It’s no secret that one of the biggest software migrations in the Pharma industry is approaching. On December 31st 2020, Veeva will decommission ZINC, the key industry platform for managing and distributing compliant, approved documentation and brand content for Pharma companies.

Are you ready to migrate?

Every company who uses ZINC will need to migrate to Veeva’s PromoMats or find another system. Some of the industry’s big names have migrated already, driven by the need to move significant amounts of data and re-train a global workforce operating in multiple markets. But what of the many smaller and mid-sized companies?

No rush, but Veeva themselves were recommending that companies commence migration to PromoMats as far back as August 2019. This would minimise disruption to productivity and mitigate the risk of non-compliant documentation being circulated to teams.

What makes PromoMats a gamechanger?

Aside from the promotional puff pieces, PromoMats does offer a more streamlined workflow system for the management of medical, legal and marketing documentation and an enhanced capability to manage assets. The bottom line is that PromoMats gives you:

· Enhanced search capability

· End-to-end audit trail

· Superior file storage (compared to Zinc)

· A brand management option to ensure everyone is using the same set of assets

· Bespoke filtering (so advanced users can personalise their view)

PromoMats is certainly a powerful next-generation tool, but the front end will look fundamentally different to seasoned ZINC users. It’s also Cloud-based, which means that it must be configured correctly before going live. And if you and your marketing and compliance teams have been using ZINC happily for years, changing over from any system that feels as comfortable as carpet slippers is going to pinch.

Veeva says that their system is so intuitive that training is relatively simple. Which it would be, if all end-users were alike. Anybody who’s ever managed a team knows that some people are early adopters, who find the possibilities of new, improved software exciting. Others are late adopters, and any change to their status quo can create anxiety. “I can’t do my job as well as I used to with the old system” is a familiar cry, but one that sometimes gets drowned out in the sound and fury of introducing new software.

Have I left it too late to make a smooth transition to PromoMats?

All ZINC licenses will expire on 31st December 2020 and from 1st January 2021 the system will be unsupported.

This does not mean, however, that Veeva are locking the door on your data, and throwing away the key. They are offering all users a one-off transfer of data onto an encrypted hard drive, so the data is safe. But that is only the start of managing such a seismic change.

Happily, there’s no such thing as “too little too late” when managing the transition from one software system to another. But – and it’s a critical but – the longer you delay in starting the changeover process, the larger the potential impact to your ROI.

It’s never too late to manage change

“Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have and underestimate the value of what they may gain.” J. Belasco & R. Sayer

When creating your change management strategy and training schedule, there are 4 key considerations:

· Budget

· Headcount and location of your team

· Methods of training

· Time.

Time. Not just the ‘go-live’ launch deadline, but time allocated to training before and after launch.

The key thing here is to have a training approach defined at the start of the project which supports the change management strategy, and also delivers the necessary skills so users feel comfortable using the new software.

Why is training often the last thing on the to-do list?

Large scale migration projects are usually led by the IT team. Understandably, they want to make sure that the system is up and running smoothly before the new drivers get behind the wheel. The last thing on their list is often training the end-users. Sometimes, the initial hands-on training session is the first introduction that end-users have to the system.

What sets a great change management programme apart from a good one is end-to-end support for those users. Giving them sight of the new software and its advantages early on in the changeover process – and being candid about what PromoMats can and can’t do – will help allay fears and anxieties. Lack of communication may make people cover their ears to the benefits and resist the change rather than embracing it. More change management upfront will always make the transition easier.

Prioritising training is a must. Your end-users are vital stakeholders; securing their buy-in has the potential to either make or break your PromoMats migration.

And it’s never too late to train!

Face-to-Face or F-2-F training was always considered the Rolls Royce of training, and it is certainly a powerful tool. But in the post-Covid world, and particularly if you have a workforce that is now operating remotely, eLearning is your fastest, most flexible and effective option.

It is a self-led training discipline, meaning end-users can access training materials on-demand, whenever they need to and wherever they are. It’s transformed the way in which training is delivered and used.

Digital training materials are available in a variety of formats – from video content to downloadable Quick Reference Guides (QRGs) and can be tailormade for your teams. These are available on demand and can be reviewed and consulted by end-users at any point before AND after launch.

BrightAffect is developing a generic suite of e-learning content which will be available at the end of the year and will cover the standard features and functionality of PromoMats. So, even if you are reading this in November 2020, you can still access clear, concise and honest guides on how to use the new system. It’s not a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card, but it’s an emergency parachute if you find yourself up against the decommissioning deadline with just 2 weeks to go.

The other very powerful weapon at your disposal is the concept of Train-the-Trainer.

It’s often easy for managers to spot the potential in-house trainer on their team. The employee who is the ‘go-to’ person for everyone else’s software questions. Creating a role for them as the PromoMats in-house trainer both recognises and rewards a valued skill. People can speak more freely to them about the gaps in their training rather than to their line managers. It’s a very effective way to make skills stick long after launch day.

Constant refreshes are required to manage change

Really effective software training is a long-haul flight, not a short hop. Modern software evolves at a rapid pace and you have to manage that continual change.

Veeva are planning three major, annual platform updates to PromoMats. That’s not to mention the smaller, ongoing UX & UI ‘tweaks’ that are likely to be on the development roadmap.

You may be reading this and feel that you are one step ahead of the game, since you have already migrated. But is that the end of the story? Are you hearing rumbles from your front-line troops that the real life experience of using the software is throwing up new questions not covered during training? It’s impacting productivity, and staff morale, as well as ROI.

If your training took place some months ago, some parts of it will inevitably have been forgotten, or need recapping to ensure knowledge is embedded. Initial training programmes are essential, but not an end in themselves.

The global pandemic brought the world economy to a near standstill for three months. But just because we effectively ‘lost’ three months of preparation and planning for one of the biggest changes to the Pharma

industry, doesn’t mean that we are three months behind. In that period, we have learnt to embrace remote working and remote learning. We have been managing change on an unprecedented scale – migration to PromoMats shouldn’t give us too much of a migraine.