Blog post

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Saurav Yadav & Pranaov Ravindrababu   |     |  Read Time 5 mins


22 years ago, when the world was figuring out how to handle the Y2K Paradigm life science industry was probably the least bothered given the maturity of the computer systems it had invested in then. Back then, scientific data was still being recorded on paper and would be looked up manually from the archive rooms. More than 2 decades later, the industry is now in the centre of digitalization and is attempting to harness the potential of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

The transition period saw the phenomenal rise of two concepts in computer systems – Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN) and Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS).

Today, there are more makers of ELN in the market than the makers of android phones – clearly underpinning the market potential. However, not all ELN makers sustain in the market – primarily because of their inability to keep up with the innovative but disruptive scientific methodologies towards drug discovery, development, and commercialization.

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Given the wild run to cure diseases being at its highest than ever before, the drug makers are now looking for ELN systems that allow them to focus on research rather than recording the research data i.e., they are looking for systems that can automate data capture.

The product vendors are all ears to this and are in constant work to better their products but there is one practical problem – making technology meet its actual need i.e., understanding the unsaid / unexpressed needs of the lab analysts (the actual users of ELN) and deploying/upgrading the system in a way it meets these needs.

Since the last decade, both big pharmaceutical and small biotech organizations have been constantly overhauling their informatics landscape to have ELN system that caters to all their changing needs.

From our experience with our customers, one critical step that alleviates the constant re-work is to understand the unsaid needs, pain points, and/or challenges for Business and IT stakeholders with the current ELN system.

When these unsaid needs overlapped with the vision/strategy of the organization, we were able to render a sustainable plan for the implementation/upgrade of the ELN system. We call this exercise “Phase 0 Evaluation.”

And it includes other systematic tasks like evaluating current state usage independently of business emotions.

Though this exercise may sound simple, we learnt over a period that it requires a specific skill to do it right – following are some of the key items.

1. Knowledge of the capabilities of legacy, current and upcoming versions of ELN system (from whichever product vendor)

2. Experience in assessing informatics landscapes and proposing solutions to address gaps

3. Understanding infrastructure constrains and network architecture of the organization

4. Understanding business processes across different functional units and their usage of ELN

5. Empathy towards business users to understand pain points with the current ELN version

6. Knowledge of other ELN systems in the market and what value they may bring to the business

7.Experience with proposing upgrade plans along with risk identification and mitigation

8. Overseeing upgrades with the ability to manage the needs of various parties (including product vendors)


The implementation of the above in a phased manner for the upgrade of ELN plays a key role in filling the gap between the usual approach and an economic approach (that Zifo prefers). The infographic takes each step in turn.

Ensuring inclusion of all the steps in the recommended approach increases the chances of better assimilation of upgrades, addressing business needs and providing good user experience – one of the primary objectives of any upgrade, isn’t it?

To find out more about how Zifo can help with your ELN and Digitalisation, please email us at info@zifornd.com