When you have a global footprint spanning every time zone, there’s no such thing as working from “9 to 5.” You just have to know how to work the clock. That’s the idea behind our Follow the Sun initiative. By creatively leveraging our global footprint, we can trim days off of your overall study times by providing around-the-clock support services.
Lisa Biegel, Vice President and Global Lead, Safety Assessment Study Direction, Reporting and Data Management, shares a prime example of how this works to your advantage. “If it’s late in the day in the UK and our technical staff needs to make a change to be implemented the next day, we actually have people in the U.S. that are still working. They can make that change to the database so the team in the UK can walk in at six o’clock in the morning and it’s ready to go,” explains Biegel.
In 2020, we started expanding the Follow the Sun initiative to our Labcorp Drug Development site in India. By the end of 2021, we aim to add a team of approximately 100 nonclinical specialists to support our lab sites and your studies around the world with data entry, analytics, quality reviews and reports.
Traditionally, these roles are located in the same facility as the labs they support. One of the disadvantages of this setup is it restricts you to the set space and local talent available. As a result, we had to get innovative in finding the room and the people power to accommodate your increasing study demand.
The COVID-19 pandemic shattered the traditional staffing paradigm. Like so many other industries, we learned that our nonclinical study support staff is just as effective working remotely as they are at the lab office, in some cases even more so.
In many ways this wasn’t a surprise. If you look at some of the other investments we’re making, you’ll see that we’ve been digitizing much of the data and tools our support staff work with on a daily basis. COVID-19 revealed an unintended benefit of this transformation. It showed us that the study support work can be done remotely—and essentially from anywhere. It simply made sense and aligned well to delivering with the urgency you expect.
So, why India? Geographically, it has the benefit of being well-positioned between the rest of our Asia-Pacific sites and our European sites. It is the perfect complement and fit time-zone-wise to our staff that already exists around the world. More importantly, Labcorp infrastructure is already there.
Our 200,000 square foot Labcorp India facility is already home to nearly 6,000 employees. We not only have desks and computers in place. We also have training programs that are easily adapted for nonclinical functions for our early development staff. “Having an infrastructure in place already, enabled us to get set up and fully operational in a matter of months as opposed to years if we were to start from scratch at a brand new location,” says Jamie Stevens, Director of Business Transformation for Early Development.
“India has given us access to a new pool of highly technical, well-trained and talented people.”
– Lisa Biegel, Vice President and Global Lead, Safety Assessment Study Direction, Reporting and Data Management
The decision to expand our nonclinical expertise to India was about people just as much as it was about capacity. Our new nonclinical specialists are highly degreed, many with PhDs and MBAs with relevant background in data entry, SEND analytics, pharmacokinetics and quality review as well as knowledge of study systems such as Pristima™ and Savante® and visualization tools and languages such as Spotfire®, Tableau® and Python®. “At certain sites, there’s very low unemployment and very high competition for top talent,” says Biegel. “India has given us access to a new pool of highly technical, well-trained and talented people.”
“It’s the alignment of common practices and systems, which means you can have someone pick one task up in one location and when they clock off, you can have that same task picked up somewhere else. That only works when everyone operates in the same way in all of our locations like we do.”
– Chris Clare, Vice President, Global QA
While working during a global pandemic was the catalyst for shifting to a Follow the Sun model, we’ve been laying the groundwork for years by digitizing and harmonizing all of our processes and systems. “It’s the alignment of common practices and systems, which means you can have someone pick one task up in one location and when they clock off, you can have that same task picked up somewhere else. That only works when everyone operates in the same way in all of our locations, like we do,” says Chris Clare, Vice President, Global QA. “The fact that we are able to do this underscores how consistent we are in the way we do things and I think this will help drive even more staffing opportunity, because we can tap into talent from anywhere.” That is a model for truly leveraging science that never sleeps.