Managing change in the laboratory

Informatics providers share their experiences on the importance of using the latest laboratory informatics technology

What are the main challenges that your users face when deploying digital informatics technology?

Renaud Acker, chief operating officer at AgiLab

Renaud Acker explains that, for many of AgiLab’s customers, ‘change control’ is the main challenge: ‘Processes have changed by using a new generation of soſtware. Users must be trained, standard operating procedures (SOPs) must be adapted, data handling and traceability must be managed in a different way. ‘Tis means that lab soſtware should be

user-friendly for daily use. Screens must be clear with adapted vocabulary,’ stated Acker. ‘However, it must also be adapted to laboratory processes and objectives in order to increase efficiency and productivity and finally it must facilitate collaboration between scientists. ‘Te main issue is to handle data, not only

to store it but also to be able to use that data effectively,’ stressed Acker. ‘Laboratories are producing and accumulating more and more data from experiments, analysis, bibliography and other areas. For instance, one screening campaign could generate hundreds of thousands of results, a query on a citation source like Pubmed can report thousands of references. ‘Te challenge is to centralise data, to manage


and gather information, to generate knowledge from data – and to keep track of what has been done, how it has been done, if it has worked or not. Big data technologies will be very useful to annotate, explore and exploit the whole set of data generated in labs and gathered from external public sources. ‘AgiLab soſtware meets these requirements

by providing applications with new ergonomics, agility and rapid implementation,’ said Acker. ‘Te AgiLab Science platform centralises all data types from any kind of lab: discovery in chemistry, biology, formulation and analytics to name some examples. SOP, like any kind of document, could be managed in AgiLab Science to be followed version aſter version – and referenced when operations in the lab are complete.’ While there are clear benefits to using the latest

soſtware, cost of investment can be a big issue that prevents companies from replacing legacy infrastructure – but it is not the only reason, as Acker explains. ‘Tere are at least two main reasons why labs

don’t move easily to new lab soſtware. Many companies and labs have spent fortunes in their first generation of lab soſtware. Secondly, they have customised these products with considerable effort and money, so they aren’t eager to move. When a Lab needs to be compliant to GMP, GLP, etc it has many other points to manage: change control, system validation, certification and audits.’

All of these aspects can make a move more

challenging, but ultimately choosing not to upgrade impacts agility – and the speed and quality of further laboratory operations. Another aspect that AgiLab was keen to stress

was that cloud deployments are increasingly seen as a good choice for many laboratories. However, the move to cloud based informatics requires a user to change their mindset as they move from silos of data to a more fluid model of shared data sets and collaboration. ‘Labs are still working in silos,’ added Acker. ‘New R&D processes should break this logic in

“Processes have changed by using a new generation of software”

order not only to exchange data but mostly to anticipate issues by gathering scientists working on a project. Collaboration is essential for R&D project success. Cloud applications could help to exchange data and ideas between labs in different locations, between industrial, partners and academics.’ Acker concluded that cloud-based laboratory

informatics is growing due to a number of factors including their robust security, the potential for hosting management of services off-premise and the use of cloud subscription models that can reduce initial investment and running costs.


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