The Ultimate Guide for a Painless Transition to a Digital Data Environment

Andrey Badalyan January 18th 2021


Even with the projection of the scientific community towards digitalisation, some areas of research still remain untouched by this trend; scientific record keeping being one of them. Various ELN solutions have been created over the recent years in pursuit of full digitisation of laboratory record keeping. Although having many strong advantages over old-fashioned paper-based solutions, no single scientific data management system has yet succeeded in becoming a clear-cut leader in the market. Amongst key reasons for companies hesitating to make the transition to a digital solution are accessibility across different devices and operating systems and ease of use, which can hinder productivity and efficiency.

Communication and effective collaboration are key in scientific research. Facilitating how employees interact with one another within a research organisation is important. This goes beyond collaboration within the organisation, as communication with third parties such as funding bodies for academia and regulatory bodies for R&D is equally important. Creating a collaborative environment is one of the aspects addressed by digital data solutions and is the primary cause organisations choose to digitalise their research.

A transformation to a single digital data environment offers researchers many benefits like solving storage problems, making research experiments accessible from multiple devices and any operating system and having built-in IP protection support. Companies often find the decision of making the transition come naturally to them, as they cannot risk falling behind with the progress and competition. You can access this article for a step-by-step guide to choosing the best digital data solution for your research needs. In this article, we will present a hands-on guide for making a painless transition to a single digital data environment and will explain why this transition will be so much easier with Labstep.


Deployment of the software

According to a BioSistemika study, the vast majority of the research labs found that time for software implementation was a major limiting factor for their transition to a scientific data management environment. Organisations need to minimise this limitation by implementing a structured and well-designed plan for their transition. The first step to transitioning to a digital research environment is to make the new research software available and easily accessible to all of its users in your organisation. During this step, the organisation will strategically evaluate and plan how software will be released, appoint employees for monitoring the deployment process and communicate with the software providers to ensure a smooth integration. Here are the top tips to consider during this phase:

  1. Devise a robust plan of deployment across the organisation. A robust plan will ensure that the transition is well-structured and runs smoothly, without any unexpected results. For instance, start planning the best ways to transfer individual research projects to a new system without losing valuable time, or consider how to ensure that all employees are on the same page when it comes to using the new digital data management system;

  2. Planning the deployment of a new software across the whole organisation can be difficult and time intensive. Instead of rolling out across the whole organisation, consider testing the software on a smaller research group such as a lab or research unit. This will not only allow for identification of potential risks or setbacks but also will give you a reasonable sample size representative of the effect on the employee’s productivity and contentment with the system;

  3. Ensure a back-and-forth effective communication with the providers of the new digital research environment. Make sure that your organisation has identified how the system is used and what functionality is important to particular research groups. If a gap in functionality has been identified, ensure to communicate this to the provider, asking for a feature to be added before the software is released across your organization.


Import your documentation, materials and lab consumables

Now that the planning part is behind, it comes a time to actually implement the new system and start making good use of the single digital environment by importing your data, experiments and lab consumables as well as logging your instruments. Importing old experiments, protocols and inventory into a digital system may seem like a hefty task. The most effective way to implement this is to train the employees on how to import data and have everyone import their individual work themselves rather than assigning a dedicated team for this task. The ease of data import varies significantly by provider. Using a single digital research environment as opposed to a LIMS or ELN has a big advantage - all of your lab workspace can be digitised, keeping protocols, inventory, consumables and experiments all in one place. Labstep makes document import easy and intuitive - for instance, you can import a protocol using our easy import tool and quickly convert them to an accessible step-by step format. For more information on Labstep’s import features click here.


Employee education and training

For any research organisation, the end goal of a transition to a digital research environment is to improve productivity and research output without compromising data safety and security. Making sure that all employees know how to make the best use of the system and fulfil all security requisites, staff must be well trained, educated and prepared to use all features of the new system:

  1. Instead of simply sending out a deployment request, first investigate the readiness of the team to a digital transition. According to a survey with 169 research labs, it was found that 80% of the respondent labs have identified digital scientific record-keeping solutions as difficult to use or with at least some features being hard to capture. This suggests that the majority of staff are simply not ready to use the new system either due to computer illiteracy or complexity of the system. Identifying where employees are in terms of readiness to the new data management system is key to devising an effective training plan;

  2. Enquire if the software providers can assist you with the employee training programme. Getting specialist training from software developers is a much more effective way of getting everyone up to speed with the new system;

  3. Reward the employees for using the technology. Some employees may initially be sceptical about the whole digitisation process and may refuse the change and resort to the old ways of recording data. Rewarding those who embrace the change will be a good way of incentivizing the transition across all departments.

Labstep makes the transition process easy, natural and stress-free. Our onboarding process is carefully mapped out according to your organisation’s unique situation and we are ready to help you along every step of the way. From helping you devise a deployment plan to employee training and workspace set-up, our team is mindful of your time and dedicated to make this a frictionless experience for everyone in your team. For more information on how Labstep can help you make a painless transition to our centralised solution, contact enterprise@labstep.com.


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Labstep is a provider of scientific data management software for R&D organisations across industries (Biotech, Pharma, Biology, Chemicals, Agriculture etc) who need to manage, capture, share and use data effectively.

The Labstep platform is an end to end flexible research environment that connects your notebook, inventory, applications and data in one collaborative workspace.

To learn more about Labstep’s lab inventory management module, get in touch. Contact us or book a demo today.