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Archive for September, 2012

I was recently asked by a consulting client to explain the value of making site visits to suppliers of digital platforms. I believe in the value, but until I started spelling it out in more detail, I didn’t realize just how important I know it to be!

While it may be appropriate to make vendor decisions for smaller projects based on a proposal and a client-site presentation, that approach is probably inadequate for larger-scale (and long-term) digital platforms. Over the years, I’ve seen some sub-optimal digital learning/communication platform decisions. The results are not pretty.

I thought I’d share my reasoning with you, in case you’re thinking about adopting a major platform (especially for use with iPad deployment – many are now looking beyond individual apps to multi-functional systems for meetings, comms, training, etc.). Your comments and insights are most welcome in the comments:

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Evaluating digital solutions providers can be complex. Generally speaking, for a smaller-scale point solution (say, a specific app), it is not necessary to perform a site visit. However, for a large-scale solution that will be a strategic and growing communications platform, it is often worth a deeper look under the hood at the technology, and the solution provider (who will become a long-term partner).

Site visits: Better solution/company evaluation process

The four aspects of the platform that need to be analyzed more deeply are:

  1. Technology framework of the solution – specifically, how the underlying software is designed, and what interface capabilities it has (and will have) at the middleware and database level to work within a larger enterprise structure. This typically involves direct discussion with people in a software engineering role.
  2. Roadmap of the platform – it is vital to have a detailed discussion of how and why the solution evolved into its current state, and what the development plan is for the next 3-5 years. A snapshot of a solution at one moment in time is less revealing than a view of its developmental context. Digital provider and platform direction need to align with anticipated client needs.
  3. Current functionality – general group presentations often gloss over details of what actually works (and how it works). A more meticulous advance examination can reveal platform strengths and weaknesses. It’s also important to determine what is currently rolled-out to living clients, and what is still in an earlier development phase.
  4. User experience – many solutions seem great on static slides, or with brief, scripted demonstrations, but the overall user experience (for end users, administrators, and managers) needs to be carefully examined in-depth. The quality of the interface design will make or break the adoption of any system.

In addition, deeper interaction with multiple personnel at a potential supplier site can give a clearer sense of the corporate culture and talent pool, which often cannot be accurately detected at a client-site presentation with a few representatives. In most cases, this type of decision is just as much about the partner company as it is the specific technology solution.

Site visits: Better decision-making process

A visit on-site by an expert makes the entire platform evaluation process more efficient by allowing in-depth assessment with a range of technical and strategic personnel – many of whom cannot be uprooted to be part of a client sales presentation. Also, potential suppliers that don’t make the cut can be eliminated in advance instead of creating a waste of client (& supplier) time and money going through an entire sales presentation/proposal cycle, only to be found unsuitable later. In addition, client-site presentations can be made much more efficient as a variety of detailed questions can be pre-answered through the prior provider-site visit.

Site visits: Summary

PROs

-More in-depth look at the “guts” of select platforms

-More complete evaluation of user experience

-Deeper assessment of leading potential provider partners

-Potential elimination (or escalation) of particular providers earlier in the process

-More efficient use of client and provider personnel resources during process

CONs

-Up-front time/travel investment (1 person) for site visits

What do you think? Does your company do site visits for these larger-scale platform decisions? And do you employ consulting expertise in the process?

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Impactiviti is the Pharmaceutical Connection Agency. As the eHarmony of sales/training/marketing, we help our pharma/biotech clients find optimal outsource vendors through our unique trusted referral network. Need something? Ask Steve.

Learn more about us here.

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Here is a listing of recent pharma/device/biotech job openings in training, for those who are interested:

Manager, Sales Training and Development, Sunovion, MA

Sales Training Manager – Oncology, EMD Serono, MA

Manager/Associate Director, Oncology Clinical Training & Development, Novartis, NJ

Manager/Associate Director, Sales Training (Oncology), Novartis, NJ

Sales Training Manager, Shionogi, NJ

Hospital & Specialty Sales Trainer, Daiichi-Sankyo, NJ

National Sales Trainer, Daiichi-Sankyo, NJ

Director, Talent Management, Daiichi-Sankyo, NJ

Senior Manager, Leadership Development, Daiichi-Sankyo, NJ

Manager, Medical Device Training and Communications, Ikaria, NJ

Sales Training Manager – Oncology, Astellas, IL

Sr. Manager, Training & Communication (Compliance), Abbott, IL

Manager of Sales Training, Vivus, CA

Manager/Sr. Manager, Learning Technologies, Roche/Genentech, CA

Note: Impactiviti has no connection to the hiring personnel in these companies. The links are posted strictly as a service. Apply directly to the companies according to directions given on their individual job postings.

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Impactiviti is the Pharmaceutical Connection Agency. As the eHarmony of sales/training/marketing, we help our pharma/biotech clients find optimal outsource vendors through our unique trusted referral network. Need something? Ask Steve.

Learn more about us here.

 

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I’ll be attending two pharma-focused conferences during the autumn months of 2012 (both in Philadelphia) – hope to see many of you there!

ePatient Connections has become one of my favorite annual events. I love the mix of speakers, and the emphasis on healthcare from the patient (not merely industry) perspective. Great lineup of presenters as usual, including Mark Bard, Kevin Kruse, Arnie Friede, Carly Kuper, Kerri Sparling, and many others. More information can be found here.

Digital Pharma East is a wonderful gathering of everything tech/digital/mobile in the pharma and healthcare world. I really like the fact that there is a dedicated mobile day on the 18th. This is a great event for learning and networking! More information here.

Both of these events are put on by the fine folks at exl Pharma.

ALSO – on November 8th, I’ll be presenting (in conjunction with the Society of Pharmaceutical and Biotech Trainers) a one-day Successful Vendor Management workshop, in Florham Park, NJ. If there’s one area that seems to be consistently left out of on-boarding training for managers (training, marketing, & communications), it’s how to spec out and manage a project, and how to select and manage outsource vendors. We’ll be covering all of that in a practical and actionable manner during this well-received workshop – please join us! More information and registration here.

_________

Impactiviti is the Pharmaceutical Connection Agency. As the eHarmony of sales/training/marketing, we help our pharma/biotech clients find optimal outsource vendors through our unique trusted referral network. Need something? Ask Steve.

Learn more about us here.

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