How to Smoothly Transition from a Limiting and Problematic ELN/LIMS

By Zareh Zurabyan 4 min read 21 Mar 2024

In the lab software space, the smoke is starting to clear.

And what I’ve seen isn’t pretty; it’s the aftermath of failed implementation of electronic lab notebooks (ELN) or laboratory information management systems (LIMS) that don’t fit the needs of Biotech and BioPharma laboratories.

On one extreme, I see classic Silicon Valley tech software organizations focused more on pretty user interfaces (UI) than truly valuable lab workflow management. Conversely, I see function-heavy, extremely technical, but non-user-friendly software, limiting adoption and use. The rise of AI/ML in drug discovery has further complicated the landscape, with scientists’ attention diversified, adding additional difficulties in the decision-making process of which laboratory software platform to use.

Overall, these problems are related to a common issue: the lack of a holistic approach to a lab’s core challenges.

The Solution: A Sample and Digital Strategy

We at eLabNext are prepared with a solution, a new concept and approach called “Sample and Digital Strategy.”

A sample is the focal point of any lab, whether cell lines, antibodies, plasmids, blood, DNA, RNA, protein, or a mouse colony. Everything starts with a sample! This sample has metadata attached to it, file outputs from your instruments, all of which can amount of millions of datasets, also known as a deep data lake.

If you do not have a strategy for efficiently managing this data and making it accessible to all of your departments, you are at risk of data loss and potential loss of IP, a victim of poor business strategy decisions. In other words, Sample and Digital Strategy is foundational in defining the lab’s business strategy and ultimately picking the right software to fit your lab’s needs.

5 Easy Steps to Implementing a Sample and Digital Strategy

If all of this sounds a little too familiar, it’s likely time to transition away from your current software solution and one that allows the implementation of a Sample and Digital Strategy. Here’s a step-by-step process for identifying a better solution for you.

Step #1: Define your Sample Strategy

Get your Sample Strategy in order. That means:

  • Consolidate your freezers and samples and use this time as an opportunity for spring cleaning, both physically and digitally. You probably have random unlabeled samples lying around; claim or toss them.
  • Clean up your Excel sheets!
  • Export the data out of old-school software or the currently problematic ones! Organize it, make your data structured, and prep it for import into a new system!
  • Consider following the guidelines provided by our #Sample360 initiative!

Step #2: Define your Digital Lab Strategy

We talk about Business Strategy. We discuss Research and IP strategy. But we hardly discuss Digital Strategy.

These days, you cannot have sustainable operations and a sustainable lab workflow if there isn’t a robust digital strategy defined right from the beginning for the lab. Within the next five years, AI and ML will completely revolutionize how we analyze our data, and if you do not start structuring your data now, you’ll fall behind. We can help you with defined steps on how to centralize your data and develop naming conventions, search, and accessibility prompts to structure your data and grow into your workflow rather than outgrow it as soon as the number of samples increases.

Find out more about how Bayer is doing this now with eLabNext!

Step #3: Prepare for Technical Transition

Prepping technically means not just diving in and releasing a new software on your staff. Take a logical and strategic approach:

First, identify the tech-savvy champions on your team that will lead this project.

  1. First, identify the tech-savvy champions on your team that will lead this project.
  2. Prepare and organize the list of your storage units (e.g., freezers, shelves, racks, etc.) and equipment (e.g., balances, HPLCs, mass specs, etc.).
  3. Prepare a list of all your samples and supplies.
  4. Make sure your Excel files are standardized and clean.
  5. Define a project/program and experiment naming convention if you haven’t already. 
  6. Identify all other software currently used in the lab for potential integrations.

Step #4: Prepare for Training

Prepare your team for Digital Strategy Training. That means doing the following:

  • Assess the existing skillset and identify the folks that have expertise in implementing new technology, and most importantly, those that are resistant to change.
  • Develop a training plan.
  • Choose the right trainers and make sure that your Digital Lab Consultant (if you’ve hired one) is someone you enjoy working with!
  • Provide hands-on experience and lead by example! You can’t promote lab digitization if you aren’t digitized yourself.
  • Foster a culture of continuous learning. Once the training is done, learning doesn’t end. With software and digital solution implementations, there are constantly new updates, new features, and creative ways to optimize your physical lab workflows. Find out more about efficient implementation here.
  • Measure your lab’s progress and outcomes.

Step #5: Set Deadlines for Implementation and Transition.

Set deadlines, or else it’ll be a never-ending project. Digital and Sample Strategy need a strong foundation, but it also needs to be cultivated constantly. For the initial kickoff of implementing new ways of doing science, it is necessary to set expectations for the whole lab and the company, communicate it effectively, and execute professionally. This will help ensure adoption success.

Spring has Sprung: A Spring Cleaning Announcement

We are currently offering a special Spring Cleaning discount for anyone who wants to transition from their problematic ELN/LIMS. This special includes:

  • 1,000 sample free Import
  • Free Import of all Equipment
  • Free Import of all Supplies
  • Free Digital and Sample Strategy consultation and training
  • Start-Up Discount for labs that have less than 10 people

If you’re interested, contact us here.

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