Addressing and Encouraging User Adoption Regarding ELN Implementation


Help employees adopt electronic laboratory notebooks by following the steps outlined below
Image Source: Flickr CC user UCL Mathematical and Physical Sciences

I have a daily routine whenever I arrive at the office. First, I put my things away and turn on my computer. While it is booting up, I visit the break room to retrieve a bottle of water (I don’t like coffee, but everyone needs a morning beverage). I return to my computer and check my calendar for the day and any email messages that were sent after I left the day before. I then turn my attention to the “to-do” list for the day. I have followed this procedure so consistently for the past two years that I become grouchy if something throws off my routine.

As humans, we tend to find comfort in our routines and can put up resistance when there is pressure to change and adopt new routines. Lab directors may have found this particularly true in regard to switching from paper notebooks to an electronic laboratory notebook (ELN).

Moving to an ELN is sometimes not easy. However, there are certain strategies that a laboratory director can implement to encourage the adoption of an ELN. These steps include the following:

  1. Identify Risks Associated With Not Adopting ELN – People tend not to change unless they believe that their current way of doing things is incompatible with the future. Change, therefore, starts with a discussion about potential risks to the company. In regard to an ELN, this discussion can be about competitors who have adopted ELN technology and the effects it had on client satisfaction. Or a conversation could include hypothetical scenarios about losing intellectual property due to paper notebook loss or destruction. The bottom line is that identifying potential risks to the laboratory and its work can help people appreciate change.

  2. Create a Sense of Urgency – Once employees understand the need to change, it is helpful to then generate a sense of urgency surrounding the change. With an ELN, this will include an honest discussion regarding opportunities lost because the lab did not have an ELN, or what opportunities could be explored further with one. It might also be helpful to include customers that would benefit from an ELN adoption into this discussion.

  3. Build Inclusion – Scientists are more likely to accept an ELN if they feel like they are part of the decision-making process. Since it’s unlikely that everyone will be on the selection committee, this inclusion can be addressed by keeping everyone updated on the selection process. This might include newsletters about the selection process, surveys about desired features and lunch room conferences during which scientists can ask the selection committee questions.

  4. Create Short-Term Wins – There is an old saying that “success breeds success.” This applies to ELN adoption like it does elsewhere in life. When adopting an ELN, help the laboratory staff identify some quick wins that have occurred because of the change. This may include the addition of a new client or detailed statistics about the increased efficiency because of the change.

  5. Build On the Change – Once the laboratory receives a taste of success and workflow efficiency that comes with the implementation of an ELN, build on this with even more success. This can be accomplished by analyzing what went right and wrong regarding each milestone of a project. This will help the team learn from mistakes and identify ways that processes can be improved moving forward.

Successfully implementing an ELN requires more than just purchasing software. It requires adoption from every employee who tends to be resistant to change. Following the steps outlined above can help ensure that even the grouchiest employees come to accept and maybe even appreciate ELN implementation.

If your firm is ready to implement a best practices electronic lab notebook, consider exploring the BIOVIA Notebook. For more information, please visit our website today.

2 thoughts on “Addressing and Encouraging User Adoption Regarding ELN Implementation

  1. Another great way to get people to adopt something new like using an ELN is showing them how it will make their job easier. Keeping information electronically can make it more transferrable and accessible as well as more secure. Even if someone isn’t worried about security, maybe some of the other features of the ELN would make their job easier, which would motivate them to use it. True, that kind of encouragement requires a tailored approach and knowing each employee, but it’s something that the direct supervisor could do with each person to encourage complaince. Also ensuring people have knowledgable, friendly and responsive assistance if they have trouble with the software or have a questions is very important. The more positive experiences people have with the rollout of the program, the better it is.

  2. Anne, I couldn’t agree more with you points. Change management is difficult but not having users adopt and use the system is worse.

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