin to come into its own - or reveal the signs of strain that will put a question mark over its ability to contribute in difficult circumstances.
According to Lablogic, its ADME-specific Lims, Debra, can help thanks to features that increase efficiency and productivity in ways that go beyond merely compensating for reductions in staffing.
For example, it captures raw data either directly from the balance or via sample result files from analytical instrumentation systems, saving time and labour, plus eliminating transcription errors unavoidable with manual entry of data.
By implication, this also vastly reduces the amount of QC time that has to be spent checking the correctness of data.
When the study is completed, Debra's document management system produces reports as soon as the last sample has been collected, integrating tables, graphs and text through an automated link to Microsoft Word into a final report template chosen to include all the data required in a format appropriate to the study.
Debra records the document history, highlighting changes between versions, and thereafter data from the study is immediately available online for review at any time, so there is no need for data files and archiving of paper records.
The benefits of these features in a context where labour is in shorter supply are self-evident, but putting an exact value on installing Debra is difficult.
However, Loaring said that his experience is that most clients report a return on investment within 12-18 months.