Bioforum, a clinical research organisation implements Smartsheet to streamline project
management, increase team efficiencies, and gain visibility into projects with the support of Smartsheet’s Gold Solution partner, Rocket Business Solutions.
Smartsheet provides a complete 360-degree view. We can track issues, manage quality, and simplify resourcing. It has evolved into a tool we cannot do without. - Adri Erasmus (Director of the Project Management and Operations team at Bioforum)
In 2008, Bioforum established the Data Masters, an innovative, data-oriented Clinical Research Organisation (CRO) focused on the efficient collection, standardisation, and reporting of clinical trial data. Since then, it has supported over 400 clinical trials across over 100 organisations, from start-ups to global pharmaceutical companies. The company’s interdisciplinary team offers tailored solutions, including consulting, data management, biostatistics, statistical programming, and medical writing.
The team manages a variety of projects, timelines, and external stakeholders daily. Tasks like manually managing the budget and resourcing took a lot of time away from core activities. Bioforum wanted a project management solution to bring more efficiency to its processes. “We needed a platform that could be shared with external teams, something that could help us manage the overall timelines of a project and make the life of our team a little bit easier on a day-to-day basis,” remembers Adri Erasmus, the Director of the Project Management and Operations team at Bioforum.
Setting the stage
Seeing Smartsheet as primarily a project management tool, the team was slow to explore the solution’s full potential. “We did not know about all the features Smartsheet had to offer,” Erasmus explains. “We started looking at what some of the other companies were doing and we started exploring not just project management but also the operational management of our data management department. And this whole world opened up.”
Bioforum sought the services of Rocket Business Solutions, a Smartsheet and digital workflow consulting specialist with Werner Wasserman as the lead solution consultant. Using a unique methodology focused on data structure and integrity, Rocket Business Solutions helps companies navigate difficult processes with ease and independence. With over a decade's experience in implementing Smartsheet, Professional certification and two inhouse created software named Mission Control and Rocket Dashboards, Rocket Business Solutions can structure and restructure new and legacy projects with ease yielding superior solutions at a fraction of the cost.
Together, they outlined all the types of datasets Bioforum would need for their work and came up with building blocks for all projects, and they started setting Smartsheet up across teams. Rocket Business Solutions significantly accelerated the solution implementation, empowered Bioforum users and helped maximise adoption through a collaborative, user-centric and agile approach. “Their structured approach has given us capability to establish scalability and improve our end user experience,” says Erasmus.
“I realised that one of the biggest challenges for Bioforum was to make sure that everyone was dedicating the right amount of time to each project according to the budget,” says Wasserman. As Erasmus remembers: “We had this massive Excel sheet that I had to manually update. It took us around three weeks to insert everything and another week to review it.” To ease this workload, the team implemented an API integration and began pulling data into Smartsheet in real time. This eliminated the need to manually check for discrepancies in project resourcing. “Now it only takes me an hour’s discussion to iron everything out,” Erasmus says.
Photo Courtesy of Bioforum
Collecting and presenting data with ease
With Smartsheet in place, collecting all relevant data and feedback without duplication, errors and noise has become pain-free. “We developed a survey within Smartsheet where employees give peer feedback to each other,” explains Johan Vermeulen, Director of the Clinical Data Sciences team at Bioforum. He adds, “Not only did Smartsheet lessen the manual effort, but it has also created a smarter work environment. This helps us make better business decisions.” Erasmus agrees: “It’s a complete 360-degree view. We can track issues, manage quality, and simplify resourcing. It has evolved into a tool we cannot do without.”
Another critical activity for Bioforum, noted by Wasserman, is presenting reports to external stakeholders. As shared by Erasmus, “A lot of our sponsors were already using Smartsheet, and they love how easily accessible and user-friendly everything is. The adoption of the solution was great even among external teams. I can give access to a sheet with timelines and update it during the meeting and have it feed into other sheets. This is really something that makes the life of a project manager so much easier.”
More efficiency, integrity, and visibility
As Smartsheet eliminated the need for manual tasks, the Bioforum team was able to collaborate more smoothly and save time. “Now that everyone has access to the relevant sheets, the metrics, the meeting minutes and agenda, we have really improved our efficiency,” Erasmus explains. “We have probably saved 40 to 60 percent of our time. Our employees are available for meaningful work. One of our employees used to struggle to manage three clinical trials, now she’s managing seven.”
Bioforum has also eliminated the risk of human error. “Because around 90% of our data feeds into the database automatically, we no longer have duplication,” says Erasmus. “Our confidence in our data on the operations side has improved by 80%.”
The centralisation and the accuracy have also brought added visibility, enabling Bioforum to make better informed recruiting and other decisions. “Now the management team can see everything on a study or employee level or broken down by month. It’s now easy for us to show that we are working at full capacity, for example. Management did not previously have that level of visibility,” says Erasmus.”
Perpetual change and innovation
One of the company’s goals include building a document training repository, enabling employees to access documentation and indicate that they’ve read it before being assigned to a project. This helps Bioforum comply with regulatory requirements.
Moving forward, Bioforum is exploring more Smartsheet capabilities, including project-level dashboards and automated performance reviews. “Luckily, in our industry, change is part of our DNA. So far, we have adapted easily, and we will continue to do so,” concludes Vermeulen.