The biggest guy on the prison basketball court rules.
The idea of 'Winning the Peace' really means you beat up your enemies until they accept your positions.
When resources are low in the petri dish, organisms start eating each other.
These three facts taken together explain the condition of today's LIMS industry. Let's look at each in turn.
It's My Ball I Said!
Larger companies can make more noise. They have sales professionals eager to explain how their offerings are superior to the competition. They are the biggest guys on the basketball court. It can be likened to a prison because, let's face it, the goal is to lock you into using a particular system.
Which are you more likely to hear about -- Alfred H. Knight's bespoke LIMS successfully used in their commercial labs or John Boother (managing director at AutoScribe Ltd., a LIMS vendor) writing for LabManager Magazine who refers to a bespoke system as, "... bespoke/custom software specifically written to meet the customer's requirements, typically a one-off program representing a 'snapshot in time' set of requirements"?
Since John took the time to enumerate some things you should consider when choosing a system let's look at them:
- "...issues of ongoing support..." - Here's a shocker friendly readers, vendors (normally) do not provide free support. It is going to cost you typically some percentage of the per-seat license cost yearly. If the cost of hiring your own IT gurus versus paying for 'ongoing support' is equal or less than this then the issue is a moot one. Furthermore, it is a specious advantage at that -- how do you know that a vendor can respond to your needs in a timeframe that matters to your business? If a bug is fixed in three months and you needed it two months ago you have lost your client (or worse) and have to face the consequences.
- "...upgrades..." - You can't upgrade a bespoke system? Nonsense. I think the argument here is that vendors normally should automatically send you smaller releases for free that fix bugs. After some period of time a vendor will stop supporting older versions of their software. That means no more free bug fixes and you cannot crack open their software to fix it yourself. Your only option? Fork over the money for the new version whether you are ready to do that or not.
- "...enhancements..." - This one doesn't make sense. This is actually the area where a bespoke system should shine -- you have ALL of the source code so you can enhance it forever. You can hire people to enhance it for you. You can determine whether an enhancement is worth adding or if it threatens to destabilize your entire system. You cannot do that in many cases with a vendor-supplied system because you cannot access the source code.
- "...future configurability..." - Aha! Finally a score for a commercial system. If you build your system to just do what you needed and did not add things to allow for easy modification in the future you will have painted yourself into a corner. But this has nothing to do with bespoke systems -- that is a description of system architecture. A bespoke LIMS can be just as configurable as a commercial one if the authors elected to spend the money to make it that way OR if it was constructed with pre-built parts.
- "...etc.. - Yes, of course 'etc.', because you have heard it all before. It has been repeated and repeated until it resembles the U.S. Constitution or some other untouchable list of edicts.
'Winning' You Into a Pulp
Next we have to face up to this idea of 'Winning the Peace.' If peace is defined as the cessation of hostilities it should also in some way describe a means for redress for those concerned. That's one take on this whole peace business. The other way is to beat the enemy down until they will accept just about anything.
The objective of articles that openly attack organizations that utilize bespoke systems is to move along this absurd process of 'Winning the Peace.' The aim is to spread fear and doubt and to ignore facts that contradict the existing predominant commercial paradigm. It goes beyond saying, 'It's my ball' and adds, 'my ball is the only ball that can be used on this court!' You cannot argue with this because it is not based on logic. It is the mindset of the bully and it is a limiting one.
The Breadcrumb Death Match
So now we know that the paradigms in use today in the LIMS marketplace are based on power relationships. It is the 'etc.' -- the subtle replacement of sensibility and objectivity and the gradual infusion of doubt and inaccuracy that causes the LIMS purchaser to instantly reject the very possibility of anything that resembles 'bespoke'.
As this process continues the smaller vendors will be subjugated by their more powerful adversaries or bought out. Then consolidation ensues until your choices become limited to a handful of sources. Prices increase. Support cycles lengthen. The responsiveness of your business becomes somehow embroiled in the politics of a vendor and where you sit in their pecking order of clients.
This is the breadcrumb death match -- a competition to dissuade people from eachother's solutions; not to share, not to promote common understanding. It is all seek and destroy.
But there is a better way...
The problems of many bespoke systems revolve around cost. Working alone you can only afford to do so much. But what if you combined your efforts with those of other organizations? Suddenly the cost issue decreases. The problem shifts from writing a LIMS to constructing one from pre-built parts. Sharing and building a common understanding -- you know, some of those things that got you interested in science in the first place -- take precedence as organizations with smaller budgets work collaboratively to develop reusable system components. DIY LIMS aims to solve the main problems of bespoke system development through these and many more strategies.Go Back
Citation: The Breadcrumb Death Match. (2014). Retrieved Mon May 1 02:07:00 2017, from http://www.limsexpert.com/cgi-bin/bixchange/bixchange.cgi?pom=limsexpert3;iid=readMore;go=1392849138