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Insider secrets to successful ELN implementation – where to start?

13th Nov 2013

IDBS recently asked a LinkedIn user group to discuss their real life experiences of electronic laboratory notebook (ELN) implementations. People shared some real gems (thanks for taking the time everyone) and we were so impressed, we’ve decided to pass on their wise words and practical advice in a series of three blogs. Let’s start with where ELN implementations begin; the importance of buy-in and the thorny issue of change management.

So where does an ELN implementation begin?

Secret #1: “Requirements, requirements, requirements” says Phillip Woodhouse. Before any technology is selected, take time to really understand why current processes are inadequate and consider carefully what is needed. Don’t replicate paper-based processes. The ultimate aim should be to develop a system which effectively serves the users and not to just change their behaviours. This will also promote user adoption further down the line.

Secret #2: “Buy-in across the organization is vital”. Understanding and accepting an ELN implementation demands a commitment which, for a time, necessarily detracts from people’s ‘day jobs’ and can temporarily decrease productivity. Time should be allocated for consultation, testing and continuous user support. Karen Kedzie suggests including these activities as personal goals for the year as an effective way to support these commitments. Backing can be boosted by maintaining a consistently high level of communication between all parties – many advocated steering groups.

Secret #3: “Active change management to build excitement and calm any fears”. Poor change management risks scuppering everything and is often the root cause of classic adoption problems such as poor user uptake. People are naturally suspicious of change, can feel powerless, worried their jobs may be at risk and uncomfortable with the scope and pace of changes. Involving users as much as possible from requirements capture to vendor/platform selection through to customization and implementation will oil the process. Welcoming input also helps encourage user acceptance. As Phillip Woodhouse puts it, “Build excitement and calm any fears”.

The second in this series will share the LinkedIn group’s views around super users, customization and testing.