It happens to everyone: enterprise software systems gradually become outdated as user needs change and technology advances. ChemWare was in this exact spot when they turned to us to help them update their technology solutions for health and environmental laboratory information management.
Looking to enhance technology adaptability, ChemWare partnered with us to help modernize its HORIZON® LIMS (laboratory information management system) application. The tool is the backbone for managing health and environmental laboratory sampling, reporting and regulatory needs. The system’s core functionality worked well, but they wanted to update the design and make the product more user-friendly.
One of our core competencies is iterative design, and this project provided an extra challenge: a rolling launch. We needed to maintain the legacy database in tandem with releasing new version features, piece by piece. For example, lab technicians needed to be able to enter lab tests and see that record in both versions of the application. A rolling launch would allow HORIZON LIMS users to benefit from new features immediately and provide instant feedback.
With functionality workflows intact, we focused on updating the system from a forms-based interface to a browser-based interface, which allowed it to take better advantage of modern technology, and improved the workflow and user experience tremendously. The lab sampling process was also paper-intensive, so we needed to look for efficiency gains by digitizing the complete chain of custody workflow—from receiving samples and testing, to billing and reporting.
Alongside the v12 architectural changes, the new .NET-based interface introduces a number of groundbreaking usability, customization, and data visualization enhancements. And despite the ground-up UI redesign, v11 users can expect to upgrade to v12 with no loss of functionality and little to no retraining.
Since we needed to release a new version in tandem with updating and supporting the HORIZON LIMS legacy system, we collaborated with ChemWare on the project scope and prioritizing all of the major features. We then worked through each component.
To get started, we selected several large, important processes, such as accepting new samples into the system, and designed solutions that enabled lab technicians to work in both versions of the application. This enabled a lab to start benefitting from new features immediately.
To ensure usability, we also needed to understand the day in the life of a lab tech. To develop our industry expertise and gain insight, we worked with a lab to uncover their lab sample workflows and pain points. This informed how we designed features and workflows around user needs.
The application is a complete, end-to-end lab management tool. It allows labs to manage the entire lifecycle of a sample, from receipt of the sample to reporting results. It also supports other activities that surround that lifecycle, such as billing, inventory and more. One important feature of the new version allows a lab to go mostly paperless. Previously, a lab recorded the containers, tests, samples, and transfer information on a piece of paper, which trailed a sample around the lab through the workflow process. Updated functionality allows lab techs to scan this chain of custody document into the system and view it on screen to speed data entry.
Return on investment
Moving from a form-based interface to a browser-based interface allowed ChemWare to stay competitive in the market by providing a modern tool that takes advantage of today’s technology. The new version of the software also allows labs to customize it to suit their individual needs, and improves efficiency with smart data entry solutions.