IDBS Blog | 20th November 2013

Insider Secrets to Successful ELN Implementations: Pilots, Customizations and Testing

In this second of our series on insider secrets for successful ELN implementations we are looking at pilots, customizations and testing based on group feedback from our LinkedIn user group. Our first blog summarized the importance of understanding requirements, generating buy-in and the challenge of managing change.

Insider secret #4: ‘Super users’. By definition these types of people tend to be great advocates for systems and will help push for ELNs to be implemented. They can also be used to gather feedback, test functionality, collate suggestions and provide ongoing support to fellow users.

Insider secret #5: ‘Customization’. This can be good but is a double edged sword. Most users greatly appreciate being presented with a basic layout, something familiar when they open the ELN, rather than just a blank page. Karen Kedzie suggested a scientific paper format with tabs for a title page (with drop downs for programs and projects so that searches are consistent), materials and methods, results and conclusions. Alexander Botzki pointed to users who remain happy with a ‘vanilla’ system while others continue to request customizations of variable complexity. General consensus is to advise working towards customizing to the point where most people are satisfied. Delivering configurations without code changes is also recommended to ease future system upgrades, limit cost and complexity of system maintenance.

Insider secret #6: ‘Testing’. Strong advocates or super users often play a pivotal role here once again, as they listen to users’ feedback, collate comments, summarize problems and address complaints. One useful suggestion is to create user groups, using ELN advocates where possible, to ensure the majority of scenarios are represented, such as workflows for signing off, witnessing, reopening and adding to experiments.

Positive engagement and demonstrating ELN benefits to users up front can boost internal advocacy. Super users can be crucial in helping to turn negative user reaction into positive support, so both acknowledging and supporting their commitment is important. Karen Kedzie told us that as they got feedback and tweaked the system to respond to the comments, “people got more accustomed to using the ELN, they began to like it.”

In our final blog, we will share the LinkedIn group’s views around successful implementation strategies.

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