March 14, 2016 Issue
The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information
Good Manufacturing Practice E-Learning Cloud Platform offering Courses in cGMP, CGLP, Validation, Automation and Engineering
Founder and CEO
Interview conducted by:
Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – March 14, 2016
CEOCFO: Mr. O’Keeffe, on your site I see your “Continuous Learning Platform.” Would you tell us how Learnaboutgmp provides this service?
Mr. O’Keefe: We deliver these services through our life science community, called askaboutgmp.com, that works in tandem with learnaboutgmp.com. We source experts from our community to create content, and in turn, we create eLearning courses and books from that content.
For example, if we have a requirement to create a course on HPLC validation, we approach somebody from the community who is passionate about HPLC validation—someone who writes a lot of articles about it, responds to posts and deeply understands the area.
We approach that person who is deemed a subject matter expert to create the content, and we convert that content to an engaging, compelling eLearning format that we can add to our ever-growing library of content that you can access on a subscription basis.
CEOCFO: Just because someone is an expert, that does not necessarily mean they would be good teachers or understand elements of what needs to be taught. How do you go from the raw data of an expert to the finished product?
Mr. O’Keefe: We have our own internal review process, including our own quality control people in-house who have worked within various different aspects of the life sciences, and are familiar with the standards to which we adhere.
We also reach out to other experts in similar areas for assistance verifying that the content produced by the subject matter expert is of the highest quality.
These are the standards we require for advancement to the next stage of creating the eLearning course or book. We have various eLearning methodologies we use to make the content compelling and engaging for the end user.
We are very passionate about eLearning and we believe it’s the perfect vehicle to deliver our content.
Who is turning to you for services?
We started off selling books on our platform and that very quickly skyrocketed to the point that we were shipping to over 100 countries in less than 12 months—not only to individual users, but to large global multi-nationals such as Pfizer, Merck and J&J as well.
We realized the need for a more efficient way to deliver the amazing content we created, so we had a light bulb moment and discovered eLearning.
In the past twelve months, we started our eLearning service and it really has just kicked on from there.
Every life science company uses eLearning and they all have their own Learning Management System (LMS), so even if they don’t want to sign up to our subscription service, they can purchase any of our courses and upload directly to their own LMS.
Mylan Pharmaceuticals approached us about six months ago on the back of a 483 they received from an FDA warning.
As part of that 483 they created a CAPA, corrective and preventative action, which facilitated a subsequent action to create a new global training program for their staff.
This is a huge project for us, and it shows a high degree of confidence in what we do.
Another client we are working with at the moment is MERCK, which is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. They are using our customization program, so we are tailoring courses for them to align with their own policies and procedures.
What we are seeing is that the large multi-national companies are buying our courses directly whereas the smaller ones are signing up to our subscription model to access our courses.
How do you take a topic, that is technical and perhaps dry, and engage
people with material this is easy to comprehend and somewhat fun?
While attending a lot of big tradeshows and seminars, we also noticed there seemed to be many of the same presenters delivering the same tired old content all the time. We basically felt there were too many barriers for great people to share their knowledge in this industry.
We wanted to elevate the life science learning experience to the next level, and present fresh new content from subject matter experts in a modern way so that people would be excited about learning.
The content is often dry, so you have to create great content initially while simultaneously presenting it in an engaging and compelling manner for the learner.
We believe the presentation of content is a huge aspect to actually engaging the end user and learner.
How we present the courses to the learner in an eLearning format is a huge aspect of our success. This is why we carefully choose the instructional designers who work with us.
The bottom line is that instructional designers must be outstanding in what they do and help to continuously improve our service.
The feedback we receive from clients has been amazing from comments such as “I can’t believe the standard of these courses” to “I love these courses because I can’t wait to see what’s coming next”
CEOCFO: How do you measure the results of a course?
Mr. O’Keeffe: Client feedback is how we measure our success. When a learner takes any of our courses, we ask for their feedback and how we can improve. This is key input for us. We must continuously improve our courses and keep them aligned with ever-changing industry regulations.
Another great indicator of our success is when a client asks for a new course or if they can get customizations to an existing course for their organization.
CEOCFO: Would you tell us more about your customization?
Mr. O’Keeffe: As we have moved forward with the business and engaged with our clients, we learned very quickly that course customizations are a significant part of what we do.
When we work with clients and they review our courses they are between 80 to 90 percent of what they need. To ensure we reach the 100 percent satisfaction rating, our customization program allows us to customize any aspect of a course to align with an organizations policies and procedures.
Merck recently told us that our cGMP course was 90 percent in line with what they needed. They actually thought it was scary it was so accurate to what they wanted.
However, they still wanted 10 percent customization to their own organization‘s standards. We then worked with their SME’s to ensure the end product aligned with their expectations. The outcome of this approach is that they receive an eLearning course tailored to suit their needs without the huge overhead of doing it directly themselves.
CEOCFO: How do you reach out to companies that may not know about you?
Mr. O’Keeffe: Our community is really the powerhouse of our company.
When we created our forum eight years ago, we knew there was a huge gap in the market for a place where people could exchange ideas openly within the life sciences community. So if someone has an issue with a project or manufacturing activity they visit our forum, post a question and then receive access to a pool of experts globally. It’s like having access to the best consultant free of charge.
We now have over 50,000 registered life science professionals on our forum, with over 45,000 unique visits to the site each month. Not only are we providing an excellent resource, but it has also turned into our chief marketing tool where we can sell products and subscriptions directly to the people who want them.
The amazing thing about this is we spend zero dollars on marketing—all the sales we create are a direct result of people visiting our platform, which has been a huge factor in the growth of the company.
People are engaging with the site on a daily basis, and that has allowed us to increase our brand awareness throughout the industry.
It has made us a better company because the better content and more engaging our platform is, the more users and visitors we get to the website, which in turn leads to more sales.
CEOCFO: Are their topics that get a lot more traction? Are some of the courses getting less interest that you anticipated?
Mr. O’Keefe: There are always going to be a number of courses that get more traction than others do, because they need to be taken for compliance reasons. However, our platform provides continuous learning, so it highlights how much there is to learn and understand about this industry.
For example, if I work in the laboratory, the courses of particular interest would be Laboratory Data Integrity or How to Conduct a Laboratory Audit. But what if I want a new challenge and I want to work in Computer System Validation? How I can do that without experience in that area?
With our platform, you can now access a variety of great courses that are specific to that area and come up to speed very quickly. If you want to continue your personal growth within the industry this is a great way to do it.
Our vision is to create an online platform with accessible courses, covering every aspect of the life sciences, driven by an expert community who are passionate about their areas.
We want to become the Udemy or Lynda for the life sciences.
CEOCFO: Do you need to be on top of the regulatory issues?
Mr. O’Keeffe: That is a very important aspect to the business and is one of our key differentiators. The courses we publish to our platform all have review cycles with our authors to ensure they stay updated with ever-changing industry regulations and guidelines.
We ensure that all of our courses are reviewed every six months so that they stay current with industry trends and regulations. Our experts are extremely passionate about their fields, so this is just part of keeping our tools sharp.
Once we update a course, the learners immediately receive those updates. That’s the beauty of working in the cloud—everyone always has access to the most current version of every course.
We look at our courses as living organic entities that need continual care.
CEOCFO: Can people take your courses almost anywhere with any device?
Mr. O’Keeffe: Absolutely, when we chose what LMS platform we were going to use, one of the key decisions was that it be mobile friendly no matter what device you used to consume the content. So if you are using your phone, PC or tablet the experience will be beautiful.
In fact, we have just completed a huge redevelopment of all of our sites to ensure no matter what device you use, the experience is seamless. We also just introduced Single Sign On (SSO) for our platform, so now when you access our premium membership you can access every aspect of the platform including the online training. We’re really excited about this.
CEOCFO: How is business?
Mr. O’Keeffe: Business is great.
It has been a huge year for us. We were originally an Irish company with big dreams but now we have partnered with a major US company that has allowed us to grow quickly in the American market.
Finding a partner who shares your vision for the future is amazing and gives you even more confidence in what you are trying to achieve.
The vision has always been to create this really open platform for life sciences and that is where it is going.
We are trying to disrupt an industry that has been stagnant for a long time.
CEOCFO: Why pay attention to Learnaboutgmp?
Mr. O’Keeffe: Learnaboutgmp is an invaluable resource for life science professionals of all skill levels that can be used as a continuous learning platform. If you are looking to access training that is engaging and compelling, then our programs and courses are a great way to do that.
Think about Learnabougmp as an extension of your Learning and Development department. We are here as a compliance training partner for your organization.
“We wanted to elevate the life science learning experience to the next level, and present fresh new content from subject matter experts in a modern way so that people would be excited about learning.”- Graham O’Keeffe
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