ELNs: Selecting the Right Solution for Your Organization

What can be more thrilling – and terrifying – than getting the budget to purchase new technology for your lab? For those with the funds and the responsibility to select an electronic laboratory notebook (ELN) for your organization, the decision can be lasting. You don’t want to get it wrong. 

According to experts the most important thing you can do is buy a solution that addresses challenges and achieves stated goals, not simply evaluate and purchase a product. This requires homework on the frontend, to carefully and deliberately outline the criteria that a successful deployment must meet. 

What key outcomes do you need to achieve?

What data must be entered, and how should it be stored so that you can do with it what you need?

What is the workflow?

How will it enable collaboration? Improve data quality? Protect IP?

How easy is it to maintain, scale, and upgrade?

To select the best ELN for your needs, avoid seeking an abbreviation or exact automation of your paper methods. It is important to assess your needs beyond a simple translation of the paper-based tasks; use this as an opportunity to let technology drive enhancements – in productivity, collaboration, standards – that you may not have envisioned from a paper process.

Prepare for Change

With a strong understanding of how an ELN will improve your situation, you’re ready for step two: gaining buy-in from leadership to engage in change management. Moving researchers, lab analysts, and others from a paper notebook or computer-based methods (spreadsheets, for example) is difficult without gaining recognition that a better way exists. Involve leadership and users as you go through the process of selecting an ELN for your lab.

Preparing for change helps create the understanding of what, exactly, is required. Are there existing human or system challenges that must be overcome? What systems must the ELN connect to? What instruments? Is visualization needed? Should you use an on-premise solution, a hosted one, or one in the cloud?

Articulate Desired Outcomes

ELNs can solve many problems and bring many benefits. What is most important? At a high level, organizations often seek productivity gains – that researchers, for example, can more quickly and accurately plan experiments, record results, and search data. Collaboration is another important goal, so that the organization benefits from the shared knowledge of its researchers and analysts – and external sources as well. Other goals include:

Improved data quality, consistency, integrity

Knowledge management

Reduced repetition, rework

Data standardization and centralization

Efficient data search, retrieval, and comparison

IP protection

To gain knowledge from the ELN, it’s helpful if the solution can store your data in a structured manner and then be transferred to an analytics platform. Interfacing ELNs with visualization and analytics software or layering on tailored modules and add-on applications enable scientists to query and correlate data and generate actionable insights.

Strong ROI

The right ELN can offer a strong and swift return on investment. The financial case for an ELN stems from:

Enhanced R&D productivity and cost effectiveness, as much as 7.5% per user

Achieve a 25% improvement in your intellectual property. Your legal team is able to file more patents by taking advantage of high-quality scientific data, readily available and entered in a compliant way

Efficiency improvements – 20-30% greater than paper-based methods, redirecting 8-10 hours of user’s time per week for savings of 10% of the annual FTE-rate.

Two ELN Choices from PerkinElmer

Recognizing the many goals and needs of organizations, PerkinElmer offers two types of ELNs. For years, the on-premise, feature-rich, enterprise E-Notebook has been the market-leading ELN for major pharmaceutical, food and beverage, oil and gas, agriculture, and other industries. As many organizations are adapting to cloud technologies and the added value it brings, we introduced the next digital transformation: a cloud-based ELN built on our Signals™ platform, the Signals™ Notebook.  

Rather than attempting to “webify” E-Notebook, the Signals Notebook leverages more modern technology for workflow and decision support and global collaboration. Because it’s 100% web-based, with no downloads needed, no hardware to buy, and no IT assets to maintain, Signals Notebook provides immediate ROI for budget-minded science teams.

The highly configurable E-Notebook focuses on enterprise needs for collaboration, data quality, and increased productivity. This is accomplished with dedicated workflows for different scientific disciplines, and the data control and security that IT demands.

Both solutions enable analytics integration, which means organizations can build knowledge management systems from their ELN deployments. More than a notebook to store data, the ELN becomes the place people go to for information and to draw insight.

Is gaining better insights, faster, a main objective for you? Does your agenda include improving your laboratory efficiency and making research, experimentation, reporting, and collaborating easier for your scientists? 

If so, talk to PerkinElmer about our electronic lab notebook solutions.

Making the Move to Paperless Experiment Data Capture

A good laboratory notebook is the lifeblood of a successful laboratory, serving as a vital repository for retaining valuable experiment data. There's nothing more frustrating than—when looking to replicate an experiment that a former colleague ran— to find that the experimental details were limited (or absent), necessitating that you re-optimize the entire procedure wasting valuable time and resources. In a recent Nature Study, over 70% of researchers surveyed have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist's experiments, and more than 50% have failed to reproduce their own experiments, further justifying the importance of keeping detailed experiment records. 

Several years ago as an undergraduate working in an organic synthetic chemistry laboratory, I made it a habit to be incredibly detailed in the experimental information and observation sections of my paper notebook. However, I found it painfully laborious when re-running previous experiments to have to either completely re-write all the experimental information/observations, or to reference a previous experiment. Even more painful? The fact that I more often than not referenced the wrong experiment! 

As I began to collaborate more with my chemistry colleagues, my newfound challenge was around the ability to easily share my experimental procedures. I had to remember which paper notebook/experiment number contained the experiment of interest, which in turn required that I spend a lot of time rummaging through 10+ paper notebooks to find that single experiment. Paper notebooks take up valuable bench space, and—as one who runs dozens of experiments at any given time knows all too well— every inch of bench and hood space is valuable.

When I got to graduate school, the laboratory that I joined was transitioning to the PerkinElmer Signals™ Notebook, a browser-based electronic laboratory notebook (ELN).  Signals Notebook has literally transformed the way in which I take notes and keep track of my lab experiments for the better.

ELNs: What’s in Them for You? A few crucial benefits of using ELNs – and in particular, Signals Notebook–are captured below:

Electronic Notebooks Facilitate Collaboration: 

As aforementioned, there was nothing more frustrating than having to search through several paper notebooks to find a single experiment to share with a colleague. The good news is that, unlike paper notebooks, electronic laboratory notebooks are accessible from any computer and can be easily shared with other researchers, greatly facilitating collaboration between colleagues. Furthermore, it is also possible to share permissions with colleagues, allowing them to search through the notebook as I actively use that same notebook. 

Electronic Notebooks Store Information Online: 

We live in an ‘everything's in the cloud’ 21st century world, so storing your valuable experiments in a structured online format allows for easy access by individual researchers/collaborators and also those collaborators who require a password for entry.  Experiments and data are secure 24/7. As we look ahead, more tools will be developed that cater to electronic records, so scientific researchers will continue to enjoy the time savings, accuracy and other perks of electronic laboratory notebooks as the paperless digital framework of the laboratory expands.

Electronic Laboratory Notebooks are Searchable: 

Have a specific structure you're looking for? ELNs allow a user to simply enter their structure of interest, and the notebook will return back every experiment that either contains that specific structure or substructures of said structure. What’s more, if colleagues have shared their experiments with you, it's also possible to search across colleagues’ notebooks further catalyzing collaboration. No more rummaging through old paper notebooks to find a single experiment.


Simplified search capabilities

Electronic Laboratory Notebooks Are Green: 

Each year, the world produces a staggering 300 million tons of paper. Eliminating paper notebooks eliminates most use of paper in a laboratory (profound I know!). This is a wonderful benefit for the environment and also minimizes the cost for researchers who find themselves continually buying paper notebooks.

Electronic Laboratory Notebooks Allow For Easy Upload of Data: 

Take a ton of TLCs? Maybe run a bunch of NMR/HPLC on a given reaction? With ELNs, you seamlessly drop and drag the PDFs into your notebook, ensuring that you always have your data online for your own benefit, as well as having the ability to share data with colleague and supervisors for ongoing research updates. 


Easily transfer schemes from Signals to ChemDraw and vice-versa

Signals Notebook Runs Through ChemDraw®: 

If you make molecules, you use ChemDraw, simple as that. An electronic laboratory notebook with ChemDraw built in allows for easy export/import of experimental information and reaction schemes for research updates/presentations, saving you the time of having to redraw compounds/reaction schemes.


Designing Reactions with Signals Notebook Individual Edition

21st Century Science Made Simpler

Save yourself numerous headaches and get an electronic laboratory notebook for your lab. Most research communities— from a technological point of view— have been dragged into the 21st century kicking and screaming because of the large upfront costs required by new instruments and technologies designed to save time and resources. Signals Notebook is different. The ELN platform is inexpensive and greatly catalyzes the fast-paced, collaborative workflow of modern science happening in 21st century labs. I can't even imagine at this point of my career going back to a paper notebook.

To download your free trial of ChemOffice Professional with Signals Notebook Individual Edition built in please click here.

About the Author:

Rick Betori graduated from Baylor University Magna Cum Laude with a B.S in Biochemistry, where he was a Departmental Fellow in Chemistry and Biochemistry. 

Rick is currently a doctoral candidate in the Department of Chemistry at Northwestern University working in the laboratory of Professor Karl Scheidt. Rick is a National Institutes of Health Chemistry-Biology Interface Predoctoral Fellow and a Northwestern Department of Chemistry Departmental Fellow. Rick’s research focuses on the use of natural product inspired small molecule chemical probes to interrogate the biological role of telomerase in cancer cell development and maintenance.

Rick can be reached at rickbetori2020@u.northwestern.edu

A Global Collaborative ELN: Signals Notebook

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The ELN Evolves to Scientific Research Data Management & Decision Support

While ELNs were initially introduced primarily for IP compliance purposes, the benefits of electronic lab notebooks have extended & embraced global collaboration and workflow support. 

Today, ELN systems are positioned to manage substantial portions of R&D data in a research organization. It’s a significant shift, and it means that a properly developed & implemented ELN can play a fundamental role in decision support. 

Expanding Role of Today’s Lab Notebook Integral to Decision-Making Process

Michael Swartz, VP of Business Development at PerkinElmer Informatics recently commented in the May issue of Lab Manager’s Informatics Resource Guide

“A key objective of our approach is to provide functionality that first, is very adaptable to different research purposes, and secondly, makes it natural for scientists to structure their data in the course of their work. This enables the data in an ELN to be easily transferred to an analytics platform where researchers can decide what to do next. Enabling this natural transition from collaboration and workflow to decision support is probably the most important requirement for ELN’s today.”

This workflow represents a fundamental transformation from ELN systems in the past which served more like document repositories. Such systems - while searchable - did not structure the data to enable decision-making and analytics. 

The world of science is changing faster than ever, and scientists need an electronic lab notebook with the power and flexibility to change with it.

PerkinElmer’s new Signals Notebook web-based ELN  also delivers an effective scientific research data management solution. Write up your research data in notebooks and experiments, then drag & drop, store, organize, share, find and filter data with ease. All scientific data is electronically recorded and stored, making it simple to be more effective, reproducible, and accurate in your scientific endeavors.

It’s Not a Notebook…It’s a Place.

Signals Notebook is a centralized, secure web-based ecosystem that allows your team access anytime - from anywhere. It’s a place where people, ideas and data come together to collaborate, seamlessly share data and discover crucial insights. 

Signals Notebook is More Than an ELN

As mentioned above, ELNs are nothing new. In fact, PerkinElmer has been an industry leader in the space for years. But Signals Notebook reinvents the ELN for today’s science…and beyond. 

We’ve incorporated the market-leading chemical drawing platform, ChemDraw® – available without any additional install. We’ve also fully-integrated Signals Notebook with Microsoft Office® & Microsoft Office® Online. You can now effortlessly create or attach your Office documents with your experiments and update them.

Signals Notebook – The Global ELN for a Collaborative Scientific World

Connecting & sharing with colleagues and collaborators around the world has never been easier. Signals Notebook lets you start discussions, provide feedback, coordinate follow-on experiments, and stay in sync…anywhere, and anytime.

Scientific “Eureka” Moments Happen Faster Than Ever Before

With the support of PerkinElmer, you can be up and running in minutes! There is no software to install, since the platform is 100% web-based. With no downloads needed, no hardware to buy, and no IT assets to maintain, Signals Notebook provides immediate Return on Investment (ROI) for budget-minded science teams.

Achieve meaningful scientific breakthroughs with PerkinElmer Signals Notebook.  Learn more about PerkinElmer’s powerful new web based ELN - Signals Notebook. 


Focusing on Innovation to Solve Customer Problems

Innovation is the lifeblood of any organization. As such, how organizations define and foster a culture of innovation is critically important to their success. True innovation means improving processes and products, and finding new ways to serve customers.   

From Doblin, Deloitte Consulting's innovation practice, we know that there are 10 types of innovation  – far beyond the obvious product development, which Doblin says delivers the lowest return on investment and least competitive advantage.

So, beyond product innovation, what can organizations do to be fully innovative? Doblin breaks its 10 innovation types into three broad categories of configuration, offering, and experience. From how businesses are organized, to how products and services are made available to customers, to how customers interact with brands -- all are potential opportunities for innovation.

The Ultimate Innovation: A Problem Solved

While customers will always seek product improvements, what they are ultimately looking for are solutions to their problems. Solving our customers’ problems -- whether in the lab or how they engage with us — is the main driver of our innovation efforts. 

To help customers make informed decisions based on earlier and more accurate insights, PerkinElmer makes our numerous subject matter experts available. They possess the knowledge and expertise, not only in detection, imaging, informatics and services, but also in the scientific application of our solutions across a broad range of industries. Furthermore, our partnerships with customers strengthen our understanding of their needs and our ability to help them do their work better.

Innovation Tools 

Collaboration within PerkinElmer, with our customers, and with academic and industry leaders is essential to innovation. It’s one of the reasons we’ve deployed Spigit, the cloud-based ideation and innovation management platform. We’ve used it to drive internal innovation challenges and most recently, to include our one million ChemDraw users in the ChemDraw Innovation Challenge.

Also internally, we drive collaboration with Innovation Summits that bring together over 120 R&D scientists and product managers from around the company. These events feature incredible speakers, a technology and innovation fair, and in 2015, 25 teams of employees submitted projects for a chance to win funding to develop their ideas.  

As part of the 2016 Innovation Summit, we recognized two outstanding researchers who have demonstrated a long history of invention, commercial success, and thought leadership at PerkinElmer: Andy Tipler, a leader and innovator in the area of gas chromatography for 30 years, and Dr. Veli-Matti Mukkala, for three decades of work and leadership in the area of lanthanide chelate chemistry that underlies many of our reagent technologies. 

Precompetitive Research Initiatives

Another method of driving innovation, and lowering the cost of R&D, is participation in alliances and organizations that lead precompetitive research initiatives. PerkinElmer has joined a number of such organizations, including:

In doing this, we ensure that we’re part of the industrywide dialogues driving standards and best practices that will move science and research forward.  

Organizational Focus

In the fall of 2016, PerkinElmer named Karen Madden, formerly president of our Informatics business, to a new position as Vice President of Technology and Innovation for the entire organization. Madden leads a team that identifies new markets, technologies, and customer-driven product offerings. She is also focused on infusing the customer voice into our innovation efforts and challenging conventional thinking and approaches. 

In addition to Innovation Summits that recognize and motivate employees, Madden says meaningful culture changes can stimulate an innovative environment. She points to a story that NASA engineer Adam Steltzner told to PerkinElmer employees about his work at the Jet Propulsion Lab to land the rover Curious on the surface of Mars.

The culture of innovation arises from the brutal combat to which ideas are subjected,” Steltzner had said. Madden agrees that when ideas go to battle with other ideas and suggestions, the idea which emerges is the strongest and best.

“Very importantly, the people with the ideas can walk away feeling good and not that they themselves have been through a battle,” she says. “This was key in Adam’s experience of finding the most innovative solutions and made the mission a success.”

What Does All of This Mean For Our Customers?

Our promise is more than better products; it’s better solutions to customer problems. Driving innovation throughout our organization, in all our customer interactions, is becoming more intentional. 

That kind of drive was behind our innovative PerkinElmer Signals™ for Translational informatics platform. In response to difficulties working with siloed data that was hampering discovery, this solution enables translational scientists to search and integrate clinical and research data and seamlessly explore and make new biomarker discoveries using the analytics and visualization power of TIBCO Spotfire®

It’s also why we partner with customers like Johnson & Johnson, where we provide onsite expertise at its JLABS locations. Our services – from validation to scientific and multivendor asset management – are helping to reduce lab complexities and increase efficiencies.

When we are focused on finding new and better ways to help customers overcome problems and achieve their goals, that’s being innovative. 


How Analytics Centers of Excellence Improve Service & Save Costs

Centers of Excellence: Centralizing Expertise
The “Center of Excellence” as a business model has an assortment of definitions and uses. In general, such “centers” are established to reduce time to value, often by spreading multidisciplinary knowledge, expertise, best business practices and solution delivery methods more broadly across organizations.

They have been identified as “an organizing mechanism to align People, Process, Technology, and Culture” or - for business intelligence applications - as “execution models to enable the corporate or strategic vision to create an enterprise that uses data and analytics for business value.” Still others define these centers as “a premier organization providing an exceptional product or service in an assigned sphere of expertise and within a specified field of technology, business or government…

Using a CoE to Improve Business Intelligence
In approaching how the Center of Excellence (CoE) concept might improve business intelligence (BI), analytics, and the use of data in science-based organizations, PerkinElmer Informatics has developed an Analytics Center of Excellence to deliver service for our customers.

As a framework, the CoE offers ongoing service coverage by experts from a variety of domains, including IT & architecture, statistics and advanced analytics, data integration & ETL, visualization engineering and scientific workflows. In many cases an expert is located at your facility and then leverages a wider range of remote staff, to provide support, reduce costs, and eliminate red tape and paperwork.

There are four pillars to our Analytics CoE for your organization: 

Architecture Services
Mainly for IT, this covers architecture strategy, sizing and capacity planning, security and authentication, connectivity and integration planning, and library management

Governance Services
Centralizing planning, execution and monitoring of projects, Program Management approach to managing multiple work streams, Steering Committee participation, SOPs and best practices, and change management

Value Sustainment Services
Expertise for subject matter consulting, support, hypercare, roadmap and future planning, and analytics core competency

Training & Enablement Services
Training needs assessment, training plans, courseware development, training delivery and mentoring

Cost Savings with Standardized BI Solutions
PerkinElmer’s Analytics CoE leverages TIBCO® Spotfire to help our customers get the most out of this technology as quickly as possible - from the experts. Very often - especially at mid- to large-enterprises - the question is asked, “Why aren’t we standardized on a single BI solution?”

It’s a good question.

Rather than investing time, effort, and money in evaluating, implementing, and maintaining and updating several BI solutions, not to mention training staff to use them, considerable cost savings can be gained from deploying a standard business intelligence solution across the enterprise. And the savings can be further supplemented because the Analytics CoE covers both foreseen and unforeseen needs.

Under an Analytics CoE implementation, cost savings are derived from:

  • Economy of scale from a suite of informatics services
  • Reduced administration efforts for both customer and vendor
  • “Just-in-time” project delivery that engages the right resources at the right time

Reducing the Pharma Services Budget
After converting to the Analytics CoE model, a top 25 pharmaceutical company saved 50% on its services budget, relative to TIBCO® Spotfire. This was possible because the services were bid out once - not for every service engagement. Purchasing service engagements was significantly less fragmented, and the high costs of supporting multiple tools & platforms and responding to RFPs was greatly reduced.

Standardizing on an Ongoing Service Model
Centralizing around a formal service model focuses management of the vendor relationship on a single partner – who truly becomes a partner as they manage projects across multiple domains and departments. 

The Analytics CoE model, also called competency centers or capability centers, oversees deployments, consolidation of services, dashboard setup and platform upgrades - all without the additional burden of new RFPs, vetting of new vendors, and establishing new relationships.

The benefits of standardizing on an ongoing service model, centered on a standard BI platform, include:

  • Holistic approach to deploying analytics solutions across the organization
  • Cost savings from reducing the number of tools used 
  • IT organization isn’t spread too thin as it no longer has to support multiple systems
  • Greater departmental sharing
  • Improvements beyond the distributed model

In addition, there are numerous reasons for analytical organizations to adopt an Analytics CoE:
  • Program Management managing multiple project workstreams and chairing Steering Committee meetings to provide management insight into solution delivery.
  • High quality of subject matter expertise (SME) available for your projects; SMEs are pulled in as needed and are billed against CoE.
  • Significant savings over typical daily rates – up to 50%.
  • Flexible engagement period.
  • Hourly rate fees move from the FTE model to “pay for what you use” further reduce costs.
  • Multiple projects billed against Analytics CoE.

Are you ready for true service excellence in your data-driven organization? Find out if PerkinElmer’s Analytics Center of Excellence is a good fit.

Contact us at informatics.insights@PERKINELMER.COM

Empowering your Research using Elements: Review by Chemjobber

“Republished without modification and  with the permission of Chemjobber” bit.ly/1xIptwZ

Electronic lab notebooks have already penetrated most larger scientific organizations, industrial or academic. Smaller companies or universities may not have the institutional support to offer a standard electronic notebook format.

Towards that end, PerkinElmer Informatics has come up with Elements, a simple cloud-based electronic notebook/project space that can be used to write up any scientific experiment in a collaborative, real-time format. Your coworkers can see what you're up to and you can see what your collaborators are doing as well.

While Elements is aimed at all scientists, I've approached this from the perspective of a bench chemist. PerkinElmer being the owners of ChemDraw, Elements contains a HTML5 version of the program. Click a few buttons, and you can use the in-notebook format to start drawing up your reaction. As you're drawing your experiment in the page, Elements automatically populates the entries in the stoichiometry table. Adjusting reagent equivalents is simple; the program will adjust the masses accordingly.

The "quick add" line is helpful, assuming the database has your reagent. Phenylalanine, THF, BF3-etherate -- not a problem. Sodium borohydride and borane-dimethylsulfide? Not so much. Even then, you can use the ChemDraw to draw your reagents in the window and the stoichiometry table will update itself.

There's lots of different files that you can add to your virtual notebook page. You can include PDFs (NMRs and HPLC traces, anyone?). There is, of course, a section for you to write out your results and conclusions as well. I've tried out Elements on my work computer, my home laptop as well as my not-so-modern iPad and they all work fine. (I don't know if anyone is actually using iPads in the lab yet). 

I would recommend Elements to any small organization that is looking to transition to electronic notebooks and is exploring different options; it's familiar and simple, which is a nice combination. Try a Free Trial here!