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Posts Tagged ‘pharmaceutical training’

If you could invest $10 to gain $100 (or to keep from losing $100), would you do it?

I would.

Especially if that same investment could keep my team from embarrassing failures and losses. That’s why we invest in training trainers in Project and Vendor Management Best Practices.

Putting training managers in charge of outsourced training development projects is risky business. Here are some of the common (& very expensive) failures that regularly arise:

  • Poorly-defined specifications that lead to scope changes (always more $$!)
  • Miscommunications with internal stakeholders and external vendors leading to missed deadlines
  • Choosing the wrong supplier for the project and ending up with a costly, sub-standard deliverable
  • Time and money lost trying to get an out-of-control project on track due to lack of clear process

benjaminsI worked on the vendor side for 10 years and saw first-hand how costly it can be to have people running projects who have never been trained in the basic principles of project and vendor management.

I have also served as a vendor/client consultant for almost 11 additional years, and I cringe to remember all the budget dollars I’ve seen floating out the windows of client training departments. One bad decision in just one year’s time can lead to losses of 20K, 50K, even 100K or more.

You’ve seen this happen before, right? Maybe multiple times.

What’s the solution?

Impactiviti offers industry-specific training for Vendor/Project Management. This targeted program (delivered either on-demand or live) is built specifically for Life Sciences training departments, and has been embraced by many top companies over the past 6 years.

We address all the money-saving best practices that lead to successful engagements with vendors. Here’s on overview of what we cover:

pm-outline

It’s time to put an end to lost training budget dollars and preventable mistakes that lead to project failures. Contact Steve Woodruff at Impactiviti (973-947-7429) to discuss the best investment for your training department.

ALSO: Five Compelling Reasons to Provide Project Management Training

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Here in the Life Sciences training arena, we have a steady flow of people moving from the field to the home office, often involving a rotation in Sales Training.

This can be a great thing for professional development.

However, one the areas of need often pinpointed for on-boarding and developmental training is Project/Vendor Management. See the graphic below:

pm-train-2

Why is Project Management competency so important? Here are 5 reasons:

  1. Sales people moving into roles of training/management have been trained in selling skills, but rarely in operational/process skills like Project Management.
  2. Managing projects and vendors is a high-profile activity involving lots of budget dollars. Failed execution can deeply impact the reputation of the trainer and the department.
  3. PM training equips training managers with communication skills, and collaboration strategies, that will carry over into all subsequent leadership roles.
  4. Those new to managing projects and vendors need proven tools, procedures, and frameworks in order to succeed.
  5. PM training provides a standardized set of processes and a common language so that the entire department can reinforce best practices.

Successfully managing projects and vendors is learning, in a collaborative environment, how to move an initiative forward from A to B. This is a much needed corporate skill, and should not be left to chance or good intentions. Focused training is required.

twoformspm

Of course, not all project management training is equal. Impactiviti has devoted years to developing and customizing modules that are precisely aligned to commercial life sciences training professionals. This training can be delivered live (on-site), or virtually (or both).

Contact us to discuss how we can help your department move toward best practices in project and vendor management (AskSteve@Impactiviti.com).

 

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How are they doing?

It’s the question we’re always asking in training. We want to know if development is occurring among our employees – but what about those who have moved up the ladder into sales leadership positions?

Turns out they need that feedback, too. And, at Gilead Sciences, Commercial L&D has implemented what are called RD Development “Touchpoints” to help Regional Directors know how they’re progressing in professional development (note: “Regional Directors” at Gilead are equivalent to “District Managers” at many other companies).

c-padovanoI asked Corey Padovano, Senior Director of Commercial Learning and Development, to outline how the process works.

Corey described the three phases of training for Regional Directors that Gilead has designed; Phase 1 is focused on understanding and leading yourself; Phase 2 on leading teams/direct reports; and Phase 3 on leading across the organization. Each of those phases has appropriate courses such as Emotional Intelligence, Situational Leadership, Influence without Authority, etc.

Typically, these phases of training occur as 3-day live events, with 6-9 month periods between.

So, how to gauge progress along the way? Gilead employs a 360-degree methodology to get unbiased feedback for these “touchpoints,” including:

-3rd party conversational interview with each RD

-3rd party conversational interview with Senior RDs

-Survey to direct reports

-Survey to peers/stakeholders

This information is aggregated, then presented in a constructive way to help RDs identify levels of progress. The touchpoint process refers to specific curriculum topics and asks for ratings on a simple 3-point scale:

  • Understands the material
  • Applies the concepts
  • Demonstrates mastery

A straightforward, 2-page report is generated. The process provides very specific feedback for Senior RDs to coach their charges, and provides the additional benefit of looping back input to the training department on how to optimize the curriculum for actual needs (business acumen and strategic thinking are popping up regularly).

Was there resistance? Some, at first – until the methodology was understood and the results generated. Now it is a much-appreciated part of the professional development process at Gilead.

With this approach now in place for RDs, future potential applications may include first-line and second-line leadership in HQ positions.

How is your company monitoring and encouraging the development of its field leadership? I’d love to hear your comments and input!

More in the Impactiviti Interview series:

Training Journey – From Major Pharma to Startup

Training for the New World of Specialty Pharma

Becoming a Consultant – Should You?

Two Keys to Successful Product Launches

Clinical Training Innovation at Depomed

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So, you want to be a consultant?

Who hasn’t put in a number of years “on the inside,” and then gazed out longingly at the world of paid consulting, liberated from all corporate restraints? The thought of trading out bureaucracy for free agency entrepreneurship seems irresistible at times.

It turns out that many of your colleagues have done just that.

georgeeOne of those is George Ericsson, whose career has progressed from sales representative (“pre-Revolutionary War era”); through various leadership roles in training (GSK, Wyeth, Pfizer); out into consulting with both small and larger training/consulting services firms; and, yes, working as a freelance consultant and contractor.

In other words, George has done it all. I’ve known George for quite some time, and as fellow entrepreneurs, we’ve brainstormed and commiserated regularly over the years.

I asked George for his input on what he’d want to share with a fellow training colleague thinking about the “greener pastures” of consulting. His advice is on point for anyone looking to launch a new business. Here are 5 main thoughts:

> Defining your area of expertise is critical. You can’t just hang out a shingle that says, “Consultant for hire.” That’s a lot like walking around with a sandwich board that says, “Will Work for Food.” Consultants (and all businesses) need to articulate precisely where they provide value, and exactly how they are going to make a tangible business impact. No-one hires you for simply being smart and experienced. Remember – people are looking for tangible answers to their issues. You have to be able to succinctly describe the pain relief you offer.

> Business Development is a major key to success. Just about every entrepreneur and consultant bemoans the fact that so much of their time has to be devoted to finding new work. Some really talented providers simply don’t have the skills to sell their services. Having a referral network can be a huge help here, but you should not assume that a network of “friends” and former co-workers will generate enough continuing income to pay your bills. This is also one reason why it is such a challenge to know how to price your services in the marketplace – you’re not just earning an hourly rate, you’re seeking to grow a business. Non-billable hours and sales efforts all have to be calculated in the cost of business.

> Finances can be really choppy. In most cases, you’ll be without a predictable paycheck. No annual bonuses. And benefits? That’s an expensive cocoon to replace. Cash flow ends up being an issue for almost every entrepreneur/consultant/contractor, and it’s risky to launch without a 3 to 6-month cushion of savings, and at least one guaranteed major client. If you have a spouse who earns a steady paycheck and has a benefit package covering your family, this can smooth out a lot of the wrinkles. This is probably THE number one concern I hear about, from all sorts of small businesses and consultancies.

> You may or may not be cut out for consultant/contractor life. Some take to it immediately and never turn back – the corporate setting was toxic to their soul. Others, however, wilt, not flourish, when working on their own. They have a high need for social contact, collaboration, and team energy. It can get very lonely on the other side of the fence. You have to avoid the temptations (golf, sleep, TV, Facebook, etc.) of not having to report to an office and boss every day.  I once counseled a solo consultant to get back into a corporate position, because their makeup and skill set really had much more to do with building/leading a team, than providing short bursts of outside expertise.

> Get ready for no (or fewer) support resources. In the cushy corporate world, there are Help Desks, expert fellow employees, and all kinds of other helpful infrastructure resources. Unless you’re working with a pretty large consulting firm, you’re going to have to do a lot of things yourself. Remember all that stuff other people on the payroll did for you? You’re the one making travel reservations, Staples runs and doing computer virus scans all by your lonesome now. Allocation of effort and time can be a lot more challenging when you’re on your own.

Everyone gets tired of the corporate rigmarole (“politics”) and it can seem very appealing to jump ship and sail out on your own. Some succeed in the endeavor, quite admirably. And there are major benefits to being out on your own or with a small consulting outfit. But I’ve seen many of these businesses from the inside, and I’ve lived the life for over 10 years. The word EASY does not come quickly to mind. Do you love/hate your job? Guess what – you’ll love/hate being a consultant! You trade one set of rewards and frustrations for another (sorry to burst that bubble).

I’ll add one item that I know George would affirm as well: if you’re thinking about making the move to being a consultant, get some solid career and business advice first. Over the years counseling many folks on this topic we’ve seen plenty of solo (and small) businesses fail for these and other reasons. It can be expensive launching out on your own, and in some cases, it can prove to be a career-limiting move if you change course and try to get back inside a corporate setting, especially if you assume that you will come in at the same job level and compensation.

One piece of advice that is always in season: build your professional network NOW. Actively cultivate relationships with great people inside and outside your company. They will most likely be your first customers if and when you go out on your own. Don’t forget to (re-)connect with former co-workers who have moved other other companies.

With that said, there are some really great, really smart consultants out there. Experienced consultants can provide their clients with a perspective that is lacking on the inside – they will have been inside a wide range of companies and can use that experience to help their clients build better solutions.

Remember, as a consultant, if you’re good at several things, but great at one thing, you stand a good chance of succeeding if you can promote your unique message to the marketplace.

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You have a product launch coming up – how do you get ready?

Early, says Bob Holliday, a veteran industry training professional who has been involved in training for over 30 launches. As early as 2-3 years before the anticipated launch, in fact, when budgets are beginning to be discussed.

bob-hollidayBob has worked his way up the training ranks with Novartis, MedImmune, Boehringer-Ingelheim, and Sanofi, and he has participated in product launches with long timelines…and very, very short ones! I asked him to share some hard-earned wisdom for colleagues who are facing their own product launch initiatives. We focused on two main subjects.

First, vendor selection. What is the best way to work with outside resources who will support a launch endeavor? Bob has settled on a two-pronged approach – select one vendor (with deep expertise in clinical knowledge and instructional design) to develop the core learning materials, and then also work with another vendor who will be responsible for the workshops and training activities for the pre-launch and launch timeframe.

Why two vendors? Well, it comes down to skill sets, and capacity. The skills needed to develop core learning modules have more to do with the steady and precise process of creating full-spectrum, approval-ready training. These materials can (ideally) be developed, iteratively and progressively, with the relative luxury of a longer time window.

On the other hand, the inevitable crunch that occurs just before launch requires a company that can move quickly, scale as needed, and turn on a dime as PI approval and marketing messaging often barely come in under the wire. Event companies, with rapid production skills, tend to shine in those panic-mode moments of overnight re-dos and tactical shape-shifting.

Bob has noticed what I have also seen over decades in the industry – event companies tend to be much better at live-meeting workshops and other launch events, but are often unable to maintain a full and well-rounded staff for the longer-term development of learning modules. On the other hand, many boutique training development companies simply do not have the capacity to execute rapidly-changing plans bumping up against a rapidly-approaching deadline. By letting each type of company focus on what they do best, the probability of success is increased.

So, having considered the vendor selection process, how much time do you need to properly plan and execute a launch? The short answer that everybody agrees on is: more than we’ve been given! However, depending on the nature of the launch (New company? New therapeutic area? New indication for existing product? Level of in-house expertise and resources?), the proper time frame might range between 9-12 months on the low end (an established company launching into a familiar area), up to 2 to 2.5 years on the high end. In Bob’s experience, very few companies budget enough time, enough money, and enough advance planning to make an outstanding launch.

(Note: if you’re launching with a co-promote partner, add even more time to the equation. And stock up on aspirin. You’re going to need it.)

This is sometimes because of a lack of company awareness of all the steps and variables leading up to launch, so I asked Bob to create a high-level chart showing the sequence of steps and events that need to occur for successful launch planning. Like an accordion, the actual timeline may be compressed or expanded, but everyone involved in launches should be pro-actively planning with this kind of framework in mind.

launch-sequence2

Because of the rotational nature of many marketing and training positions, and because there may be large periods of time between product launches, there is often a loss of corporate memory (and expertise) when a new launch sequence is initiated. Or, for new commercial companies making their initial foray into the marketplace, there may be no launch experience at all. This can lead to a compromised product launch due to poor planning and spotty execution. I met with one startup company recently whose initial product launch has resulted in very slow uptake, because the actual prescribing obstacles in the marketplace were simply not foreseen and planned for.

With the right level of time, resources, and planning, launch success can move from possible to probable. There is a great opportunity for training professionals to educate their executive leadership on just what is required to succeed.

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Recently, I sent out an email to my industry colleagues bemoaning how little innovation I was seeing in our training and development world.

Which led to an interesting reply from Glen Drummond (Senior Director, Learning and Development, Depomed), who mentioned something new they had initiated to better equip their sales reps. Depomed is a leader in the commercialization of therapies for central nervous system (CNS) conditions including pain.

GlenDrummond2.png

Intrigued, and already planning to be in the San Francisco Bay area for another client, I decided to visit Glen and interview him.

The business challenge was this: how to more deeply equip field reps (and managers) with clinical expertise in Pain Management arena. This is a common challenge in many therapeutic areas – not only is it no longer easy to arrange preceptorships, but time out of field for advanced levels of training is increasingly resisted.

Enter the AAPM Foundation (American Academy of Pain Medicine, which is devoted to optimizing the health of patients in pain by advancing the practice and the specialty of pain medicine).

It turns out that one of Glen’s senior executives at Depomed had been talking to the business development director at a convention with the Foundation, and the question arose about how to utilize some clinical/video assets that AAPM had already been developing. Once Glen was pulled into the discussion, the idea quickly evolved into a strategic alliance between Depomed’s L&D group and AAPM that would be a true win-win.

Depomed worked with the AAPM to develop a 12-module distance-learning program, consisting of archived videos and webinars that were the equivalent of physician-level clinical learning. The case study format is used extensively in this program. Each module has a required test at the end, and there is a summative exam that also must be passed at the end of the 6-month course. All results are tracked in the company LMS.

The webinars are led by KOLs and are not “dumbed-down” in the least – the learning is quite challenging and the exams are demanding (even Glen failed the first exam because he was trying to get away with multi-tasking while taking it!). The testimony from reps, managers, and directors who have completed the program thus far have stated their confidence level in the field has soared, and their physician interactions have improved, once they have had a chance to absorb this kind of practical, high-level knowledge.

Those who successfully complete the course – and over 300 field sales and leadership people have done so in 2016 – receive certificates of completion from both AAPM and Depomed, and are differentiated from other reps in the pain space by having the AAPM logo on their business cards.

What I like about this program, which now will be embedded in the normal course of Depomed training as a Phase II curriculum (following initial sales training of multiple phases), is that it does not require any time out of the field. Glen estimates that a motivated rep should be able to successfully complete the program with about 2-3 hours of dedicated time per month, without leaving their territory. And since the program is pulsed over 6 months, there is the opportunity for more effective absorption of the material with application of the learning.

One tenured rep remarked that he gained more clinical knowledge through this program than he had acquired in 10 years out in the field.

Now that all the material has been developed and archived, with only a modest amount of ongoing expense, the program can continue to provide value with (mostly) administrative support going forward.

Kudos to Glen and his colleagues at Depomed and AAPM for having the imagination, and the initiative, to pursue this joint venture. I have to believe that other commercial organizations can use this idea as a template for enriching their advanced clinical training in the years to come.

 

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I’ve had two client discussions this week that are leading me to write this blog post as a public service to all my professional training colleagues.

lockPlease beware of getting locked into proprietary software platforms!

I have a long history with technology-fueled training, and I understand the appropriate place for software development. Many new systems had to be developed from scratch over the past 20 years, and I enjoyed being a part of that evolution when working with Pedagogue Solutions back in the day.

However – the software world has matured now, and when it comes to training applications and delivery platforms, if you have a fairly complex need, such as learning management, content management, on-line video training, event management, HQ-to-field information exchange – there are very likely some commercially-built solutions that you can license.

In the vast majority of cases, you do NOT want to have a custom shop (or internal IT people) re-invent the wheel for you.

One of my clients had some modules developed a couple years back into some kind of proprietary eReader software. Now, when it comes time to update it, what happens? They’re either stuck with the original supplier (with a very high price tag), or they essentially have to extract the content and have the modules re-developed using a commercially-available authoring tool so that it can be maintained and updated in the future by anyone they choose.

Another client told me about a pretty complex platform that cost an arm and a leg to develop from the ground up. After consuming all kinds of time and effort, it never really got off the ground in its intended form – while there were other commercially-available platforms that could have been quickly deployed, and would have been supported in an ongoing way.

Some thoughts, based on many years of experience in the industry:

  1. Developing new, complex platforms and applications is extraordinarily difficult and time-consuming. It should be left to companies that specialize in platform design and support. License what already exists!
  2. Training development companies that happen to also do some digital stuff are absolutely NOT the companies you want to take on the creation of an ambitious complex-system platform. They won’t have the resources to do it right, or to support it. I am especially thinking about overly-ambitious marketing/advertising agencies, who like to say that they can do anything.
  3. Every sophisticated software platform takes 2-3 times as long, and costs 2-3 times as much, as you and your development partner initially think. Trust me on this.
  4. Supporting a sophisticated software system custom-created for one client is enormously expensive. On the other hand, when a commercial software shop – say, a Learning Management System vendor – is spreading ongoing development and support costs across a larger number of clients, then it becomes a viable business model.
  5. It’s not just about the immediate need. You must think about sustainability.

One other thing: whatever software platform you choose to use for whatever purpose, make sure that it is written into the contract that you always have full access to all of your content and data, in a usable and industry-standard format, including the ability to completely remove your “stuff” and migrate it to another system.

I don’t want to tell you how many times I’ve seen this lesson learned the hard way. And I’d like for you to avoid costly mistakes. So here is my offer, for any of my life sciences colleagues who are considering training software applications and platforms: feel free to reach out to me ahead of time and let’s brainstorm a bit. I’m quite serious about this. I don’t charge you anything for this kind of advice, and I want you to succeed.

Just send me a note: AskSteve@impactiviti.com. I’m glad to chat with you.

Fifteen minutes could save you…well, you know the rest of the ad!

15 minutes

 

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