Lab Operations | Managing the Lab | Tech Stack

10 Tips for Scaling Your Lab Operations

When the goal is growth, building a scalable lab ops tech stack is critical. In a recent webinar, Joel Basken, Director of Operations, and Nicolette Surges, Lab Manager at Enveda Bioscience, a startup based in Colorado, shared invaluable insights and lessons on optimizing lab operations for scalability.

Enveda’s story: A real-life example of a scalable tech stack

The right tech stack for each startup varies, but Enveda has found success with the following solutions:

  • Lab supply procurement: ZAGENO
  • ERP: Netsuite
  • Project management: Jira
  • Equipment and asset management: Qualer
  • Environment monitoring: Monnit
  • Building security: Verkada
  • Chemical inventory and SDS tracking: ChemInventory

Enveda's journey began in 2019 with five employees operating out of a leased warehouse and an improvised lab setup. Since then, they have expanded significantly, growing to 250 employees and transitioning to a new facility. Along the way, Enveda has curated a tech stack that proved instrumental in overcoming numerous challenges, such as resource constraints, inefficiencies in lab supply procurement, and change management.

people working in an Enveda lab

Enveda's lab operations, circa 2021

10 tips to future-proof your lab: Lessons learned from Enveda’s journey

  1. Plan and overcommunicate rollouts and major changes. Startups improvise as they grow, leading to the formation of bad habits. Operational processes must be continuously modified as the company evolves. To avoid a disruption in operations and growing stakeholder resistance, make sure to thoroughly plan and overcommunicate about rollouts of new solutions and processes.
  2. Reach out to your network or vendors for recommendations. As a startup, it's important to admit when you need help, don't know where to start, or which questions to ask. When facing uncertainties, don't hesitate to seek counsel from your network or trusted vendors. Building a network of reliable resources is key to gaining momentum and managing unforeseen obstacles.
  3. Address short-term challenges with an eye on the future. In the haste to scale, startups quickly incur technical debt.

    What is technical debt? Technical debt is defined as the accumulated cost of quick fixes and workarounds in software development. It comes in many forms, such as code complexity and outdated tech, all of which can constrain scalability and growth.

    To minimize technical debt, consider how current quick fixes will impact scalability and adaptability.
  1. Be aware that systems requiring manual data input will be inaccurate. Processes relying heavily on manual input are susceptible to errors, posing serious regulatory and data integrity risks. In the short-term, reduce risk by limiting the number of users accessing these systems. Longer-term, invest in automated data capture and management solutions to ensure accurate and reliable data for decision-making, compliance, and investor due diligence.
  2. Realize that not all homegrown solutions are bad or unsustainable. Enveda has found success with certain homegrown solutions, as some off-the-shelf alternatives were created for different industries or offer unnecessary features. It’s okay to keep homegrown solutions as you grow, provided they are continually monitored to ensure that they’re not creating long-term issues.

    What is a homegrown solution? Homegrown solutions refer to custom-made or internally developed systems and processes tailored to address company-specific needs. They don't always involve coding or building complex systems from scratch, often leveraging existing tools available in the lab, such as Google Suite or other familiar platforms. While some companies may have access to a software engineering group to develop more sophisticated solutions, startups typically start with preexisting tools to manage issues as they build and grow their lab. While homegrown solutions can be effective in some cases, continued use may limit scalability and hinder long-term growth.
  1. Demo before buying and set up a sandbox, if possible. Before investing in a software tool, it's important to understand its user interface and ensure it aligns with your specific needs. Sandbox environments allow you to test functionality, explore features, and assess compatibility with existing systems, before making a commitment.
  2. Be wary of vendors who overpromise and underdeliver. Some software vendors may exaggerate the capabilities or benefits of their solutions. It’s critical to conduct thorough due diligence, seek references, and clarify expectations during the selection process. Choose vendors with a track record of reliability, transparency, and customer satisfaction.
  3. Decentralize lab supply ordering. Decentralizing lab supply ordering through ZAGENO has been a game-changer for lab operations at Enveda. By bypassing the need for a dedicated procurement team, they've streamlined processes and avoided potential bottlenecks. With teams empowered to place orders directly, operations run more smoothly. ZAGENO's dashboard offers oversight, ensuring efficient supply management across the board.
  4. Learn how to decide whether to bail on the system or not. Sometimes, software investments don’t turn out as expected. In such cases, it's okay to eat the costs, cut ties, and move on. While accepting sunk costs can be tough, sticking with a system that falls short of expectations will only compound long-term issues. Prioritize the best interests of your scientific team, even if it means parting ways with a system that didn't meet your evolving needs.
  5. Control spend and reduce time spent ordering and tracking with a lab supply marketplace.

Enveda’s decision to implement ZAGENO as their marketplace solution stemmed from the diverse scientific work performed across their teams. With eight distinct teams engaged in varied research endeavors, the overlap in shared equipment was minimal and materials, even consumables and reagents, differed significantly between labs. Enveda sought a fluid solution that could quickly pivot in response to changing research requirements, as well as facilitate the decentralization of the ordering process for greater efficiency and flexibility.


  • Offers enhanced product choice of 40+ million items from 5,300 global brands
  • AI-aided identification of qualified, in-stock alternatives in the face of backorders
  • Shortens procurement cycle time with automated RFP and custom approval flows
  • Allows centralized tracking and invoicing
  • White glove customer service support

“We've got a good tech stack here, but using ZAGENO for all of our ordering and tracking has been fantastic.” – Joel Basken, Director of Operations, Enveda BioSciences

Future-proof your lab operations

Scaling lab operations requires careful planning, strategic decision-making, and a willingness to adapt and evolve. By implementing these tips and leveraging insights from Enveda Bioscience's journey, you can overcome challenges, optimize processes, and achieve sustainable growth in your lab operations. The key to minimizing negative impacts on outcomes is to curate a tech portfolio that not only serves your current needs but grows with you on your journey.

For a personalized demo of how ZAGENO’s lab supply ordering solution forms the cornerstone of an optimized, scalable tech stack, contact us today.

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