Laboratory Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are measures of the performance of the laboratory and its activities, such as projects, processes, products or services. KPIs in laboratories are also used to track the performance of the inventory, devices, environment, data and results.
Laboratories are data factories and therefore provide high value for the organization. Data generation is also expensive, therefore it is very important to keep your laboratories well-performing. Good business practice is to keep track of the laboratory performance by measuring KPIs.
When implementing KPIs in your lab you first need to determine what is important for the performance of the department. You can group the KPIs into three categories:
- What is directly important for the business – business-related KPIs
- What is important to keep the lab in good condition – lab condition KPIs
- How do your deliverables affect the downstream processes in the organization – KPIs about data and deliverables
The choice of KPIs will largely depend on the type of the lab you have, so you’ll find each set of KPIs assigned to one or more of the following:
- The academic research lab
- Industrial research lab
- Laboratory service
Download The spreadsheet with 40 KPIs
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The list of 40 Laboratory KPIs.
Business-related KPIsRegardless of the laboratory type, you do need money and staff to run the laboratory. Business-related KPIs, therefore, correlate your activities through time and money. If you are a laboratory service provider you’re interested to track your revenue, expenses and profits. Here are a few examples:
- Revenue: how much revenue you will generate on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis.
- Cost of sample analysis: how much do you spend on consumables, staff, and overheads per one analysis.
- Revenue per sample/analysis: what is the margin on your analyses.
- Time to perform the analysis: how much time do you need from receiving samples and notifying our customer about results
- Number of commercial projects (academic labs)
- Average project revenue (academic labs)
- Allocated budget (industrial labs)
- Number of research grants
- Average grant revenue
- Number of full-time employees
- Number of master students
- Number of PhD students
- Number of patents
- Number of scientific publications
KPIs about lab conditionKeeping the lab in good condition is the basic requirement to ensure you produce high-quality data. In this set of KPIs, you will measure how you’re doing in terms of processes, inventory, and environment. By keeping an eye on these KPIs you can quickly spot if there’s a poor performing component in your well-oiled machine and act on it. These KPIs are similar for all types of laboratories. Examples of KPIs related to processes:
- Quality control
- The time your staff spends on the bench
- Turn-around-time for the analyses
- Uptime of devices
- Total space and free space on ELN or LIMS storage
- Uptime of ELN or LIMS
- Monthly consumable use
- Amount of wasted consumables
- Consumable use per analysis
- Free space in refrigerators
- Consumables inventory size and reserve
When working on lab health KPIs be careful not to be dragged into the spiral of details. Think about what are the most critical KPIs you can implement today. Then you can add additional if it turns you need them.Environmental KPIs are also very important but often overlooked, particularly in the research labs. Some regulations require you to daily monitor the temperature in refrigerators and facilities. You could advance these systems by using an online monitoring system that directly reports the measurements to the digital system, such as ELN or LIMS. You should also measure humidity, pressure, amount of light, and even whether a window is open or closed. This can be particularly relevant in research environments with sophisticated equipment because bad environmental conditions can produce unexpected results.
KPIs about data and deliverablesThe data you generate is then delivered to the customer who makes a clinical, research, or business decision based on it. You should, therefore, monitor how good are your data and deliverables. Data quality can be monitored by performing regular quality control tests with certified reference samples. You can determine the accuracy and precision of repeated measurements on reference samples and use them as KPIs. Here are some examples of data KPIs:
- assay-specific precision of measurements,
- assay-specific accuracy of measurements,
- the regularity of reference material controls,