An electronic lab notebook, also known as an ELN, is a piece of software designed for the documentation and management of scientific research. It’s used to record results from individual experiments, analyze samples, and manage the overall running of the laboratory environment. There are many benefits of ELN software, particularly when compared to other methods of data management.

Labs produce large amounts of data on a daily basis, and the security and accuracy of this information is extremely important to the success of the research. In the past, experiment data was kept in paper form or managed using generic software such as spreadsheets and databases, but these methods aren’t able to handle the huge output and stringent security requirements of a modern laboratory.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at the benefits of ELN software, covering the following topics:

What are the advantages of an ELN?

If you’re not sure whether upgrading to ELN software is the right choice, it’s worth weighing up the positives and the negatives. Let’s take a look at the key ELN advantages, and how they can benefit your lab.


ELN software significantly improves lab productivity by streamlining data management, simplifying task assignment, and enabling real-time collaboration.

Researchers can easily create and assign tasks, set deadlines, and track progress within the ELN platform for greater accountability.

Additionally, task automation streamlines repetitive processes. As well as saving time and reducing errors, this allows researchers to focus on more critical aspects of their work.


An important advantage of ELN software is its built-in compliance features, ensuring that regulatory requirements and industry standards are met.

Electronic signatures, audit trails and data encryption provide a secure and traceable record of data manipulation and experiment approval across all internal and external touchpoints.

As well as helping to meet the stringent demands of regulatory authorities, these compliance measures also safeguard the credibility of the research.

Compliance standards include:

  • ISO 17025: This is the international standard for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories. It specifies the general requirements for the competence, impartiality, and consistent operation of laboratories.
  • CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments): In the United States, CLIA regulations establish quality standards for all laboratory testing to ensure accuracy, reliability, and timeliness of patient test results.
  • GLP (Good Laboratory Practice): GLP is a set of principles and guidelines for the conduct of non-clinical safety studies of chemicals and pharmaceuticals. It ensures the reliability and validity of test data submitted for regulatory approvals.
  • GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice): GMP is a system to ensure that products are consistently produced and controlled according to quality standards. While it is primarily applicable to manufacturing, it may also apply to certain laboratory activities.
  • GCP (Good Clinical Practice): GCP is an international ethical and scientific quality standard for designing, conducting, recording, and reporting clinical trials involving human subjects.
  • HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act): HIPAA regulations govern the security and privacy of protected health information (PHI) in the United States, including data generated and handled by laboratories.

Data Management

By providing a structured framework for experiment documentation, ELN software helps to promote a more systematic and organized approach to data management.

Researchers can categorize samples, add searchable tags, and use metadata fields for easy data retrieval to streamline analysis and comparison.

Electronic lab notebooks use cloud storage, offering a single point of access to data for all users. This reduces the risk of duplicate documents and corrupted data, while offering effective data organization that is fully scalable.

Sample Management

With an ELN, every action and modification related to sample management is recorded and timestamped, creating a comprehensive audit trail. This traceability is crucial for compliance purposes and can help identify any discrepancies or errors.  The ability to trace sample and aliquot lineage and the layering of samples on instrument plates is also important for scientists.

Inventory Management

ELNs often offer features for managing sample inventories, including barcode scanning, tracking sample storage locations, transferring samples to new locations, and monitoring sample quantities and reordering. This ensures efficient use of samples, reagents and reactants and reduces wastage.


ELNs provide detailed experiment documentation, complete with protocols, methods and observations.

Researchers are able to create data templates to ensure that the same parameters are measured and recorded every time, enabling reproducibility both internally and within the wider research industry.

This also allows results to be independently verified, enhancing the credibility of the research, promoting transparency and advancing scientific knowledge on a larger scale.

Collaboration and Sharing

The integration capabilities of electronic lab notebooks allow them to connect with other software both within the laboratory and in external locations, enabling seamless data sharing among team members.

With cloud-based software like Sapio ELN, technicians across the organization can access data with the confidence that it is accurate and up-to-date for more efficient collaboration.

This means that researchers can collaborate remotely in real-time, working together on projects to enhance scientific progress.


As well as promoting structured data organization, ELN software also offers the flexibility to adapt to a variety of different workflows and project requirements.

Researchers can take advantage of customizable templates and experiment designs, tailoring their individual ELN experience to specific areas of study where data or compliance requirements differ.

This means that each lab is able to structure, manage and present data to suit their unique requirements, while ensuring consistency across the wider lab ecosystem.

Storage and Accessibility

By using centralized cloud storage, ELNs offer easy access to information from any location at any time. This allows for collaboration across remote teams while ensuring that all data is accurate and up to date.

Scientists can create unique profiles and assign user roles with appropriate levels of access to promote data security without compromising on collaboration, so your lab’s sensitive information is kept safe at all times.

Cloud storage also enables scalability that can grow or shrink with your organization as necessary, removing the need to implement new systems in the future.

Data Security

One of the key advantages of using an ELN rather than paper-based methods or less specialized digital solutions is the robustness of its data security.

With configurable user permissions, access controls and data encryption, researchers can be sure that information stored on the cloud database is safe from unauthorized access or data breaches. 

This helps to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of sensitive research information, while automated regular backups protect against data loss to enhance lab efficiency.

Are there any cons of using an ELN?

As well as looking at the various ELN advantages, it’s important to take note of any potential drawbacks that could hinder lab performance.

Training Time

As with any piece of software, there will be a period of training and adoption that may cause the lab to run less efficiently than before implementation for a short time.

This can be mitigated by choosing an ELN solution that offers a simple user interface and seamless integration with your existing IT infrastructure. Sapio ELN uses a no-code, drag-and-drop approach to designing lab workflows, making it intuitive and easy to use.

Flexibility Limitations

Not all ELN software is as flexible and configurable as you might think, leading to rigid experiment workflows that don’t align with your lab’s ways of working. With Sapio ELN, you can create fully customized workflows, experiment templates and automated processes to tailor data capture, management and reporting to suit your unique needs.

Experience the benefits of an electronic lab notebook with Sapio ELN

There are many advantages to implementing an electronic lab notebook in your facility. ELNs help labs to streamline workflows, promote data integrity, elevate productivity and comply with industry regulations.

Sapio Electronic Lab Notebook empowers researchers to improve the quality of their scientific endeavors, offering a user-friendly interface that makes it easy to create customized workflows, grant access permissions and monitor data compliance, all without the need for any technical coding.

To find out more about Sapio ELN, or any of our solutions, get in touch or request a demo today.

Academics can also try our free ELN software which includes document and experiment searching, enterprise-class scalability, integrated chat and real-time data replication.