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Accelrys Blog

24 Posts tagged with the notebook tag

As a newcomer to the Accelrys product marketing team, I've spent a great deal of time over the past few months learning more about our products and how customers use them. I noticed after going through this exercise that my “studies” kept going back to our Accelrys Notebook product. Why is that? Well, it's simple. Literally! Accelrys Notebook is a simple, easy to use product that even a newbie like me can understand its importance in transitioning to a digital laboratory.


But there's another reason that I found myself spending time digging into Notebook. That simplicity message resonates with our customers, and that response is what drives the growth of our product. Customer surveys and interviews have shown me that customers really value how simple it is to use Accelrys Notebook. Users and IT managers tell us that the product's ease of use and simple user interface quickly break down barriers for their lab people to use. This leads to faster adoption for companies that have a competitive need to move their laboratory out of paper notebooks and in to a digital, paperless world. Faster adoption means that companies can quickly expand Notebook to more people and more sites for their global operations, while avoiding headaches for the people who set up and manage their company's IT infrastructure. This helps the business in so many ways, as digital labs can save time sharing and searching for information that used to be stored on paper and searched by hand. It also helps in speeding up the product development process, as sharing, collaboration and digital signatures for lab work all lead to faster patent processes that are necessitated by recent US legislation.


So, "simple" and "easy to use" sounds great. But we are seeing that these words have real meaning for our customers. Faster adoption and faster deployment means real time and money saved by our customers. Below are some of the quotes we’ve received in surveys from customers who are using our product:


-“It used to take me 20 minutes to prepare my paper notebook and now it takes me 2 seconds…literally.”

-“I cannot overstate how impressed I am with this ELN product…it is reducing my documentation time by 75% or more.”

-“It used to take me 2 hours to write, print and sign every piece of paper just for one page I can now complete the whole experiment in 7 minutes!”


Customers are seeing real value to using Accelrys Notebook. And that value grows as companies quickly deploy our product to more users and more of their global sites. We have helped companies roll out Notebook from a pilot project to hundreds of users within just 2 months. The simplicity of the product and the ease of which it can be installed and quickly expanded ensure that all areas of a business – users, IT managers and business decision makers – can quickly see the value of Accelrys Notebook in their organizations.




With our latest Accelrys Notebook 5.0 software release, we've added powerful new capabilities with the integration into our Accelrys Enterprise Platform and Pipeline Pilot. So users can now pull experiment data from other sources - LIMS, instruments, Excel, other scientific tools, even inventory management - while working directly from the Accelrys Notebook. This makes the digital lab more powerful and has the potential to save additional time for labs that typically have to spend time searching through paper notebooks for old experimental data, or duplicate efforts because their existing data management systems are not compatible.


But the best part of this message is that even though we've made Notebook even more powerful, we've kept the cornerstone of our product - simple, easy to use interface - intact. We want people to be more productive with Notebook, and we want them to tap into the power of our Accelrys Enterprise Platform. But we won't sacrifice ease of use, Because we know that is what drives further usage and adoption, and keeps our customers happy.


If you'd like to learn more about Accelrys Notebook, click the link and you'll find case studies and webinars from companies who have experienced the value of moving to a digital lab through Accelrys Notebook. These resources will show how Notebook can help your company's product development efforts.


Also, we have an upcoming webinar on March 6 that provides the basics on Accelrys Notebook. Clink on the link and you will find more information and a path to register for our session entitled, “Accelrys Notebook 5.0 Helps Science-Driven Organizations Transition to Digital Labs.” I think you'll learn what I've learned: Accelrys Notebook is a powerful, yet easy-to-use electronic lab notebook that will save you time, money and reduce the pain of transitioning to a paperless lab.

482 Views Permalink Categories: Electronic Lab Notebook Tags: pipeline_pilot, integration, notebook, eln, lims, platform, lab, 5.0

Today Accelrys announces the launch of ScienceCloud. I have not been this excited about a product launch in years -- fifteen years to be exact!  Back then, life science research was struggling with large volumes of disparate scientific data and no way to automate its access, processing and analysis. Our response was the industry changing software, Pipeline Pilot.   Fifteen years later, we are introducing what I believe will be another game changer: ScienceCloud.


Today the life science industry is in the midst of significant change, leading to even greater challenges. Biopharma is radically reinventing itself by embracing globalization, looking for innovation from outside partners, and focusing on operational excellence (read: cost pressure). Externalized collaborative research is transforming drug discovery. Organizations are expanding relationships beyond traditional boundaries and creating flexible networks of researchers―some in-house, others with industry and academic partners and contract research organizations (CROs).


These networks are increasing in size and complexity, combining numerous partners with diverse project objectives. Externalized drug discovery introduces substantial data and project management challenges. How do you secure the IP of different parties and enable networked partners to share project data in real time? How do you ensure that each team member can only access what he/she is authorized to see? How do you quickly spin up and down dynamic collaborations in today’s fast-changing project landscape? How do you keep team members informed of the progress each partner is making?


ScienceCloud was created to address these challenges. It is an innovative, cloud-based information management and collaboration workspace designed to support globally networked drug R&D. A cloud-based solution provides business agility that’s simply not possible with on-premises and IT-supported infrastructure. You can stand up a project partnership with minimal IT support quickly and easily. You can expose, via the web, those applications needed by particular partners to participate in specific scientific workflows. Finally, the cloud promises to reduce the overall cost of software usage, just as it has in other major industries.


ScienceCloud provides an integrated suite of project-centered applications which are available to all team members wherever they are, at any time. ScienceCloud leverages social communication to connect teams―empowering researchers to capture and search user and application feeds, post from internal/external systems and share crowd knowledge.


With the flexible, multi-disciplinary Notebook, you can capture, access and share experimental information. Pipeline Pilot is also in ScienceCloud, making it possible for you to create and manage scientific protocols and implement standard business rules for partners. You can integrate on-premise systems with ScienceCloud’s web APIs so that data is exchanged easily between on-premise and the cloud, facilitating staged migration to the cloud. ScienceCloud is mobile enabled, and lets you easily define and share mobile tasks across your team. ScienceCloud Exchange is a web portal, similar to an App Store, where you can publish and share Pipeline Pilot protocols useful to the research community.  And, these are just some of the first ScienceCloud capabilities - more are in store.


I think this all adds up to an exciting next 15 years! Join us again.


To learn more about ScienceCloud, please visit You can also register for the complimentary webinar entitled “ScienceCloud, a cloud solution for externalized, collaborative R&D,” scheduled for Tuesday, February 18, 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM PST.

708 Views Permalink Categories: Executive Insights, Trend Watch, Electronic Lab Notebook, News from Accelrys Tags: pipeline_pilot, notebook, eln, cloud, sciencecloud, drug_discovery

The trend towards Big Pharma dismantling their R&D organizations and outsourcing drug discovery and development instead is clear. A dynamic mix of new smaller players will now take over the innovative experimental workflows and deliver results to larger sponsoring organizations that will primarily focus on clinical trials and marketing. However, this raises some concerns regarding both patenting and quality issues, as well as efficiency. Those of us who have experienced Big Pharma from the inside can easily see that small innovators could outperform the dinosaurs because of their greater flexibility, agility and speed. What is more worrying is that some of these gains are sometimes made at the expense of quality. Few small organizations actually have the infrastructure in place to properly store, manage and retrieve their research data in a way that fulfills the requirements of Big Pharma.


There is another twist. Given improvements in today’s technology, small players can now access informatics systems that previously were too big, complex and expensive for them to consider. This not only means they can meet their customers’ quality standards; they can also improve their own internal efficiency. Keeping track of assay data in relational databases is actually a lot smarter than using an Excel spreadsheet sent via e-mail. Recording all experimental details in electronic lab notebooks enables quick shipping of results to research partners, small or large.


While many large pharma companies have finally implemented ELNs and data warehouses, a surprisingly large portion still have not. It is not difficult to understand why. Any infrastructure change is difficult in a large organization, and the level of detail in research informatics systems can be overwhelming. This provides an opportunity for small biotechs and CROs. They could actually become leaders in their areas, not just by providing high quality results to their customers but also by becoming more competitive through the use of next-generation informatics solutions and lab automation. The cloud-based informatics systems now available are making this a reality at a low cost.


We recently created a microsite dedicated to Enhancing the Productivity of Externalized Research Networks, where we share some shocking industry stats and address some of the challenges these trends are presenting. Are you facing any of these challenges? I'd welcome any insight into how your organization is managing this growing trend of externalized research.

709 Views 0 References Permalink Categories: Electronic Lab Notebook, Cheminformatics, Trend Watch Tags: notebook, eln, ilabber, contur, cloud, collaboration, externalization, heos

Last week the world changed. Well at least the United States Centric part of the world changed, and that's quite a fiscally significant part. What the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act changed was the premise behind US Patenting regulations and rules. Sure this change has been in the works since last September, but now the change is law, so its now a real situation and not just an academic exercise. Simply put the USA moved from a constitutionally enshrined position of, who invented a product first legal basis, to a much simpler and more closely aligned to the rest of the world's approach which is first to file:


What this means is that all of the focus on dates and proving that one individual had an idea first, and the consequent need to record, date stamp, time stamp, ownership and access rights, becomes less critical. What replaces it, is to me the really interesting thing. If you think about the first to file; i.e. the approach that whomever gets to the patent office first with their paperwork wins, then speed, agility and information performance become significant factors. This is a big change and is clearly having an effect on both the corporate psyche and organization's behavior and plans. Historically, a patent granted in the U.S. would have gone to the first to invent the claimed subject matter. Where separate inventors were working on similar inventions at the same time, the "first-to-invent" system could sometimes result in interference proceedings at the USPTO to determine who was the first to come up with the claimed invention.


Under the new USA rules as a"first-to-file" country, the novelty provision of the Patent Act will change to create an absolute bar to patentability if the claimed invention of a patent application was "patented, described in a printed publication, or in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public" anywhere in the world before the patent application’s effective filing date. This is a major transformation in at least two respects:


  • First, with respect to activities outside the U.S., the law before the change, only limited as a bar to patentability foreign patents and printed publications. Other activities, such as public use, sale or other "public availability" outside of the U.S. were not considered. After the Act, that will no longer hold true.
  • Second, because the law before the change permitted applicants in some situations to prove that they came up with their inventions before the effective date of a cited patent or printed publication, there was recourse if another entity independently developed the same invention after you, but beat you to the USPTO with a patent application. As of March 16, 2013, what will matter is when you filed your patent application, and not when you came up with your invention.



So now this drives the need for enhanced and significantly upgraded competitive intelligence analysis and also document production. The fomer is driven by the change in provision from externally patenetable publications to the test of "public availability" of information. In this case there is now a clear need to be aware of what, how, why and where other companies are working on, inventing and producing products, since availability could invalidate a corporate patent that has had a significant amount of research behind it. Secondly, there is the document production arms race. Why such a term? Well just think about it, say a corporation had been working for a number of years on a breakthrough technology. They had spent significant money on the work only to see a competitor scoop them for the patent and the whole opportuity and area because they are more agile and have better informatics processes.


The main and usual response to this is to then file a series of defensive or encircling patents around the original domain of intellectual property. This then becomes a document production exercise. The corporation will seek to retrieve all data, information and for example spectra, pertinent and relvent to the filing, and as quickly as possible generate the legal document, refine and collaborate on it and then parse the whole system through their legal process to the patent office.



To be clear, most companies outside the pharmaceutical space do not have a sufficient innovation, scientific, information management process and digital backbone to do this today. Hence the problem. These companies have invested much money, due to the business need in their development and production or supplychain processes. However, they have not invested in the same processes and tools i.e. informatics capabilities for research, due to the highly convoluted, complex and non simple data types. This is why the concept of scientific information life cycle management (SILM) has occured and is growing. Solutions that manage the scientific lifecycle like a data source agnostic platform to connect disparate workflows and tools, an easy-to-use scientific electronic laboratory journal and notebook, and specialised process-centric laboratory execution and management systems are needed even more in light of the recent Act.



So again, the world has changed, but in change are seeds of new and exciting growth and technical challenges. What are your thoughts on the opportunities and challenges ahead?


432 Views 0 References Permalink Categories: Trend Watch, Electronic Lab Notebook, Cheminformatics, Materials Informatics, Bioinformatics, Data Mining & Knowledge Discovery, The IT Perspective, News from Accelrys, Lab Operations & Workflows, Executive Insights Tags: notebook, innovation, eln, patent, ip, first_to_file

Vici (I conquered): Today scientists are still using the same technology for recording and sharing information that the Romans used 2000 years ago, but now in advanced sophisticated labs and manufacturing floors. Really…. Think about it! Paper lab notebooks, paper binders and logbooks are still common, as is the need for human intervention to transfer data beyond a single department or disciplinary group. On the manufacturing floor, formulation recipes and SOPs are often paper-based as well, with operators recording the batch record data manually and then re-keying the record into other systems.


While electronic point solutions exist to carry part of the journey towards commercialization, there are still critical gaps in the exchange and flow of information and tasks, driven by the fact that vendors today have typically served specific areas in the process and product journey to commercialization. Subsequently constructing a straight path has been impeded by differences in technology, standards, data structure and business operations.


With the acquisition of VelQuest by Accelrys, the subsequent integration of the combined portfolios and the release this week of the new Accelrys Process Management and Compliance Suite there is a new informatics path from lab to commercialization. This path focuses on removing the existing paper inefficiencies along the journey.


Paper based tasks, information and knowledge previously condemned to paper graveyards can now be channeled through a single electronic suite to drive operational excellence across the product lifecycle. Process development, formulation and method development cycles can be accelerated by removing paper-based inefficiencies, while access to data provides improved insight into products and process for a “straight-first-time” approach, meanwhile access to information supports the right decisions on progressing the journey of the product.


With rapidly developed methods, process and formulations the Accelrys Process Management and Compliance Suite enables information to be rapidly transferred to a globally distributed team for highly compliant and efficient execution. On the operational floor of QA/QC labs or manufacturing environments, analysts, technicians and engineers are enabled with an electronic environment to rapidly select, follow, document, report and review processes.


At an operations level, a single suite enables executive level insight. Access to information across the lab-to-plant continuum through to commercialization provides insight into operational efficiencies, compliance issues and process improvements that can result in driving higher quality products to market, faster and at lower cost….. Vici

577 Views 0 References Permalink Categories: Trend Watch, Data Mining & Knowledge Discovery, News from Accelrys, Electronic Lab Notebook, The IT Perspective, Lab Operations & Workflows Tags: process, notebook, eln, mes, validation, management, smartlab, les, life, compliance, ebr, cycle

Just over two years ago Accelrys (ACCL) and Symyx (SMMX) combined, turning two of the biggest pure-play scientific software companies into the Accelrys we all know today. Over this time, champions have been excited by the joint opportunity, just as naysayers have been concerned by the challenges of merging. As many of our life science customers can testify first hand, combining two large companies and two sets of processes does present a raft of challenges.


So where are we? Speaking from someone who transitioned through with Symyx Notebook from the Symyx side, it’s been a remarkable journey creating new insights and opportunities that have led to significant advancements of the Symyx Notebook offering. In the process we have also executed on our strategy to support customers wanting a low-cost paper notebook replacement by acquiring Contur iLabber; in the last 15 months this acquisition has exceeded expectations. In addition, Accelrys has strategically expanded its portfolio and added another complement to Symyx Notebook with the acquisition of VelQuest to support lab execution in QA and QC operations. As a result of these acquisitions, Accelrys now offers a suite of capabilities supporting ideas from lab to commercialization – or put another way – SILM (Scientific Innovation Lifecycle Management).


For the naysayers concerned with possible impacts on productivity after the merger of Symyx and Accelrys, I’m glad to say we have proven them wrong. I reflect back on a whirlwind of progress. In the last two years we have had six significant releases of Symyx Notebook by Accelrys, two of which provided major leaps in capabilities to integrate the Accelrys Enterprise Platform. These integrations delivered unique extensibility enabling customers to rapidly and cost effectively extend Symyx Notebook and provide industry-leading analytics and reporting of information and knowledge captured within the Symyx Notebook environment. Furthermore, all six releases were delivered on time reflecting a smooth transition within R&D operations.


To top it off this week, we have the seventh release of Symyx Notebook by Accelrys in just over two years adding new, major advancements in multi-dimensional spreadsheets and analytical capabilities and making Symyx Notebook by Accelrys a “formidable player” in the biology ELN market (to quote one analyst).


So what’s next?

Naturally, we’re excited by the opportunities resulting from our acquisition of VelQuest. For many years, Symyx Notebook has been the leading ELN in the Developmentspace, supporting Process, Formulation and Analytical scientists in selecting, developing, optimizing and validating processes for main-stream execution. Prior to our acquisition of VelQuest, many of our customers had already foreseen and were supporting our vision for integrating the VelQuest Lab Execution System with Symyx Notebook. Along with us, they recognized the value of enabling scientists in early development to create new processes that could rapidly and consistently be consumed for “right-first-time” QA/QC execution.


Today as we plan our R&D roadmap and the next whirlwind of activity, we look forward to continuing integration between our complementary product lines, from leveraging the Accelrys Enterprise Platform with VelQuest products in QA/QC labs to adding VelQuest’s library of analytical methods, validated instrument connections, inventory management, metrology and environmental monitoring capabilities to Symyx Notebook.


Your thoughts and comments on where we go next are always welcome…..

671 Views 0 References Permalink Categories: Electronic Lab Notebook, The IT Perspective, Data Mining & Knowledge Discovery, Cheminformatics, Lab Operations & Workflows, Executive Insights Tags: notebook, eln, symyx, platform, ilabber, silm, smartlab, velquest

When asked to approach and to break down the challenge of drug development and manufacturing into “byte size” pieces Janssen, a Pharmaceutical Company of Johnson and Johnson, took a novel approach that involved analogy to cake recipes. Critical in the manufacture of drugs is to be able to produce the exact same, high quality product from multiple manufacturing sites in the world.


The same challenge arises getting cakes to market. Part of Starbucks success is no matter where in the world you go you can virtually guarantee you can get the same quality of service and products. The coffee always tastes the same, it’s served at the perfect temperature and the cakes follow suite…. We have to then ask “How can you develop and communicate the recipe (ingredients and process) for high quality success every time no matter where you are in the world to the “shop floor”. Then ask the question- how can we improve the process by looking at all the results across all our outlets. Starbucks obviously cracked it but are they using the same recipe as Janssen?




For Janssen the secret is to look at the recipe and leverage ISA-88 standards in an electronic environment. Typically used for batch process control and describing equipment and procedures in manufacturing, Janssen applied the use of the standards from the earliest stage of the recipe concept in drug development right through to the manufacturing floor. By adopting common terms and standards across the lab-to-plant continuum, not only is information rapidly transferable, it’s consistent, non-ambiguous and the associated quality testing results can be compared across all sources from glass, pilot and manufacturing plants for continuous insight and improvement for higher quality drugs every time.


Sitting back on the analysis I now see how I am irrationally attached to coffee….perhaps coffee is a drug? Something to discuss over another coffee....

739 Views 0 References Permalink Categories: The IT Perspective, Electronic Lab Notebook, Lab Operations & Workflows, Data Mining & Knowledge Discovery Tags: notebook, eln, formulation, s88, recipe, isa

QbD is fundamentally about how to build quality into a process to design and make a product versus trying to test the quality into a product. The ideation of the process and the final manufactured product starts early in development with process engineering and formulation. In order to clearly understand the “design space” information about the process, the product needs to be captured and made available to enable scientists to understand and determine the critical quality attributes that effect a product. Scientific informatics is thus fundamental in supporting QbD and more specifically, an ELN that provides the context of who did what, why and when around a product design and process.


ELNs are now playing a key role in early to late development and thus are an integral part of the informatics life cycle that supports QbD. The new evolution of the ELN to be able to create and capture workflows, as well as new data access and analysis, now supports pharma development to deploy and better support an informatics environment to deliver QbD. If you’re interested I’d highly recommend reading the new QbD article just published by Accelrys that discusses the role of informatics in support of QbD and specifically the role of the ELN.


Click the link to read the new white paper--and do, by all means, let me know what you think!

709 Views 0 References Permalink Categories: Data Mining & Knowledge Discovery, Cheminformatics, Electronic Lab Notebook, Lab Operations & Workflows, Executive Insights Tags: process, notebook, eln, formulation, analytical, qbd, cmc, quality

It was interesting to read the following research report findings from Thompson Reuters:


Academic pharma patents more than trebling, from 602 in 2005 to 2025 in 2010”.


"This seems to show that [industry] is patenting more than ever in efforts to protect its intellectual property developments, but also academia is waking up to the need to protect itself, and raise its ability to generate revenue streams," the report claims. IP and Pharma funding is now becoming a significant source of funding for academia and especially important in light of drying government and research body grants. Recent changes for US patent laws to a 'first to file' process from a 'first to invent', funding paucity from government and the transient nature of academic research staff, mean that it is now more important than ever to protect, keep safe and prevent IP related to future patents from “wandering”.


Today’s# ELN is# now ideally suited for academic deployment. Web based, zero installation, low cost of ownership, ease of use and little reliance on IT resources now enables any university or group of universities to embrace an informatics infrastructure to capture and protect IP. Today we see universities being able to deploy ELNs to over 5000 users.


An ELN provides a secure environment that can be rapidly deployed to protect research information and also provides a means to trace and defend research “secrets” straying into other institutions as a result of a migrant work force. From a competitive funding perspective, universities that have embraced an informatics infrastructure that better manages and protects research information in a highly transferable electronic format with Pharma partners are arguably more likely to receive research funding.


So what's holding up academia from joining the other 154 thousand estimated ELN users in the world?

1,088 Views 0 References Permalink Categories: Data Mining & Knowledge Discovery, Cheminformatics, Bioinformatics, Electronic Lab Notebook Tags: notebook, eln, patent, web, academia, ilabber, pharma, academic_research

When we think about going electronic from our paper notebooks we often think about just replacing the paper document process. Initially, ELN’s evolved as a paper on glass replacement, but have in the last 10 years gone through a successive evolution to well beyond a document replacement. Industry talks about 5th generation ELNs that define and create a new role for the ELN in today’s labs. Driving this change is a need for simplicity, efficiency, centralization and fewer resources to meet the growing needs of globalization and diminishing budgets. As a result, we are seeing a trend where LIMS (Laboratory Information Management Systems) capabilities and ELN capabilities are merging as scientists want a single system to manage and orchestrate their experiment and sample processing.


Traditionally, scientists looked for ELNs to capture who did what, how, why and when. In other words, the day-to-day unstructured activities, thoughts and processes.  Meanwhile, LIMS systems captured the routine structured information streaming from software and instruments. The question, and the reality, is why do we need the 2 systems for managing lab data? It’s for this reason you are seeing LIMS vendors adding ELN capabilities and ELN vendors adding LIMS capabilities. Today, the latest Accelrys ELN not only replaces the paper document for unstructured information, but extends the role of the notebook. Now capable of storing data entered in a notebook section in a structured format, the ELN allows experiment and sample parameters to be stored and re-accessed with reporting and analysis tools.


To see some examples of what’s now possible with 5th generation ELNs, check out the new videos that demonstrate how new data management, analysis and reporting capabilities change the role of the ELN. The first video is using the Thermo Fisher Envision tool to analyze and process spectra within the Notebook, the second video shows how managers and PI’s in the Notebook can see dashboards of experiment and sample progress and, the third is about how every day scientists can query and access their information from across experiments. All capabilities that redefine the role of the ELN in the lab to help with enterprise lab management.


In conclusion, while the ELN will not replace all LIMS and LIMS with added document capabilities will not replace all ELNs, we are seeing a convergence of capabilities. For the scientist, they will see the benefits of these vendor investments by being able to execute day-to-day lab operations with fewer software interfaces and centralized environments.


So should we be calling the 5th generation ELNs, "ELNLIMS", or "ELMS" – Electronic Lab Management System? What are your thoughts? Is ELN now a confusing name for the newer generation ELNs focused on a convergent lab?

940 Views 0 References Permalink Categories: The IT Perspective, Lab Operations & Workflows, Bioinformatics, Electronic Lab Notebook, Data Mining & Knowledge Discovery, Scientific Databases, Cheminformatics Tags: pipeline, pilot, data, notebook, eln, symyx, report, mining, dashboards

Transferring paper documentation to a software application is only part of the solution going electronic. Scientists are used to sharing SOPs, paper binders, log books and paper notebooks physically. Labs using paper had well-entrenched physical processes for assigning tasks, then tracking and sharing the insights.  A log book next to an instrument, an SOP on a fume hood, a paper binder of the latest analytic protocols next to the HPLC machine, a notebook of common recipes in the store room or tickets for managing samples. Now move the paper information electronically with an ELN and there’s a great opportunity for collaboration, but a potential risk that scientists get lost in the electronic ethos collaborating with colleagues.



Typically, the innovative scientist uses tools at hand to invent and replace physical processes with electronic process. An explosion of e-mails, sharepoint portals, Excel sheets and shared directories become the norm for tracking and communicating scientist requests and findings. While low cost and resourceful, these homo sapien orchestrated systems are prone to breakdowns and delays, with tasks and information going unchecked and astray.


So what’s the answer? It obviously has to be electronic and importantly needs to work in context to the scientists workflow where they’re orchestrating their work i.e. the Electronic Notebook. The new generation ELNs have now caught on to the added opportunity to drive improved collaboration by delivering integrated task request and management systems within the ELN. The new work request modules enabling collaboration can be configured in 2 ways: fixed workflows for defined tasks and processes or, they can provide the scientist with total flexibility to create ad hoc tasks and then track these tasks. Now from within their ELN scientists can create a task, assign the task to another scientist, associate an experiment or set of samples, and track the task. Those being assigned tasks, when they open their notebooks, will instantly see what’s to do. Once processed, the requested information is all tracked back and linked to the original experiment or sample request. 


Care to see how it's done?

1,076 Views 0 References Permalink Categories: Lab Operations & Workflows, Cheminformatics, Bioinformatics, Electronic Lab Notebook, The IT Perspective Tags: workflow, notebook, eln, collaboration, work, request

When the whole world is going electronic why are many of us still using paper notebooks? Really! When electronic phones came along we jumped from Bakerlite analogue phones to digital in a decade, when mobile phones came along it took another decade, and likewise when smart phones came around it took a decade to move. ELNs have now been in use for over 10 years. So why hasn’t the paper notebook gone the way of the Dodo?


When you look at the reality of paper notebooks I find it surprising that only 154K scientists of the one to two billion scientists globally today have an ELN and the growth is only 25% per year. After all, paper notebooks can’t be shared easily, impossible to search, slow to complete and are an incredibly inefficient scrapbooking exercises. Like the bakerlite phone and the dodo it’s only a matter of time before the extinction of paper.

  paper science.jpg

So what’s holding up the rest of the scientific community? Is it just education about ELNs? Is it fear of change to electronic? Is it that we don’t feel the right ELN is available to support our science? Is it that scientist’s feel they don’t have the resources to deploy, manage and pay for an ELN? Or do people feel there is little value in swapping out paper? If it is any of the above I’d argue that these points are moot now.


Industry reports from Atrium Research in 2011 show an instant 20% accepted productivity gain over paper processes. Today in 60 seconds you can own and be entering data in an ELN whether it’s a Mac or PC. There’s no installation, no hardware, no IT resources and little training required. Every type of scientists and industry is adopting an ELN and being successful with communities from five to thousands of users. ELNs are also being deployed across the enterprise to deliver scientific productivity for every kind of scientist.


Help us out. Why aren’t you moving if you haven't already? How can the ELN software vendors make the paper notebook at your lab a dodo?

1,287 Views 0 References Permalink Categories: Cheminformatics, Lab Operations & Workflows, The IT Perspective, Electronic Lab Notebook, Bioinformatics Tags: chemistry, biology, notebook, eln, ip

What a load of RFI! Can we just show you the tire swing instead?


I’ll explain…. It’s common practice for companies adopting an ELN to create a Request For Information (RFI) that is sent to multiple ELN vendors requesting information including capabilities, licensing and cost. Having narrowed to 2-4 ELN vendors, the Request for Proposal (RFP) is then sent specifying detailed requirements--and I mean detailed, really detailed. In the course of responding to RFIs and RFPs, I have seen RFPs of over 50 pages to 200+ pages.  All around this is a huge effort for both requestors and vendors alike. Is there a way we can mutually shorten the process and save time for everyone? I’d like to propose an idea….


For the requester, the RFI and RFP process is a huge effort which drags the ELN selection process out, resulting in cycle times from 3 months to 3 years. With over 35 ELN vendors out there, the sheer volume of vendors is a hurdle. The effort in bringing all the stakeholders and gathering the requests sucks time and resources.  Not only that, there is feature creep so that by the time the RFI is formulated, few can see the wood for the trees. Furthermore, as requirements are subject to interpretation and semantics; here’s the tire swing analogy:  Ask multiple different people to write requirements for a tire swing, then have someone interpret the written requirements. The result will be a lot of variation and nothing like you had envisioned. Not unlike when Henry Ford was famously quoted to have said that if you asked someone what they wanted, they would have asked for a faster horse.


From the vendors perspective, upon receiving the RFI or RFP, they want to respond in the best possible light to get selected. Since requests are subject to their interpretation, this pretty much guarantees that most requestors, when they get RFP responses back, have trouble selecting a vendor and are overwhelmed by both the amount of information as well as, a rational way to compare it. At the same time, customers tell me that rarely is the decision made at the RFI or RFP stage, but more commonly at the demonstration or the evaluation stage and usually it’s the scientist who will experience the ELN every day that will make the final decision.


While I recognize that RFIs and RFPs may be a mandatory process in some organizations, I have some ideas I would like to share to accelerate the process and probably get a better result. I believe there is a way to re-architect the process, saving everyone a lot of time and still achieve the desired outcome.  Here’s how. Create a strategy for what you want your ELN to achieve and set the goals to achieve that strategy. Then use the internet, LinkedIn, Blogs and research from companies like Atrium Research to narrow down the vendors you will send use cases to. Unless you are after a niche ELN or have something you feel is very specific there are only 3 main market leading ELN providers so starting there can shorten the selection process considerably. In this step you avoid the RFI and a process that can take months becomes weeks at the most.


Next, is there a way to avoid the RFP? Based on your strategy and goals collect the use cases from the scientists, power users and IT that will meet your goals. Then hand these to the vendors with the request “Show me your Swing!” The point here is to avoid lengthy documentation and get to the main decision point for selecting the ELN- the evaluation or demonstration. Let the scientists experience the ELN.  This process also has some advantages apart from speed and the fact a vendor can clearly understand what the scientist’s need to accomplish. You are most likely to see more out of the box capabilities that will mean a lower cost of ownership but also you may be enlightened by new and novel ways to achieve your goals that vendors have learnt from other engagements.



I know some may be thinking, “that sounds great but my organization insists on RFI and RFPs”. I suggest a reflection on the relative value and the relative effort put in for each step of the process. In other words “what’s good enough” to satisfy internal process and check the RFI and RFP box, then focus on online research and getting the use cases to the right ELN vendors as the main effort to facilitate you decisions. You will find that there is a wealth of quality information available via online resources.


Then, in the final selection process leverage the vendors service team to get a full understanding of cost of ownership. Understand what is configuration versus customization that adds short and long-term costs and introduces upgrade risks. Also understand the effort it will take to change, how long will it take to create and deploy  new sections and what resources area available to assist. This latter part of the selection process is essential if you want to avoid surprises and delays later on.


Thoughts? I’d welcome other suggestions for how this process can be accelerated and save time for all involved.

1,125 Views 0 References Permalink Categories: Cheminformatics, Lab Operations & Workflows, Electronic Lab Notebook, The IT Perspective Tags: notebook, eln, symyx, rfp, rfi

Is Academia ready for ELNs?

Posted by Dominic.John Aug 26, 2011

Or put another way--are ELNs ready for Academia? Academia in the past has viewed ELNs as a tool for commercial scientific research and development pointing out complexity, cost and perceived value being barriers to adoption. However, several changes in the industry and academia are driving large ELN adoption. The first and most fundamental change is that vendors are now delivering low cost ELNs that are easy to use, easy to deploy and require little infrastructure.


A case in point is the newly acquired iLabber ELN from Contur that Accelrys recently purchased. iLabber is one of the fastest adopted ELN products in the world. There’s a free personal edition, and you can sign up for a free team edition trial and be running in seconds with a zero footprint Windows and Mac compatible web client, all hosted in the cloud for a low monthly fee. The experience is outstanding. See for yourself at-  


According to the iLabber developers the ELN has been developed on 3 main goals:  They’ll tell you, ease-of-use, ease-of-use and ease-of-use…and they keep a straight face while masticating some Swedish snus between their gums. Evidence of this is that standard training is 1 hour for scientists and 30 minutes for admin. But delivering ease-of-use means also ease-of-access, ease-of-administration and ease-of-deployment--all critical qualities needed to enable academia to deploy and utilize an ELN.


Other changes driving academics to adopt ELNs include economic pressures, distributed research groups and industry funding. With grants becoming harder to attain and fewer, there’s pressure to make the research pennies go further and show higher returns. The new ELNs like iLabber provide a central environment for research groups and academic departments to immediately adopt a collaborative data management environment. Experiment information can be captured, searched and shared electronically within and between sites. Any researcher can see what has been done before, learn and re-use. The result is less experimental repeats, reduced experiment failures and less re-invention allowing grants to go further. Furthermore, brain drain is a common problem with a very transient population of postgraduates, post-doctorate’s, RA’s, PI’s and professors. With an ELN there is a continuity of knowledge that can be rapidly searched, easily read and picked up by current or new academic members. The result is that grants go further, research groups are more productive and the groups get better recognition as a centre of research excellence for further grant awards.


The sources of academic funding are shifting more and more to industry. Commerce is now using academia as an agile and low risk strategy for research ideation and innovation. But with commercial funding comes pressure to adopt commercial infrastructure to protect IP and preserve and transition knowledge to the funding partner. An ELN gives Academia an immediate electronic infrastructure to support industry funding and relationships. In the process of adoption, an ELN also provides a competitive advantage for industry dollars when compared to sites without a data capture environment like an ELN.


Finally, it is more and more common for PIs (Principle Investigators) to be coordinating research across multiple geographically distributed research groups. Traditional paper-based notebooks provide a significant barrier to efficient project management, not to mention, information exchange. Meanwhile, an ELN in the Cloud provides PIs with the ability in real-time, from anywhere in the world, to review, provide feedback, or sign off research being documented in the ELN. For new staff or groups joining a project from anywhere in the world, they can gain instant access to an ELN, thanks to the availability of “elastic” cloud ELNs, and can start leveraging the ELN and the group knowledge within.


So is academia ready? Yes! Is the ELN ready for academia? Yes!  Still skeptical? Check out the testimonies, or try it yourself


….and if you don’t want to try some software why not try some Snus..

797 Views 0 References Permalink Categories: Electronic Lab Notebook, Cheminformatics, Lab Operations & Workflows, Bioinformatics, Data Mining & Knowledge Discovery Tags: notebook, eln, electronic, academic, academia, pi, ilabber, contur

We often wonder why the regulatory rules are so stringent for pharmaceuticals. At the end of the day the primary goal is to protect the patient. Today, I read an article that defied belief. A contract research and development organization was caught modifying documents and samples!  There are not only implications for patients who may receive potentially unsafe products but those pharma and biotech companies that have invested may have to re-file, even fail or enter class action law suits in extreme cases. For their financial investors this could send share prices through the floor.


To quote the article “Specifically, in at least 1,900 instances between April 2005 and June 2009, laboratory technicians identified as conducting certain studies were not actually present at [Company Not to be Named by Accelrys] facilities at that time, the FDA said in its May report”


I can't help but wonder if the scientists were still using paper lab notebooks. After all, paper has always been the very foundation of the forger's trade. Moving to an electronic environment documenting samples, experiment ownership and providing data traceability along with not just electronic signatures, but full electronic audit trails, makes falsifying information that much harder.


In the land of paper processes and paper documents anyone with pen and paper can make some subtle changes or create documents and samples at a later date with ease. With an ELN this becomes near impossible to do and importantly, hide, unless the whole company is in on the deal. Falsifying data within an ELN is near impossible. You need to be a scientist, a database wizard and be an expert in IT systems that have been designed to protect billions of dollars from fraudulent activities, for instance, in financial institutions.


I see news like this not only accelerating the use of ELNs, but also resulting in contracting organizations mandating 3rd parties to use more robust and electronic methods to document their day-to-day experiments, instead of a paper based process. In addition, I see that contract research and development companies can gain competitive advantage by demonstrating that they have electronic systems that protect their partners from fraudulent activities that can have massive financial and liability implications.


What do you think?

709 Views 0 References Permalink Categories: Executive Insights, Lab Operations & Workflows, Bioinformatics, Electronic Lab Notebook, Cheminformatics, The IT Perspective, Data Mining & Knowledge Discovery Tags: data, notebook, eln, fda, samples, faked
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