In the last couple posts, I referred to the LabWare system as a LIMS and ELN, and the Thermo Fisher SampleManager system as a LIMS and LES. Are they really both a LIMS and something else? (LIMS – Laboratory Information Management System, ELN – Electronic Laboratory Notebook, LES – Laboratory Execution System)

My response: They ARE more than they AREN’T. Let me explain…

These days, we could almost put any title we want on most systems. Some software products are sold as different acronyms to different industries. In the case of these two particular products, the vendors have worked toward including features for both the types of products they want to provide. Here is a link in case you want to better understand the LabWare system.

Are They or Aren’t They?
If we were to drag out some original definition of all these terms, we would likely find that these products do provide whatever is listed in the descriptions. But to those of you who say that no system can be all things to all people, that is true and these two products are no exception. Also, to those of you who claim that an ELN only applies to research labs, then we might say that the LabWare system is not an ELN, after all; however, to me, “ELN” is a more general term as is the term “LIMS” and is a term that is too broad to apply to a specific area. Just as we have LIMS that are specific to an industry or a type of process, there can be ELN products that are meant for specific areas, as well.

Thus, considering that each company has expanded their features to meet the features we might expect in a quality-control-based ELN or LES, I would say that they’re probably justified in their use of the terms. For example, if you read what LabWare provides in their LIMS / ELN ( ), you can see that they have added features to their legacy LIMS that one might expect in such products. Additionally, with regard to Thermo’s SampleManager system, you will also see they’ve done something similar, where they have added features to their legacy system ( ). While they’ve gone about it in different ways and with different features, the overall idea is the same – take what you have an expand upon it.

Are These Products Right For Your LIMS, ELN or LES?
Start with a “no” on that. There is no product that meets everyone’s needs. Before you select a system, get your requirements together, compare systems based on the features that you need, as well as their suitability for your own needs, and go from there. Never use a product as the starting point for your search.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises
Read More About the LabWare LIMS / ELN

2 Thoughts to “LabWare LIMS / ELN and SampleManager LIMS / LES – Really?”

  1. I think users get glassy eyed from all these acronyms and just end up calling everything a LIMS. All of these systems have overlapping functionality and it pretty much all boils down to managing lab information (thus LIMS).

    I think everyone in the LIMS community says to start with your requirements. I have never seen any disagreement about that in any of the discussions on Linkedin. The disagreements have always been around the definition and scope of these acronyms. I personally say… just call it a LIMS and be done with it and then compare the various products against a set of user defined requirements. If that gets you a product that positions itself as an ELN, then great. If that gets you into a product that positions itself as a LIMS, then that is great too. I don’t think the user cares what the vendor wants to call it. It is a matter of what the product does and how it does it.

    I think what I have said is pretty much in line with what you were saying; just used a different point of view.

    1. Some users do care, actually. There are sometimes users whose upper management tells them they have to buy a <pick an acronym> and then that's what the user HAS to buy or it won't get funded. Strange, but true.

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