Part one of a two-part blog
Lessons Learned from Co-Developing a Learning Management Update with a Top-10 Pharmaceutical Company
Kimberly Gardner, Associate Director And Nicholas Greaves Tunnell, Product Manager from IQVIA Technologies
May 13, 2019

“Defer your initial judgement and desire to problem solve, and spend your time listening instead.” Nicholas Greaves-Tunnel, product manager, is seated next to Kimberly Gardner, associate director, and Lesley Freese, director of operations, all from IQVIA Technologies. He’s speaking about what’s most important when first setting out to co-develop a new update with a client.

Specifically, Nicholas is referencing his experiences learned during the design and implementation of the IQVIA Learning Management System’s (LMS) cross-trial update. Introduced in late 2018, the cross-trial update enables sponsors and CROs to push training to all site personnel at once, regardless of trial, country, therapeutic area or role. Conversely, it tracks all training previously completed by sites, so that they no longer need to repeat previous trainings on new studies.

By all accounts, the update was a success. Both IQVIA Technologies and the client were pleased with the result, as were the client’s sites. In addition, the release made a splash in the market, generating interest from sponsors that were struggling with training their site personnel.

However, the road to success was not without great effort. Both IQVIA Technologies and the client worked hard to ensure the update was intuitive, efficient, and beneficial to sites and study teams alike. Along the way, the LMS team identified numerous lessons. As a result, they’ve decided to share them in written form, and in a new IQVIA podcast called StoryTellers, so that any organization heading down a similar path can benefit.

Please note that this is part one of a two-part blog, which summarizes the lessons learned during the co-development of the cross-trial update for IQVIA LMS.

Ensure that users who are testing new updates are already well-versed with the existing system’s functionality

The testing period for a new update is often hectic. It’s during this time that new features, code, and functionality are all being stressed for the first time. Thus, it’s crucial that users who are testing the system are well-versed with the system. Inexperienced system users will need time to familiarize themselves with the system first, spending less time testing the update. They’re also more likely to outreach to system administrators with requests that are more about core features, instead of new functionality.

In addition, well-versed users are typically better equipped to describe any issues they encounter, including the exact actions they took prior to the issue’s occurrence, or why a new feature does not work.

With the cross-trial update, the client’s testers were so well-versed with the existing system that they identified numerous small tweaks and efficiencies that would not have been implemented otherwise.

Create a centralized team for testing and using the new functionality

Over the course of development, the client streamlined their LMS team and process, centralizing everything under one area. This was extremely beneficial, as it standardized all processes and communication between our two organizations, removing many of the roadblocks traditionally encountered with a more siloed approach. It also allowed the clients to compile and send all feedback at once, removing duplicates, while streamlining and prioritizing their biggest issues and requests.

In this instance, the client benefitted by continuing to use the same centralized approach to manage their entire learning management program once the cross-trial update was live. They reported that this alleviated many previous issues, as they now had a central authority for assigning, tracking, and managing site training.

Lay the appropriate groundwork for a successful update or feature launch with face-to- face kick-off meetings

Much like previous updates and implementations, the IQVIA LMS team began the design of cross-trial with a series of face-to-face kick-off meetings. It’s during these kick-off meetings where the groundwork is laid for any successful update.

As Nicholas’s introductory quote illustrates, organizations should quell any preconceived notions and instead bring an open mind that seeks to understand the mindset of the user. This helps organizations build a feature set that accommodates the target audience. Some good examples of questions are:

  • What are the users’ main issues?
  • What are their goals?
  • What do they need to accomplish their goals?
  • What do they want to physically see, and where and when?
  • What are the metrics and reports needed from the solution?
  • How do they flow through the system when operating?

Gaining a firm understand of needs, workflow, and goals allows teams to re-group after the meeting and understand any impacts to the system architecture and flow, as well as how to correctly phase in the implementation.

Establish a relationship that allows constant honest interaction and adjustments

After the face-to-face meeting, organizations should continue to foster relationships with their client testers. Keeping lines of communication open is important as it enables organizations to push early builds and develop a feedback loop. Often, early builds are key in highlighting budding issues, or solutions that are less than ideal. This is crucial as every aspect of the system should be course correctable during development. Thus, continuing to foster an open and honest relationship built on feedback loops ensures that the best possible product makes it to market.

Stay Tuned!

In part two of our blog, we’ll break down the second episode of StoryTellers, providing more lessons learned over the course of our LMS co-development. If you wish to hear a more in-depth explanation from Lesley, Kimberly, and Nick, please check out episode one of our latest podcast, StoryTellers, at

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