While continuous development and learning both as a team and on a personal level has always been an important focus at IGNIFI, over the last year, the ability to upskill quickly and effectively has been more important than ever. With the onset of rapid digital transformation witnessed across the healthcare and lifestyle sectors in 2020, new skills and new ways of working, particularly when it related to digital practices became essential.

For Learning at Work Week 2021, we wanted to showcase some of the ways that the IGNIFI team integrate learning and development into our work schedules, and how we have applied and shared these learnings with our clients.

Learning at IGNIFI

Company-wide training

As an agency, there have been certain times where our team as a whole, or large groups of us will undertake a particular form of training, usually for one of the following reasons:

1. To upskill the team in line with our future business goals.

In 2020, IGNIFI decided to expand its use and capability with Veeva, a cloud-based CRM system used extensively in life sciences to manage important processes, documents and data. As a Veeva Full-Service Content Partner IGNIFI already had highly capable members of the team who were Veeva-savvy, but we needed to provide an understanding of the services provided by Veeva on a general level by all members of staff, alongside more specialist knowledge on each Veeva app on an individual basis.

To achieve this, firstly we were taken through the basics of using Veeva in a series of group training sessions on Zoom. Then training plans were created for each employee, based on their job role, to ensure a distribution of knowledge on each of the Veeva apps across our team. We all then undertook Veeva’s training courses individually, gaining a certification in the apps set out in our plan. We now have staff accredited in business and technical certification for all of the key Veeva apps. We also have cross-functional groups set up within the business where members of our team work together on internal materials to enhance their Veeva skills and client offering.

2. To adapt to emerging trends in the industry.

As seen in this last year, industry trends and practices can change rapidly. A wealth of new skills, software and strategies have been introduced in response to this, but there are several key areas that we have found to be an important focus: social media, the development of apps and the incorporating of new technologies into existing materials.

As we have mentioned in previous blogs, particularly in the animal health or lifestyle and wellbeing sectors, more brands are embracing the use of social media for their marketing to fill the gap created by lack of in-person meetings. However, the difficulty here is with an oversaturation of the market. While you may be creating quality content, how do you make sure that it is seen by the desired audience? We have found that Google Analytics training courses and SEMrush Academy lessons on SEO for identifying key words are a great start for learning how to get the most out of your digital marketing strategy.

Digital transformation has also brought with it an increase in use of apps in the healthcare industry. Apps can be created as an additional resource for your brand, providing an easier way of accessing services such as patient information or a simple way to track symptoms. With an increasingly digitally aware audience that respond well to convenience, is there a way that you could introduce apps into your brand strategy?

Unfortunately, with an industry moving as fast as ours is toward new digital practices, sometimes we come across tasks that we, or even the software providers have not seen before, with no online training resources to tell us how to move forward. For example, we were recently asked by a client to incorporate a Veeva DSA into their website. While this would usually be a simple task, our client’s website was built using ReactJS, which is a relatively new method of website development. Upon contacting Veeva for support, we discovered that we were the only agency that they were aware of who were trying to attempt this. Not one to be defeated, we took the time to find a viable solution ourselves, re-writing some of the code provided by Veeva until we came upon a working solution in-house.

Finding this solution required a combination of trial and error, self-driven research, and collaboration from our digital team as even Veeva had yet to come across this specific issue. If our clients have a challenging task like this, we will try our best to work with the developers and discover a way forward, by taking a practical learning approach.

3. To make sure we are always working to the most up to date regulations.

For agencies working with clients in human healthcare, being aware of the latest regulations in the industry is essential for the reputations of both agency and client. In the UK, all pharma companies and any agencies that work with them should be aware of the regulations set out in the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) code, and only produce code-compliant materials that follow the ethos of working in a professional, ethical and transparent manner.

To make sure that the materials produced by our agency continue to be of the standard set out in the code, we undertake ABPI training sessions both to keep up to date with the latest regulation changes and to make sure new members of staff are given the appropriate training. Most recently, this training was in the form of a training day via a Zoom call and an online course provided by Jayne Packham Consultancy.

The Jayne Packham ABPI course was particularly helpful, using real-life examples of code breaches to demonstrate the application of key clauses within the ABPI code

Personal development

Alongside company-wide training opportunities, our team also aim to progress their knowledge when it comes to their own niche area, furthering their career development and becoming a champion of their particular job role.

This could either be in the form of recommended training agreed in our objective setting meetings which are in line with company-wide goals or learning opportunities that we identify ourselves. Whether this is putting aside time to get to grips with a new software or sitting in on a webinar to discover more about the latest trends in our field, we are encouraged to find new ways of expanding our skillset.

Providing the opportunity and resources for staff to not only progress in their existing roles but to take on other skills that are not strictly in their job description benefits the whole team, allowing job-roles to evolve with the industry rather than just being static, and gives us flexibility as an agency.

Online courses such as those offered by HubSpot, Google Analytics Academy and LinkedIn Learning cover a range of topics and can be particularly useful for individual learning

Using external resources to keep up with the industry

Alongside traditional skills, an awareness of the wider industry and how it is changing is an important aspect of our ongoing development, both individually and as a business that wants to be at the cutting edge of what we do. While the pandemic brought with it many challenges, the boom in digital transformation has made knowledge sharing within the industry easier than ever.

Where knowledge sharing was previously centred around physical conferences, these conferences have now moved online, alongside a wealth of expert-led one-off seminars. While physical distance, schedule clashes and travel costs would have often acted as barriers to these conferences in the past, more and more companies are providing online, free resources that can even be watched on demand. Hopefully, this is a trend that will outlast any global restrictions.

Some of our favourite sources for informative webinars and industry updates include Reuters Events, who provide both one-off webinars and full online conference experiences across a range of topics in healthcare and pharma, and Impetus Digital, who provide ‘fireside chats’ with guests from all sides of the industry in both video and podcast formats.

Alongside attending webinars and conferences, keeping up to date in your industry can be as easy as staying connected with a LinkedIn network of people in similar job roles, following relevant hashtags and reading the latest thought pieces, updates, and debates in the field.

What can we offer?

While online learning opportunities are widely available, we understand the pressure to keep up with a very fast-moving industry that is relying heavily on digital practices, and that both identifying the right training points to focus on and seeking out information yourself can be extremely time consuming.

In the past, we have delivered personalised knowledge sharing sessions for our clients, simplifying, and explaining key learning points specific to their individual business. This has included sharing our knowledge of maximising the impact of virtual events, measuring digital campaigns, and even working with the client to discover ways in which we can implement new digital practices into their existing work.

If these services sound like something you would be interested in, please get in touch

Posted by Rebecca Dargue
Health Science Content Writer

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