Adoption by Scientists
“Adoption by scientists is split along experience lines,” Dr. Scoffin reported. Twenty-somethings, fresh from university, have been known to tell their new bosses that the organization is archaic if it’s still using paper notebooks. More experienced scientists generally are more hesitant, simply because they’re unfamiliar with the technology.
When Lonza implemented ELNs, scientists’ first response was not positive, Dr. Giraud recalled. But, they did agree to test it, and after a two-month pilot, users requested only minor changes. Now, all new projects use the ELN.
At Eli Lilly (www.lilly.com), attorneys and quality assurance largely drove the decision to use a completely electronic notebook instead of a hybrid notebook, explained Michael Kopach, Ph.D., principal research scientist, chemical product research.
Legal and quality teams were uncomfortable with hybrid notebooks because they required replicating data, thus allowing the possibility that the electronic and paper records would not be equivalent. Therefore, a fully electronic system was deemed a much lower risk. Validation, he explained, was an important requirement for legal acceptance.
Rollout began about four years ago, starting in process chemistry with 100 users for a one-year deployment, Dr. Kopach noted. “The results were so positive that we expanded to all of our process and discovery chemists,” he continued. More recently, the company has expanded to formulation development, a contract manufacturing organization, and other areas. Biology departments are in early pilots. Eli Lilly uses one electronic platform with modules developed for each discipline as needed. “The goal is to convert all scientists to the fully electronic format,” he remarked.
Researchers watched the implementation in process chemistry carefully and decided the ELN had merit. There are still issues in rollouts though. Perhaps the greatest surprise was the need for additional training, particularly among very experienced scientists who weren’t very computer savvy.
“For deployment of the initial 100 users, we had a mandated 30-day conversion process from paper to fully electronic. We found that many users received their initial training and then waited until day 29.5 before converting to the electronic system, thereby forgetting quite a bit of what they had learned in the training sessions.
“So for future deployments, we decreased the transition time from paper to electronic to 14 days and assigned all new ELN users a mentor, which greatly facilitated user uptake of the new system,” Dr. Kopach elaborated.
“We are seeing increases in productivity in those fully deployed departments” because project managers and scientists can easily access previously inaccessible information, using it to create new experiments and add greater value. “It helps project managers see the big picture,” Dr. Kopach said. “In external conference meetings, people tend to quote high-efficiency improvements, but they’re not extremely accurate.” Lilly’s collection of metrics shows “a safe, conservative estimate of return on an investment of 5%, which adds up quickly to a lot of money.”