Session 4: Incorporating Standard Content into Your Program

With growth, you must support new learning needs of different groups. Incorporating standard content libraries is an important part of expanding a program.

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Hi, everyone, Kent Malmros, Senior Director of Vault Training at Veeva Systems, joined once again by my good friend, John Constantine, SVP at Orchestrall, for what I think is maybe our fourth topic in this virtual fireside chat series on key topics in life sciences training.

And John, today I want to dig just a little bit into the use of standard content. This is something we touched on previously. It’s a topic that I think can cause confusion for a number of reasons, and a lot of companies, particularly growing companies, start with training on things like control documents, SOPs, policies, but as they grow their learning plan, they figure they need to incorporate libraries of content, so let’s start there.

How does a company know when it’s time to add standard content libraries to their selection?

Well, it’s usually dictated by a need. Somebody comes to the training group and says, “Hey, do you have anything on XYZ topic,” and trainer goes out and looks for potential suppliers and finds there are lots of choices out there of content libraries you can buy in any category.

My advice to those companies would be a lot of times when an expenditure needs to be made on something like this, you need to write a business case and justify the funding. And one of the ways to justify that funding is price per title would be one. So I’ve seen catalogs out there with literally 20,000+ titles in them. You pay one flat fee for those titles and use so that the price per title seems to be really low. When you have a blinding array of content like that though, the usage, once you buy it, tends to be really low because it’s complex, it’s confusing, it’s hard to find things. And so the price per use ends up being really high because the usage is low.

And so what I’ve found is being much more targeted in your selection of the catalog makes a lot more sense, so the price per title might be a little higher, but it gets higher usage so the unit cost of usage is much lower.

Yeah, I can’t agree with you more. I remember so many times I’ve talked to companies and they say, “Yeah, I have this great catalog of 4, 500 titles,” and then they go back and they do some analytics and they realize they’ve used maybe 12 or fewer of them as some type of assignment.

So when you think about all these providers and you mentioned there are certainly a number of them out there, many package e-learning and many provide that sort of standard 60-minute asynchronous training course, and now, others are doing video or microlearning assets or recorded classroom sessions. How do you think about evaluating those different types of modalities? How does that, maybe in some way, shape, or form, influence the decision-making process?

Yeah, I think… we’ve alluded in a previous topic about the microlearning trend and the fact that we all learn better with small doses that are reinforced over time, so that should factor into your selection process. But I would not discount other formats of content just out of hand because once in a while, a group of 10 or 15 or 20 pre-recorded webinars are actually really good because they’re timely, and it’s a good subject matter expert and a good topic.

So again, it’s the need to think strategically about where you’re suggesting and just because a person or a department that you support needs a particular kind of content, doesn’t mean everybody in the company does. So it’s prudent to step back and think strategically and get the biggest bang for your buck out of the purchase.

Yeah, you’ve to alluded to this a few times and maybe I want to take a step back because it’s an important point, right? Often, the decision to go out and look for standard content is about subject matter expertise, right? And so policies or procedures that define how someone does a job internally, what they need to do in terms of a location or a facility, those are things that you can create internal subject matter expertise around, but topics that are more about regulatory guidance like introduction to GMP or GCP or GLP or any GXP topic that have broader implications, I think often are the starting point, and it is situational, but maybe in your experience and certainly, with emerging companies right now, where do you often see that first need evolve, and where is the hardest topic maybe to develop that internal subject matter expertise that people should think about?

Well, I tend to often subscribe to a borrow-by-build philosophy. So you should always… particularly in larger companies where a purchase probably already has been made, you’re not the first one to think of this. Where you are, you should look around your company first to see if there’s something that’s already been purchased you can borrow.

If there’s nothing there, then you can then look to see if you can buy something off the shelf. Again, that doesn’t always work. Sometimes, for things that are relatively standard and widespread, such as GCP refresher, for instance, annual GCP refresher, there are multiple suppliers you can buy that from. Pick one that fits with you better. They’re all really, really good.

And then as the last resort, you can then go to build the content if you have the internal subject matter expertise, and that sometime fits really well with somebody who may be an internal medical expert on a particular topic. You can buy an entire video recording suite now for under 5K and develop something that’s really nice.

Perfect. I think that’s such good advice and really where I wanted you to go because so often when people think about standard content libraries, they immediately get stuck on the idea of e-learning and you made so many good points about oftentimes there’s a consultant that’s been hired and they develop an instructor-led session that can be repurposed, and there’s so many different ways to think about developing that content. That’s exactly what people should take away from this, so…

[crosstalk 00:06:27]…. let’s wrap up this topic. Go ahead.

There’s one other thing too is if you’re going to bring that consultant in to do that live course, which is sometimes the best way to do something, have a few of your trainers sit in and arrange with that supplier, that consultant to do a train-the-trainer so that then you can redeliver that content yourself in the future.

Yeah and think about that. You’re now developing subject matter expertise. You’re developing expertise around different forms of developing content and of course, that goes into your learning strategy.

We’ve talked about it twice now. I think it’s time for us to dedicate a full topic to microlearning, so please come back and join John and I for another virtual fireside chat. Our next topic will be microlearning. Thanks for watching this one. We’ll talk to you then.

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