Cutting the Cost of an ELN


                       Simon Coles
                      President & Co-Founder
Cutting the cost of ELNs

    • You can download copies of this presentation from
       our web site




    http://www.a...
Cutting the cost of ELNs

    • You can download copies of this presentation from
       our web site




    http://www.a...
Background to this talk

    • We do the “Broad” aspects of ELNs
         • Primarily, the IP protection, searchable repos...
Learning opportunity!

    • Small biotechs have small budgets
    • There’s a real incentive to get value for money
    •...
What is an ELN?

    • The phrase “Electronic Lab Notebook” is very
       ambiguous
         • What it means depends a lo...
Mapping the ELN problem

    •   We many different things when we say “ELN”
    •   It really helps if we can split the pr...
“Broad” Vs “Deep” Functions

    • “Broad”
         • Support a wide variety of work across a company
         • Enables c...
What’s deep, what’s broad?

    • Good guides from history
         • Broad: If the function is historically funded/provid...
ELN Success tip #1

    • Stop using the phrase “Electronic Lab Notebook”
    • Say what you mean
         •   Reaction pl...
Why do you start looking?

     • The problems with the Bound Lab Notebook only
         started when you bought computers...
Do you already have one?

     • The “ELN” problem is in fact many problems in
        one
          • Some would argue th...
Examples

     • Lots of science gets done in Microsoft Office
     • You might already have some cheminformatics
        s...
The perils of one-for-all

     • If you “Rip & Replace” with a single “do-it-all” ELN
          • You’ll throw away all t...
Use specific tools when needed

     • Science is a tremendously broad field, and most
         organisations have more than...
The perils of requirements

     • Often requirements generation ends up with a
         huge “wish list” of items
     • ...
Finding vendors

     • “Broad” aspects
          • This is boring infrastructure
          • Solutions from the world of ...
Integration is key

     • Rarely can you buy a complete solution from one
        vendor
          • Science is too diver...
Integration

     • Integration between systems need not be painful
          • Although there’s no doubt that some can be...
URL linking in more detail

     • Most systems have a web-based component
     • Sensible designers expose known, stable ...
Mashups

     • New “meme” from the Web 2.0 community,
         concept from the music industry
     •   Wikipedia: “A mas...
Implementation hints

     • Computing in the lab
     • Don’t upset your users
     • An “Electronic” Lab Notebook doesn’...
Computing in the lab

     •   Scientists like taking their notebooks into the lab
     •   That was easy with paper noteb...
Don’t upset your users

     • They have real jobs to do, so don’t expect them to
         dedicate huge amounts of time t...
Scientists still like paper

     • You’re replacing a paper process
     • It is likely that an ELN deployment will remov...
Paper Vs Electronic Evidence

         • Just because the scientists have an ELN doesn’t mean you need to
             mov...
Deliver the ROI ASAP

     • Integration is often a key part of delivering the ROI
          • However, some segment of yo...
Open Formats & Interfaces

     • Open File Formats and Open Interfaces are very
       important for ELNs for a variety o...
Infrastructure

     • The industry is moving quickly to Open Source on
         the server side
          • Linux, Postgr...
Cutting the costs of ELNs

     •   Don’t say “ELN”: Say what you mean
     •   Build on what you have
     •   Buy/build ...
Questions

     • Copies of this presentation can be downloaded
        from the Amphora web site
          http://www.amp...
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2006 02 28 SRI ELN Cost

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Cutting/controlling the costs of ELNs, delivered to the SRI ELN conference in February 2006

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2006 02 28 SRI ELN Cost

  1. 1. Cutting the Cost of an ELN Simon Coles President & Co-Founder
  2. 2. Cutting the cost of ELNs • You can download copies of this presentation from our web site http://www.amphora-research.com/ 2
  3. 3. Cutting the cost of ELNs • You can download copies of this presentation from our web site http://www.amphora-research.com/ 2
  4. 4. Background to this talk • We do the “Broad” aspects of ELNs • Primarily, the IP protection, searchable repository etc. • Not really anything science-specific • We end up working mainly in three scenarios • Where there’s a discipline-specific ELN and they want an alternative to cut ‘n stick into a BLN • Larger companies where they’ve got a lot of diversity and deploy different front-end solutions • Biotechs http://www.amphora-research.com/ 3
  5. 5. Learning opportunity! • Small biotechs have small budgets • There’s a real incentive to get value for money • This is an attempt to draw out those lessons into something more generic • My background is primarily in non-regulated areas • Although some of this might apply to Development http://www.amphora-research.com/ 4
  6. 6. What is an ELN? • The phrase “Electronic Lab Notebook” is very ambiguous • What it means depends a lot on who’s talking • And then marketing discovered it... • Partly this is because the Bound Lab Notebook has two masters • The scientists • The company (especially legal & records management) http://www.amphora-research.com/ 5
  7. 7. Mapping the ELN problem • We many different things when we say “ELN” • It really helps if we can split the problem up • There are different ways of doing this • We use a simple “Broad” Vs “Deep” distinction “Broad” aspects Security, Collaboration, Patent Protection etc. A B C D http://www.amphora-research.com/ 6
  8. 8. “Broad” Vs “Deep” Functions • “Broad” • Support a wide variety of work across a company • Enables collaboration & Knowledge Management • Best achieved by deploying a “Thin” layer over other systems • Budget & ROI generally found in a staff function • “Deep” • Support for each individual scientific discipline • Generally involves specific datatypes • Generally reinforce/dictate specific workstyle • Can involve significant product & implementation costs • But delivers significant productivity benefits • Budget & ROI found on a departmental basis http://www.amphora-research.com/ 7
  9. 9. What’s deep, what’s broad? • Good guides from history • Broad: If the function is historically funded/provided at a corporate level • Deep: If the need is restricted to subset of users • In addition deep functionality • Often requires technical knowledge to appreciate it • Can be the main driving force for an ELN • Is almost always provided in house, or by a focused supplier • Championed by scientists http://www.amphora-research.com/ 8
  10. 10. ELN Success tip #1 • Stop using the phrase “Electronic Lab Notebook” • Say what you mean • Reaction planning system • Data management tool • Patent Evidence system • etc. • This will help you understand what you have and what you’re missing http://www.amphora-research.com/ 9
  11. 11. Why do you start looking? • The problems with the Bound Lab Notebook only started when you bought computers • Which means by implication, you’ve already made an investment in computer-based tools • Preserving this investment is a vital part of delivering a cost-effective ELN system • Which means you need to understand what you’ve got and how it relates to the ELN problem http://www.amphora-research.com/ 10
  12. 12. Do you already have one? • The “ELN” problem is in fact many problems in one • Some would argue there’s no such thing as an “ELN” • Generally people start looking for an ELN because • They’ve bought a lot of other stuff computer tools to support science • The Bound Notebook is beginning to look a little silly • The key to a successful ELN • Understand what you’ve already got • Then you know what else you need • Leverage the investments you’ve already made • Integration is key http://www.amphora-research.com/ 11
  13. 13. Examples • Lots of science gets done in Microsoft Office • You might already have some cheminformatics software • Often there’s a small jump to the vendor’s ELN • Don’t forget the traditional collaboration solutions • Microsoft InfoPath & SharePoint • IBM’s Lotus Notes http://www.amphora-research.com/ 12
  14. 14. The perils of one-for-all • If you “Rip & Replace” with a single “do-it-all” ELN • You’ll throw away all this investment • A large proportion of your users will just end up using Microsoft Office inside this new “ELN” • But you just spent $2,000/user making Office harder to use • Beware vendors seeking to leverage their relationship in one area to impose themselves in an area which isn’t their strength http://www.amphora-research.com/ 13
  15. 15. Use specific tools when needed • Science is a tremendously broad field, and most organisations have more than one scientific discipline • Chemists will almost always benefit from a specific package, and there are often specialisations beyone that • Biologists tend to be centred around Microsoft Office, but have a huge variety of supporting tools • There are fundamental differences between Discovery & Development • It is very unlikely you’ll have one system for both • Both from a cost and functionality perspective http://www.amphora-research.com/ 14
  16. 16. The perils of requirements • Often requirements generation ends up with a huge “wish list” of items • Seldom are these all crucial, although it is rarely clear which ones • There are various techniques for developing a useful requirements list • 37signals stuff • Sit next to Judith from Orion at lunch • The Toaster • Getting lots of people in a room and asking them what they went is generally a good way to stop progress http://www.amphora-research.com/ 15
  17. 17. Finding vendors • “Broad” aspects • This is boring infrastructure • Solutions from the world of Records Management etc. • “Deep” aspects • For each particular vertical, there are series of suppliers who can help you • You will likely have relationships with some already • With a resulting investment http://www.amphora-research.com/ 16
  18. 18. Integration is key • Rarely can you buy a complete solution from one vendor • Science is too diverse • Your needs will always be changing • Even if you could, it would be a very expensive solution • Lots of “Rip & Replace” • Lots of overhead • Even if you manage to find one ELN, there are still all those other systems you have (LIMS, Registration systems etc.) http://www.amphora-research.com/ 17
  19. 19. Integration • Integration between systems need not be painful • Although there’s no doubt that some can be involved • Making it easier • Open Data Formats and Open APIs • XML, SOAP, REST technologies • Don’t miss the lightweight techniques • OLE (although this can have problems) • Swapping files • Printing • Cut & Paste • URL linking http://www.amphora-research.com/ 18
  20. 20. URL linking in more detail • Most systems have a web-based component • Sensible designers expose known, stable URL forms for other systems to use • e.g. in PatentSafe you can use • http://my.patentsafe/document/AMPH000213 to open a document • http://my.patentsafe/search?compoundId=XYZ to open all the experiments that mention compoundId XYZ • So “Integrating” PatentSafe into another system might just be a matter of putting some hotlinks in • Similarly, going the other way is just as simple • You can build something that looks really smooth in about 5 minutes http://www.amphora-research.com/ 19
  21. 21. Mashups • New “meme” from the Web 2.0 community, concept from the music industry • Wikipedia: “A mashup is a website or web application that seamlessly combines content from more than one source into an integrated experience” • e.g. Google Maps and lists of flats to rent • Relies on open, published web-based APIs • But can be very powerful • I think that if all the vendors provided simple APIs of this form, we’d be stunned with what people managed to build http://www.amphora-research.com/ 20
  22. 22. Implementation hints • Computing in the lab • Don’t upset your users • An “Electronic” Lab Notebook doesn’t have to mean a “Paperless” Lab Notebook • Scientist’s perspective • Legal perspective http://www.amphora-research.com/ 21
  23. 23. Computing in the lab • Scientists like taking their notebooks into the lab • That was easy with paper notebooks • Somewhat harder with electronic notebooks • Various approaches have been tried • Tablet PCs don’t seem to have worked • Palm, PocketPC etc. likewise • Two approaches seem to work • Small PCs on the bench with LCD screens • e.g. the little Dells, or Thin Clients • Remote Desktop to use the person’s home PC • Write on paper & scan it in http://www.amphora-research.com/ 22
  24. 24. Don’t upset your users • They have real jobs to do, so don’t expect them to dedicate huge amounts of time to your wonderful ELN • Don’t require them to make too many changes to their working practices • If you can, let them continue working as they are • Then suggest/let them discover improvements • Make sure they keep the ability to change their working practices • Remember that different disciplines really are different • Not only do they use different software applications • But they have a different “rhythm” • This is particularly the case between medicinal chemists and biologists http://www.amphora-research.com/ 23
  25. 25. Scientists still like paper • You’re replacing a paper process • It is likely that an ELN deployment will remove 80%-90% of the need for a paper lab notebook • That last 10% is really messy, and really expensive • They will seldom transcribe large amounts of data into an ELN if it is just for record keeping • Solutions • Let them keep the bound notebook, they can cross-link to the ELN • In PatentSafe, you can scan PatentPad sheets back into the system to re-synchronise with the database http://www.amphora-research.com/ 24
  26. 26. Paper Vs Electronic Evidence • Just because the scientists have an ELN doesn’t mean you need to move to a completely paperless evidence system • PatentSafe/PatentPad tries to make the paper side painless, and can also be used completely paperless • We’ve managed to almost hide the record keeping from the scientists • Sometimes your lawyers will dictate what you do, sometimes it will be a matter of economics Paper Records Electronic Records System Cost (paperless) Number of users http://www.amphora-research.com/ 25
  27. 27. Deliver the ROI ASAP • Integration is often a key part of delivering the ROI • However, some segment of your userbase can probably get along without it • Start with them, get the initial ROI there, then move onto areas where you need to expend integration $ • Roll out in phases, but deliberately • You can generally accelerate the process as you learn more and get more credibility • But pay special attention to the first few • The ROI from a searchable repository can take time to build • But you probably have some relevant material already • Electronic scans of your existing BLN pages • Research reports etc. • If you can, import those into your existing repository http://www.amphora-research.com/ 26
  28. 28. Open Formats & Interfaces • Open File Formats and Open Interfaces are very important for ELNs for a variety of reasons • From the perspective of this presentation, the reasons are quite simple • If you have alternatives, you have leverage and a equitable relationship with your supplier • If you do not have alternatives, you are in a very weak position • Why would a supplier want to keep formats & interfaces proprietary? • There are no good technical reasons • Most suppliers can be “open” for the “right” customers • …And if you have an open system, you can do an awful lot of really cool stuff later – and successful ELNs are all about integration http://www.amphora-research.com/ 27
  29. 29. Infrastructure • The industry is moving quickly to Open Source on the server side • Linux, Postgres etc. • You might not want it now, but having the option is important • This is not just a matter of cost, and flexibility • Virtualisation is becoming important too (e.g. VMWare - which is now free!) • Cut hardware costs • Cut installation costs • Cut support costs • Generally lowers TCO • Most vendors will support Linux & Windows, Postgres/MySQL & Oracle http://www.amphora-research.com/ 28
  30. 30. Cutting the costs of ELNs • Don’t say “ELN”: Say what you mean • Build on what you have • Buy/build when you need it • Look to your current vendors first (if you like them) • Do requirements gathering consciously • Address the “Broad” aspects separately from the science-specific “Deep” ones • Separate regulated & non-regulated • Don’t upset your users • Require open formats & APIs from your vendors • Before you sign the Purchase Order • Keep the Open Source infrastructure option http://www.amphora-research.com/ 29
  31. 31. Questions • Copies of this presentation can be downloaded from the Amphora web site http://www.amphora-research.com http://www.amphora-research.com/ 30
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