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.