Columbia University’s LabArchives enterprise license ensures that everyone on campus has access to the platform. Researchers, PIs (primary investigators), lab managers, instructors, students, post grads – all can leverage LabArchives for their unique purposes.

But this alone doesn’t mean that they will.

Last month, LabArchives team members travelled to Columbia to do what they do best – support implementation. Their tried and true implementation protocol usually looks something like this:

Educate potential users + support existing users + get user feedback + improve product + REPEAT

After four years of working together, Columbia and LabArchives both know that collaboration at every stage is the secret to wide spread usage and end user success. It’s an ongoing journey that, with the right approach, can even be fun (see below).

LabArchives, Columbia University Libraries and Research Services designed LabArchives Forum 2020 to address all four stages of the implementation equation.

Educating potential users

While LabArchives is already available to all Columbia University members, most need to feel informed about the platform and supported in their usage, before committing to it. Usage is, after all, what makes an enterprise investment worth it.

On the day of the forum, the LabArchives team worked with a PI had become frustrated with Evernote, their chosen documentation platform. Without timestamps or versioning, who had done what with the data had become very unclear.

The researchers were also frustrated. They couldn’t access the data from more than one device without an Evernote upgrade. After a quick in-person demo, the lab realized that Columbia already offered a total solution: LabArchives. On the ground help was exactly what they needed to transition to a platform truly designed for their needs.

At the forum’s Health Sciences Library open house, LabArchives educated researchers and students alike on the platform’s benefits. Users can access their work anytime, anywhere and from any device. LabArchives fits in with increasingly digital lifestyles and gives students a leg up when it comes time to apply for jobs in ‘real world’ labs.

LabArchives team member, Hannah Clark, also hosted several training sessions for fledgling users and a lunch-and-learn session at Butler Library.

Hannah gives a quick thumbs up during a user training.

These events all gave end users a chance to buy-in on their own terms and get started with LabArchives in real time. Showing potential users how they might benefit, versus telling them to change their workflows lays the groundwork for an enthusiastic user community.

Supporting existing users

While at Columbia, LabArchives also worked with labs who had been comfortably using the platform for quite some time. One such lab had started using some of the platform’s more advanced widgets, like the freezer box, to manage inventory. Hannah held a mini widget workshop with this group to help them leverage these tools even further.

These tailored workshops also gave LabArchives a chance to educate existing users on new releases and upcoming developments. With these groups, Hannah shared information on the recently released SnapGene integration and upcoming scheduler and inventory capabilities.

LabArchives team members with Columbia users.

Getting user feedback

End users are LabArchives greatest source of intelligence when it comes to understanding how the platform actually works on the ground. Columbia chemistry professor, Joseph Ulichny, sat down with the team to discuss how he has used the platform for teaching, what has worked, what hasn’t and so on. His experiences and his ideas for new developments will inform LabArchives roadmap and product evolution.

These second and third phases of implementation are all about sharing knowledge. LabArchives educates existing users on how to best leverage the platform and users educate LabArchives on how to improve the overall experience. Users come to understand that real people are available to support them within the platform and it serves their needs better and better over time. It’s a positive feedback loop that really works.

And what’s next?

More of the same high-quality, implementation execution. As Hannah put it…

“More usage! More webinars and training sessions. Working with the library and Research Services on institutional policy, guidance documentation and promoting LabArchives across campus. Maybe a few more “advanced” sessions to cover things like widgets. Possibly creating templates and best practices recommendations for Columbia users, too!”

Until next time, Columbia!

Thanks to everyone at Columbia who helped plan this day including Columbia University Libraries and Research Services. Especially Halayn Hescock, Senior Director of Research Services, as well as Tshakeesha Ming, Jeremiah Trinidad-Christensen, Sameea Baig and Michelle Benson.