eLabBlog

5 Easy Ways to “Future-Proof” Your Lab’s Digital Foundation

By Ethan Sagin 3 min read 05 Sep 2023

Where do you see your lab in five years? 

Will daily operations become fully automated with the latest robotic enhancements? 

Or will your data collection systems be integrated with AI solutions to deliver breakthrough insights faster?

While we may not be able to predict the future here at eLabNext, we think about it every day while we help our customers establish a healthy digital foundation that prepares them for wherever their research takes them in the coming years. Whether you’re just starting your digitalization journey or are a seasoned eLabNext user, here are five recommendations that you can use to “future-proof” your digital lab space.

#1: Identify Your Digital Leaders

Remember that digitalization is a marathon, not a sprint. 

Spending weeks or even months transitioning the lab’s data and workflows into your digital lab space is common. Assign a point person or steering committee to oversee this process and take ownership of decisions related to the eLabNext platform, such as how to set up the group’s sample types. These members can also serve as “super-users” of the platform who train other end users on how to use the platform in the context of their lab environment. As your lab grows into the system over time, you’ll have developed a go-to team of product experts within your organization who can anticipate the direction of your research and recommend changes to digital workflows.

#2: Define Your Local Policies

If this is your team’s first time using a Digital Lab Platform (DLP), introduce healthy digital practices within the lab from the start! Check out eLabNext’s various policies and settings at the account and group levels to standardize your date and time settings, enforce minimum password requirements, or activate signature workflows for signing off on experiments and SOPs. For labs that need to observe security or compliance rules, these are handy opportunities to “nudge” users toward certain behaviors. 

If your organization has purchased a private cloud or on-premises hosting, don’t forget to check out the enterprise settings for additional options.

#3: Establish a Role-Based Hierarchy

Everyone has a job to do, and your digital lab space should reflect that! 

All group members get assigned a role within the eLabNext platform, which determines what types of actions they can perform. Look at the makeup of your team and consider creating roles that reflect the various responsibilities within your lab: For example, a junior technician should only be able to edit their own experiments, whereas a PI has full access to all ELN entries. A well-defined hierarchy not only aligns users’ digital experience with their day-to-day tasks, but it also protects access to potentially sensitive data and prevents users from inadvertently making changes to workflow-critical resources.

#4: Develop Strong Naming Conventions

Have you ever compared notes with a colleague and had to decipher their shorthand for a sample record? A misinterpreted note can spell disaster for reproducing research findings, so we emphasize the importance of creating consistent naming conventions. Developing a standardized naming system will ensure that records remain organized as more information is added to the group over time, making it easier to search your database for a particular experiment.

#5: Customize Your Digital Lab Space for Your Needs

When it comes to lab digitalization, there is no one-size-fits-all, off-the-shelf digital solution.

That’s why eLabNext offers a range of add-ons (many are free through our Marketplace) that can expand your lab’s capabilities with utilities, custom sections, device integrations, and connections with various third-party platforms. Users can pick and choose which features support their specific workflow needs to keep their interface clean and focused.

And for any tech-savvy team members, you can even build your own Marketplace add-on using our development toolkit! Check out our Developer Experience to learn more about our open API, JavaScript-based SDK, getting started guides, and some recipes for popular add-on templates.

With the right preparations, your lab will be ready to adapt to whatever new technologies or research challenges the future holds! To learn more about what steps your team can take to future-proof your lab space, schedule a consultation with your eLabNext Digital Lab Specialist.

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