How to Pick the Best Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN)
A reliable electronic laboratory notebook (ELN) is an essential tool for any modern lab. Picking the best Electronic Lab Notebook can enhance lab performance and budgeting by streamlining workflows and assisting with data management, reporting, regulatory compliance, and more.
This customized technology is designed to help laboratory teams stay organized, ensuring everyone—from the technician to the manager—is on the same page. There are many reasons to switch to an ELN, but not all ELNs are created equal. Here are five important questions to consider when you want to pick the best Electronic Lab Notebook for your lab:
1) What does my lab need most?
There are many different ELNs on the market and while some of them may be great for your lab, others might not be. The first step before purchasing an ELN is to identify and understand the distinct needs of your lab. For example, you might need an ELN to help efficiently complete tasks such as:
- Data entry
- Process automation
It is also important to consider how the software will integrate with the task-based systems in place at your facility and whether there are any limitations that could prevent its efficacy. Do your research to understand the different features of the tools available; this will help you pick the best Electronic Lab Notebook for supporting your team in meeting its targets.
2) Is it user-friendly?
The best ELN will be easy to use. An ELN should be intuitive and will offer training resources that help users become familiar with the system’s features—allowing them to navigate it independently with ease. This is especially essential for today’s workers who are increasingly working remotely from laptops and mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. A good ELN will be ready to adapt as society and technology changes over time—introducing new features and tools as labs advance and grow.
3) How much does it cost?
It is important to think about cost when choosing your ELN. Your selected software should be affordable and cost effective to avoid it becoming a burden on your organization or department. Keep in mind: An ELN can help cut down on your lab’s annual budget by reducing paperwork and manual data entry tasks by up to 90 percent. Instead of spending their time manually entering information into spreadsheets or cross-analyzing data in incompatible softwares, scientists will have more time to focus on performing important research and product development.
4) Does it offer the right lab compliance?
ELN software will help your lab stay in compliance by helping it meet and manage necessary regulatory requirements. A good ELN can:
- streamline quality assurance and safety procedures,
- support GxP and ISO studies in a FDA 21 CFR part 11 compliant environment,
- enable electronic signatures to certify results, and
- provide an audit trail record of every user’s actions in your experiments.
To pick the best Electronic Lab Notebook, identify the compliance measures that apply to your lab and ensure your chosen ELN is able to respond to those needs.
5) Will my data be secure and encrypted?
Ensuring its data and information is safe is of paramount importance to any organization. Quality ELN software is designed to help keep your data secure through features like safe storage, password protection, data encryption, and user traceability. When choosing the right ELN for your lab, make sure it is equipped to protect you from:
- data loss
- data breach
- data tampering
ELNs and the future of lab work
Whether or not you’ve decided on the right software for your lab, one thing is clear: ELNs are here to stay. Technology Network reports how “[ELNs] will come to replace paper-based data recording systems in the Lab of the Future,” citing their ability to help meet targets in sustainability, data integrity and compliance as essential to today’s regulated lab.
The need for a good ELN first became obvious during the COVID-19 pandemic when lab workers worldwide looked to continue their research from remote locations. ELNs were able to support collaborative hybrid lab work by recording experiments and results, providing up-to-date data, and tracking completed and outstanding tasks. However, experts predict that the market for ELNs is set to continue growing even as more individuals return to the lab. New legislation introduced in places like the US, China, and the EU will require certain labs to make their data more freely and widely accessible, which will make ELNs and digitized data storage the only viable option for the future. These changes and more have made it essential to pick the best Electronic Lab Notebook for your lab.
Get your lab on track
At Pillar Science we are dedicated to helping teams conduct modern research; We empower researchers by offering accessible, state-of-the-art ecosystems that accelerate collaborative discoveries. Designed by scientists and developers, the Pillar Science ELN was made to respond to real life obstacles faced by lab workers every day.
Our user-friendly ELN safely stores and protects your data, ensures compliance with industry standards, and helps you stay on top of your tasks with its integrated project management.