Why eLearning solves the manufacturing / training dilemma.

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The GMP elearning business case

Technology now seamlessly permeates our daily lives. Social networking has changed the way we communicate, and smart phones have placed the world’s information at our fingertips. Improvements in graphical user interface technology now makes it easy for a five-, or eighty-five, year-old to easily swipe through digital content.

So it would seem that online GMP training makes good business sense, but it is still not used extensively in the pharmaceutical or medical device industries.

Why do we want to hang on to old school training? Perhaps the main reason for slow adoption of online training is trust. Has industry been fearful of the costs involved with computer systems validation? Has regulatory burden made pharmaceutical manufacturers nervous of online GMP training?

New starter and annual refresher training is a GMP requirement. We could use a specific example of an operator working in a tableting plant, who needs new starter training and annual refresher training but let’s look at the big picture instead. There’s a quote floating around on the internet that goes something like this:

A CEO and Finance Director (FD) were talking:
The FD asked the CEO, “What if we spend all this time and money on our staff and they leave?”
The CEO responded, “What if we don’t and they stay?”

In our competitive labour market attracting and retaining talent is incredibly hard. We all want to have highly skilled, well trained and motivated staff. Over the years it has become evident that not only are highly trained staff properly equipped to perform their role, but they are energised after receiving good training, are less likely to leave, and enjoy higher levels of professional confidence and personal job satisfaction.

Training pays and eLearning can be a cost-effective tool to motivate and energise your staff. The compliance tick is a consequential benefit.

Whilst there are GMP issues common to all plants, like accuracy of records, good hygiene, deviations, change control, etc., we have to acknowledge the significant difference between sterile and non-sterile manufacturing. Therefore this discussion will concentrate on common GMP issues within the thousands of non-sterile Oral Solid Dosage (OSD) plants in the world, expanding on the specific value adding scenarios based on eLearning vs classroom training. But first we’ll set the scene.

The 3 biggest training barriers

As experienced consultants, working at the coalface of life science industries, we’ve observed many issues associated with disparities in understanding when it comes to working in these GMP regulated environments. Human error poses the biggest risk in terms of safety and compliance, yet still training is overlooked as the most effective way to minimise human error and improve regulatory understanding.

Why is training overlooked? Usually because of three main concerns:

  1. Time
  2. Money
  3. Expertise

PharmOut is in the business of offering solutions for companies seeking to gain a competitive advantage. We realise the practicalities of instructor-led training isn’t always the most convenient or viable option. For this reason we offer eLearning as a cost-effective alternative method of training that addresses the three main concerns associated with training provision.

Let us elaborate:

Time

According to the latest latest ABS survey of labour mobility in excess of 50% of Australian workers have been in their current job for less than five years. Approximately one quarter of Australian workers experienced a change of job in the last 12 months. Research indicates people change jobs on average every three years. An average of 2.6% of the Australian workforce is absent due to illness on any given work day.

Now consider this; if you have 100 employees it would be reasonable to assume that 30 of those will experience a change in employment circumstances within the next year and at least 2 or 3 will be absent from work right now.

When it comes to managing a training programme, statistics like these paint a favourable picture of eLearning.

Money

Money is perhaps the number one concern. Many people only examine the cost saving aspect and ignore the return on investment (ROI) aspect of eLearning, such as staff operational performance. According to a Merrill Lynch study, Motorola estimated that every $1 spent on training delivered $30 in productivity gains within three years.

In terms of cost saving though, eLearning stacks up well. In some cases it is estimated that up to 40% of every dollar spent on traditional training is spent on travel costs (Merrill Lynch, the Book of Knowledge, 1999).

Our own course costing demonstrates that eLearning can yield considerable cost savings over traditional classroom based training. The scenario above supports the findings of many reputable studies into the cost savings associated with eLearning.

Expertise

Training and education often end up at the bottom of organisational priorities. It should be at the top. Without a training program, people learn from trial and error, what they observe around them, and what they draw from prior experience. “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” (Vince Lombardi).

PharmOut training content is created by subject matter experts (SMEs) and professional instructional designers, with years of industry experience and extensive knowledge of GMP regulations. They respectively have hands-on experience in meeting audit and inspection requirements, and a background knowledge in adult learning theories with a demonstrated aptitude for teaching and training. An independent white paper compiled by a recruitment firm (Hays) in 2011 found that organisations with good internal and external training systems in place not only had better skilled staff but they retained staff and reduced turnover.

Key points – the eLearning value proposition:

  1. Down time is minimised, keeping things running
  2. ELearning can serve as induction training for new employees starting
  3. Workforce knowledge can be brought to a common basic level
  4. With 12 months access, eLearning content can serve as an ongoing reference tool
  5. Breakdowns etc. can be viewed as an opportunity to do on demand training
  6. Employees do not need to be sent off site, eLearning is location independent, training can take place anywhere
  7. Content is standardised and consistent, the same training and consistent messages are delivered to all
  8. Productivity isn’t compromised, eLearning utilises small time increments
  9. The focus is on training that is needed, with unlimited reach to learners
  10. ELearning is more than just text, it is fully narrated, interactive and engaging
  11. There are numerous cost savings in comparison to traditional forms of training; travel, accommodation, trainer time, facility and equipment cost, paper and materials, time away from production
  12. Certificates are generated with unique validation numbers for audit purposes, these can be stored electronically, and training is time stamped
  13. ELearning meets the needs of diverse learners, and is associated with less stress as study can be completed at the users own pace with no pressure from others
  14. Trainees are able to spend more time on concepts that aren’t familiar and can skim through those that they are more acquainted withConclusion
    In many instances eLearning wins hands down over classroom training when it comes to cost, in both time and monetary value! Technology is woven into the fabric of daily living, often completely invisible, we trust it without question on a daily basis. In relation to eLearning what if, for a moment, we forget the technology and just consider the training component in isolation. When viewed in this way it becomes an uncomplicated service that can be delivered immediately. ELearning isn’t about technology, it’s about learning and development using technology.

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