The main purpose of an ELN–electronic lab notebook–is clear: taking notes, data storage, organisation. But what about the details that come later once the digital solution has been fully integrated into your workflow?
It can be a challenge to figure out exactly what your lab needs if you’ve never used an ELN. To help this process, we’ve come up with 6 crucial points to keep in mind (apart from what’s already obvious) for selecting the best solution for your unique lab–Collected from our experiences working with life science researchers and lab managers.
Apart from basic functions, consider these advanced features that aren’t always highlighted.
Sample management plays an important role in eliminating problems that may arise from a number of scientists handling large quantities of samples in one laboratory. But what are the advanced features that make it fully integrated?
An ELN with an open ecosystem is one that gives users the freedom to fully customise with not only extra features/add-ons, but also with user-developed and 3rd-party integrations. This means that the user pays only for features that they want and need–resulting in a notebook truly customised to their lab–rather than paying for features that they don’t need or won’t use.
Why is this important?
How to identify an open ecosystem ELN?
Check (or ask) if the company lists their API and SDK for use on their website.
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Users should have peace of mind that all data stored within their ELN are safe and secure.
What are the hard requirements and what do they entail?
Let’s be honest… integrating an electronic lab notebook (and training users) can be a daunting task. That’s why it’s important that the support team has people that are:
Ask a plethora of questions. Abandon vendors that are inattentive or unresponsive. A strong support team will make the biggest difference when any software hiccups emerge.
If the ELN has all the important features but lacks in user interface quality, it will only be a frustrating experience for the user. Just because skilled experts and real scientists participated in the development of the system, it doesn’t guarantee an uncomplicated user interface for all users.
There’s no better way to get familiar with an ELN than by trying it yourself.
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