GGA White Papers
Trends in Sample Management in the Life Sciences
Sample management in the life sciences is undergoing a fundamental restructuring as a result of a several influences. First, market pressure has resulted in an emphasis on increasing the rate of discovery and lowering the cost. Second, global consolidation presents life science companies with the need to integrate existing stockpiles of substances from physically disparate organizations. Third, the boundary between the company and the rest of the world has become blurred as third-party services, including CROs and off-site storage vendors, are playing an increasing role in providing functions that were once tightly held within the company. This trend has increased the need for well-defined security within formerly internal sample management systems.
Fourth, the dynamics of global transport have shifted the cost equation toward shipping samples from the most cost-effective source to the point of use rather than preparing substances at the point of use. Fifth, this increased traffic in compounds, often international, means that sourcing teams must contend with an increasingly complex array of international, national, regional and local regulations related to safety, export/import, taxes and other matters as well as with multiple currencies and fluctuating exchange rates. Sixth, the increasing availability of real-time pricing and information from external vendors and internal stockrooms creates the possibility for highly flexible sourcing of substances as prices and stocks change. Seventh, the increasing use of technology—from robotic sample managers to RFID—in sample management means that sample management systems must be able to integrate with an increasing variety of hardware and software. In short, sample management has rapidly become an area of very complex logistics and a key part of a company's plans to improve research productivity and reduce costs.
GGA is pleased to be actively engaged with leaders in the industry to help them adapt to and benefit from the massive changes in sample management. We believe that the trends described above are driving the need for a new generation of intelligent sample management systems. The requirements of sample management are now too complex to burden working scientists with the intricacies of procuring the right sample at the right price in the right time. Rather, scientists will be asked to define only what needs to be done, and specialized compound management teams will undertake the details of sourcing the samples. These teams will benefit immensely from intelligent software that can directly account for the various factors affecting the availability and cost of samples and the time-to-completion for requests.
We believe that in the near future, these systems will be able to present scientists and compound managers with the choice of alternative strategies for balancing cost and time-to-completion for each specific request. Once the desired set of samples and the procurement strategy is selected, these applications will interface with corporate financial and procurement systems, vendor systems, internal stockroom management systems, scientist's workflow software, and other applications to orchestrate the process of bringing the requested compounds to the scientist's bench.
The next generation of intelligent sample management systems will need to be engineered for scalable and secure global use by thousands of users inside and outside the traditional pharmaceutical company and for easy integration with a rapidly changing portfolio of hardware and software systems. As companies continue to drive cost out of the sample management process, automation of repetitive tasks—both computational and physical—will be required, and to accomplish that, the software must be built so that it can be driven by other software and can drive other software directly. GGA has over a decade of experience creating scalable, global applications with well-defined robust APIs that allow for the integration of the software into computer-driven systems.