lab manager looks at screen accessing lab management software while lab assistant looks at sample

Lab Management Software That Can Get You Out of Spreadsheets

As laboratories grow and the volume of data increases, managing operations with spreadsheets can become cumbersome and error-prone. This article explores three types of lab management software that can streamline your processes: Sample Management Software, Electronic Lab Notebooks (ELNs), and Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS). These tools are designed to enhance efficiency, data integrity, and regulatory compliance, transforming the way labs operate.


Contents: ELN as Lab Management Software | Sample Management Software | LIMS for More Functionality | LabKey


Electronic Lab Notebooks (ELNs) as Part of Lab Management Software

What is an electronic lab notebook? An ELN is an important piece of lab management software that allows researchers to take experiment notes, record data, and collaborate in a secure environment accessible via the cloud. This system not only enhances data management but also supports labs in maintaining continuity and consistency in their research activities.

Comprehensive Experiment Documentation: ELN software enables researchers to consolidate all experiment-related information into unified entries. Detailed notes on protocols, materials used, observations, and results are captured in a single, organized entry. Users can also record step-by-step processes, integrate multimedia elements like images and videos, and attach relevant data files directly to notebook entries.

Collaboration Features: Unlike static spreadsheets, ELNs enable real-time collaboration among researchers. Team members can simultaneously view and edit experiments, making teamwork more efficient and reducing the bottlenecks associated with file sharing and version conflicts.

Regulatory Compliance: ELNs are designed to comply with FDA regulations, including 21 CFR Part 11, and other global standards. This compliance is vital for labs that must adhere to strict regulatory requirements, making ELNs an indispensable tool for research integrity and audit readiness.


Sample Management Software

As the number of samples and complexity of research grow, managing them in spreadsheets becomes increasingly unmanageable. This is where sample management software, a core function of lab management systems, comes into play. By streamlining the laboratory processes involved in locating samples, tracing their lineage, maintaining associated data, and tracking their precise locations, this software significantly enhances lab efficiency. These improvements not only save valuable lab time but also increase the reliability and accuracy of experimental results.

Audit Logging: Sample management software provides comprehensive audit logs, tracking every action performed on a sample throughout its lifecycle. This feature ensures that all modifications, transfers, and usage of samples are meticulously recorded, providing a clear and traceable chain of custody that is invaluable during lab audits.

Sample Lifecycle Tracking: Accurate full lifecycle tracking of samples is a key advantage of sample management software. From creation and storage to usage and disposal, every stage is documented. This thorough tracking helps maintain the integrity of the sample data and supports reproducibility of experiments.

Sample Storage and Movement Accuracy: The software precisely captures the storage/freezer conditions and movement of samples within the lab. By logging details such as temperature, location changes, and handling, it ensures that samples are stored and transported under optimal conditions. This accuracy reduces the risk of sample degradation and contamination, crucial for maintaining the quality of experimental results.

Integration: One of the most significant advantages of sample management software as lab management software is its ability to integrate seamlessly with other lab instruments and software systems. This connectivity eliminates the need for redundant and manual data entry across platforms, enhancing efficiency and reducing errors.


Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS)

For labs with a variety of workflows and higher throughput, a LIMS is a vital type of lab management software. These systems help manage samples, tests, results, and compliance data efficiently. LIMS automates workflows and centralizes data, providing a reliable and accessible platform for labs to enhance their operational efficiency and productivity. Comparing ELNs to LIMS, LIMS are far more feature rich.

Workflow Optimization: LIMS manages the entire lifecycle of laboratory information from sample log-in to reporting results. By automating workflows, LIMS ensures that all procedural steps are followed correctly, enhancing the lab’s operational efficiency.

Reporting and Analytics: LIMS excel in generating detailed reports and conducting sophisticated analytics. These capabilities provide lab managers and principal investigators with insights into experiment performance and data, helping in data analysis, strategic decision-making and operational improvements.

Customization and Flexibility: LIMS can be extensively customized to fit the unique needs of different labs. Whether it’s adapting to new tests, modifying data fields, or integrating with existing hardware, LIMS offer flexibility that is hard to achieve with generic spreadsheet applications.


LabKey’s Lab Management Software

Growing life science research labs struggling with accurate, efficient data management can find improvements in all three of these lab management solutions.

LabKey’s ELN integrates with all LabKey solutions to improve collaboration, data accessibility, and workflow.

LabKey’s Sample Manager is cloud-based sample management software providing complete sample tracking, freezer management, lab workflow management, and compliance features to fit labs of all sizes.

LabKey LIMS, including both Sample Manager and ELN, revolutionizes laboratory efficiency with a sample-centric approach, integrated storage management, comprehensive workflows, and visualization and reporting.

Interested in learning more? Let’s talk!

Learn more about Lab Management Software:

Creating a Laboratory Workflow for Sample Management

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Lab Inventory Management: Take Control of Your Lab Supplies

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Benefits of Sample-centric Freezer Management Software

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