Because the biomedical field is so heavily regulated, one of Nektar’s greatest challenges is keeping up with industry and government standards, which are often complex and frequently altered. To keep up, not only are company employees in training continually, but also the learning programs that they use are continually updated. “The content is modified nightly, so it is very accurate and very relevant,” said Heidi Rebottaro, project manager of application development at Nektar. “These training (programs) are revised on a monthly basis. The average person at Nektar has an average of 15 to 20 training classes that they are required to take every year. Imagine 900 people with 15-plus training classes each. It’s a nightmare just to manage how compliant we are.”
“Typically, training is classroom-setting,” she said. “If it’s a change to an existing application, CBT (computer-based training) would be the way we’d go. If it’s a new technology, it’s one-on-one training or seminar-type training followed by one-on-one help. We have various different ways of handling that.”
Until recently, Nektar had problems of efficiency with standardization and delivery of training programs, Rebottaro said. “We had a training department with about five people who would enter training requirements into a system. Reports would then be manually printed and given to the managers. Then it was left up to the managers to make sure that their staff was adequately trained in time. They were overwhelmed.”
However, the company modernized its system early last year, which streamlined the process to an enormous extent. “We took that system and put an interface on it, which we built into our portal,” Rebottaro said. “We personalized our portal using IBM WebSphere technology. An end user can log into the system, which we call Galileo. It knows who they are, it brings up all the information that is relevant to that employee, and the person can start working.” She added that by logging on to the training page, individuals see their training history and delinquencies, and can use links to access information and sign-up functions for classes they lack. In addition, users can connect with the training department through e-mail or live chat to ask questions or make requests.
“It’s a very comprehensive, wonderful application,” said Rebottaro, and added that course enrollment was boosted immediately after classes were added to Galileo. “The compliance to the training is more efficient. That tells me that people are using the tool, they are interested in staying compliant, and they are interested in getting trained.”
Rebottaro offered hard numbers that demonstrated the tool’s effectiveness. “Prior to Galileo, people would check for the delinquencies manually. If they had a new training class, it would typically take about two-and-half months for people to become 95 percent compliant with that training. After Galileo rolled out, it took half a week to get the same amount of people compliant. That is because they knew of the requirement. In the training page, it shows percentage of compliance.”
Galileo also shows management the level of compliance employees have attained, making the flow of information through the organization much quicker. “Reports are automatically generated instantly to management, not only to the first-level manager, but all the way up to the CEO,” Rebottaro said. “The latest (new feature) was dynamic reporting, where the CEO at any time can look up who is compliant and who’s not.”
Rebottaro said that Galileo also has improved employee learning indirectly, by freeing up the training department to develop more content faster. Now, instead of having five people manage compliance and support issues, it only takes one. “I can see that there’s less frustration,” she said of the training department. “They’re more effective. We’ve had zero questions about how to use it because it is so user-friendly.”