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Comparing LabVantage ELN vs. LES Modules

The LabVantage ELN and LES modules can be valuable additions to an existing LabVantage LIMS system for many different industry laboratories. Visually, these two appear very similar and even use some of the same template pieces – so what’s the difference? Which would be most fitting for your laboratory? In this piece, we outline the differences when comparing LabVantage ELN vs LES modules and explore considerations for selecting the right module for your lab. 

Electronic Laboratory Notebook (ELN) 

ELN, short for Electronic Laboratory Notebook, aims to serve as an electronic replacement for traditional paper laboratory notebooks. LabVantage ELN is most often utilized in research and development (R&D) laboratories where flexibility and collaboration are advantageous. They are more free-form in nature, allowing the end user to customize which sections, called controls in LabVantage, are needed for recording and presenting data from an experiment. Examples might include spreadsheets, linking samples, uploading attachments, free-text space for notes or findings, and chemical structure viewer.  Often beginning with a basic or blank template, the ELN worksheet can be modified to be as simple or complex as needed, permitting multiple analysts to view and add their contributions to the experiment.   

Laboratory Execution System (LES) 

In contrast, a Laboratory Execution System, or LES, allows for guided execution for the end-user through the step-by-step testing process of an assay. LES is usually implemented in Quality Control (QC) laboratories where specific procedures must be followed and documented. The rigidity and limited ability of the analyst to customize the LES worksheet naturally encourages consistent and complete execution of the assay. The ability to mark steps as required helps ensure they’re not missed or overlooked by the laboratory analyst because the worksheet can’t be completed unless the step is performed. LES information and layout are predetermined by master data setup – worksheet templates plus attributes that are unique to a test method or AQC method, combined by the LES module to form an easy-to-follow worksheet. Since LES is a module embedded within LIMS, this allows for seamless integration between worksheets and final reported results.      


For some clients, the answer to the most value-adding option may actually be both – ELN for their research departments and LES for their quality laboratories. Both ELN and LES can be printed in a report format, and data entry recorded for a sample on a worksheet is simultaneously also recorded in the LIMS. They can capture all aspects of the testing process in a single location, allowing for documentation of instruments, consumables, testing step completion, and data entry. Worksheets can be electronically submitted for review, so implementing ELN or LES is a positive step toward reducing paper use in the laboratory.   

Considerations for Selecting ELN vs. LES 

Having explored some of the primary differences between ELN and LES while highlighting the value of each, it’s evident that these modules can add value, save time, reduce errors in the lab, and assist in streamlining testing documentation. If you’re thinking about implementing one of these modules and trying to determine the best fit, here a few questions to consider: 

  • Does your laboratory have flexibility to allow for creative and innovative thinking? 
  • Is it necessary for testing in your laboratory to be consistent, accurate, and precise to ensure the utmost quality of products? 
  • Is a reduction or complete elimination of paper use in the laboratory a goal for your company?  
  • Are you looking to support growth in the company by bolstering your LabVantage LIMS system with the ability to easily expand? 

We recognize that each situation is unique. Our team of LIMS experts at Clarkston Consulting can provide tailored guidance and help develop a successful solution to meet your laboratory’s individual needs.    

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Tags: LIMS, Digital Labs, Quality Management Systems