ELN LabWare LIMS


In yet another blog based on the search terms people used to find my blog, today I’m writing about “eln labware lims.” When I see this search, two separate thoughts come to mind: The person was looking to link an ELN with their LabWare LIMS; or, the person was interested in finding more information on the ELN features being provided by the LabWare LIMS.

Trends in LIMS and ELN

There are two schools of thought on how to provide ELN and LIMS capabilities into one laboratory. One model is the one that Thermo is following, where each product is specific to its task. They have a variety of LIMS that are built for a specific purpose and a partnership with Symyx to provide ELN features. This is all combined with a specific integration strategy.

The other school of thought is to extend products to add features. As such, we see LIMS products such as LabWare LIMS, StarLIMS and SQL*LIMS providing some variety of ELN features in order to stretch the LIMS to also do some of the ELN’s work. We also see ELN vendors such as IDBS and VelQuest providing LIMS-type features with their ELNs to stretch those products yet further.

However, it is still possible to have a different ELN and LIMS product even when talking about these “combination” products. As such, if the person who searched for “eln labware lims” is intending to implement an entirely separate ELN solution to integrate with their LabWare LIMS, this might be a good idea, depending on their approach and their needs.

What is Right for You

Although each strategy and/or product sounds like the one that will solve every problem, none of them is right for every situation. In fact, a single LIMS product cannot fulfill every LIMS need nor is every ELN product right for every lab notebook situation.

For example, an ELN meant for discovery work is not the same as the ones meant to enforce method execution. A LIMS targeted toward Drug Metabolism looks much different than one targeted toward Environmental solutions.

Bottom Line

If you secretly feel befuddled regarding what direction to take regarding buying these products. Here’s my advice: ignore the labels. Forget that they’re called “LIMS” or “ELN” or whatever label they are given. Determine what you need and look for that. If you find something that meets your needs, whatever it is called, that is the right product and strategy for you.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises
http://www.GeoMetrick.com/


2 responses on “ELN LabWare LIMS

  1. I fullysupport your thoughts here. To extend the line of thought I reached out on our Blog at http://blog.accelrys.com/2010/09/eln-lims-question/ and have the following addition to make:

    As the capabilities of laboratory software have begun to converge, the definitions of “LIMS” and “ELN” has indeed become very blurred. In fact, PharmaIQ emailed me the other day promoting a piece about whether SDMS will replace ELN. Given the alphabet soup of options available, Gloria is right. You have needs. Identify them and then see what vendor or product matches those needs, regardless of its three (or four) letter acronym.

    I’d add one caveat: that when you make your decision, you consider not just what is right for you, but for others around you, now and in the future. There’s a great discussion on LinkedIn around ELNs that explains why. Tools in the electronic lab ultimately have to interface with other apps and across departments. Yet it’s hard sometimes when you’re trying to solve an immediate, pressing problem to think broadly about how (or whether) the solution you choose will play with others.

    I can’t find the reference now, but in another LinkedIn ELN discussion, Michael Elliott pointed out that early LIMS adoption wasn’t strategic. Individual labs and project groups purchased the LIMS they liked from the vendor they liked—and the result was often disparate, disconnected systems that organizations are now working to consolidate. Can you really afford to repeat those LIMS-world mistakes, particularly now that there are so many solutions working within the electronic lab? You can avoid downstream consolidation and migration issues by thinking now about how many electronic systems you want to be supporting 5-10 years from now. Is it 1, 2, or 3… or more? Thinking longer-term can help you avoid point solutions tailored to an immediate need in favor of solutions that will scale for future needs and deployment.

  2. The systems, themselves, are not strategic. They are means to an end. Unfortunately, most of us are caught-up too much in our own world. Every year, we talk about new tools to make integration easier, but too little time on the initial system implementations making a successful integration more likely.

    Somewhere, I’d written about how siloed we all remain. Additionally, we remain too reliant on new tools and not enough on planning and analysis.

    Great points, Dominic! I’ll see you at next week’s Pharma IQ meeting, then.

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