In the last couple posts, I referred to the LabWare system as a LIMS and ELN, and the 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.
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 ( http://labware.com/en/p/Products/ELN-(Electronic-Laboratory-Notebook) ), 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 ( http://www.thermoscientific.com/content/dam/tfs/ATG/CMD/CMD%20Documents/LabExecutionSystem-2014.pdf ). 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.