One-Size Fits All; I don’t think so

The pharmaceutical industry has historically identified ‘the best” ELN vendor and then force-fit that solution across all organization functions.  There were practical reasons for this practice:

  • Single system to implement/manage/validate.
  • Leverage the relationship with a single software vendor
  • Common knowledge of application allows for easy migration of employees within company
  • One organizational data source to facilitate data mining

However, organizations have also discovered that there are significant costs with the one size fits all approach:

  • Coordination amongst various groups within company – whose priorities matter most?
  • How can we squeeze everyone’s requirements into a single application?
  • Time and cost to customize.
  • Scientist dissatisfaction.
  • Performance?

Let’s face it, although Electronic Laboratory Notebooks are considered general purpose tools, each has its own strengths and weakness.  The scientific community is VERY diverse; think Biology, Small Molecule, Inhaled, Dermal. Another variant are the phases. Just consider the differences between research, development, and manufacture.  ELN designers cannot possibly be experts in each of these areas and instead focus and design for specific communities.  For example, forcing a research-oriented application into a development organization has predictably negative consequences.


SaaS has changed the ELN paradigm

The advent of SaaS (Software as a Service) Electronic Laboratory Notebook offerings has disrupted the conventional single ELN vendor implementation.  SaaS eliminates many of the barriers to ELN implementation which drove the need for a single vendor solution.

  • No infrastructure – no hardware or IT knowledge transfer
  • Solution is managed by the vendor
  • Solutions can include a complete validation package
  • Implementations in days not months.
  • Data Mart slots into the organization data framework

The Plug and Play nature of SaaS ELN solutions can be liberating!  Organizations are now free to consider the benefits to be derived from implementing the best solution for a functional group.

  • The ELN can “speak” the language of the specific community group with targeted structure, calculations, and reports.
  • Requires minimal configuration or customization. Scientists are not well known for defining “good” requirements.  Just skip this source of implementation failure.
  • Instrument interface can often be provided out of the box.
  • The vendor is more likely to extend the product to support the specific community.
  • Individual functional groups can have more “control”, implementing and operating at their own pace.



Medium to large organizations should reconsider the “one-size fits all” ELN strategy.  By rethinking the drivers which resulted in a single ELN approach your organization may be free to consider implementation of the “best” application for specific functions across the organization.  The result can be more productive scientists coupled with reduced cost of ownership.

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