Site Training Needs

Institute training on the job.

Principle 6, W. Edwards Deming

(a) Each person engaged in the manufacture, processing, packing, or holding of a drug product shall have education, training, and experience, or any combination thereof, to enable that person to perform the assigned functions. Training shall be in the particular operations that the employee performs and in current good manufacturing practice (including the current good manufacturing practice regulations in this chapter and written procedures required by these regulations) as they relate to the employee’s functions. Training in current good manufacturing practice shall be conducted by qualified individuals on a continuing basis and with sufficient frequency to assure that employees remain familiar with CGMP requirements applicable to them.

(b) Each person responsible for supervising the manufacture, processing, packing, or holding of a drug product shall have the education, training, and experience, or any combination thereof, to perform assigned functions in such a manner as to provide assurance that the drug product has the safety, identity, strength, quality, and purity that it purports or is represented to possess.

(c) There shall be an adequate number of qualified personnel to perform and supervise the manufacture, processing, packing, or holding of each drug product.

US FDA 21CFR 210.25

All parts of the Pharmaceutical Quality system should be adequately resourced with competent personnel, and suitable and sufficient premises, equipment and facilities.

EU EMA/INS/GMP/735037/201 2.1

The organization shall determine and provide the resources needed for the establishment,
implementation, maintenance and continual improvement of the quality management system. The organization shall consider:

a) the capabilities of, and constraints on, existing internal resources;
b) what needs to be obtained from external providers.

ISO 9001:2015 requirement 7.1.1

It is critical to have enough people with the appropriate level of training to execute their tasks.

It is fairly easy to define the individual training plan, stemming from the job description and the process training requirements. In the aggregate we get the ability to track overdue training, and a forward look at what training is coming due. Quite frankly, lagging indicators that show success at completing assigned training but give no insight to the central question – do we have enough qualified individuals to do the work?

To get this proactive, we start with the resource plan. What operations need to happen in a time frame and what are the resources needed. We then compare that to the training requirements for those operations.

We can then evaluate current training status and retention levels and determine how many instructors we will need to ensure adequate training.

We perform a gap assessment to determine what new training needs exist

We then take a forward look at what new improvements are planned and ensure appropriate training is forecasted.

Now we have a good picture of what an “adequate number” is. We can now set a leading KPI to ensure that training is truly proactive.

Training Plan

As discussed in the post “CVs and JDs and Training Plans” the training plan takes the job description and then says what a given individual needs for training requirements. It does this by looking at the role on a job description and cross-referencing it with the training requirements for the role established by the process owner.

The functional manager is responsible for determining for any given job which roles within a process an individual has.

The process owner, for each process, then sets the training requirements for each role.

Take, for example, a job description that has these three job responsibilities

  • Lead inspection readiness activities and provide support during regulatory site inspections
  • Participate in the vendor management process including the creation and review of Quality Agreements with suppliers
  • Write, review and manage approval of deviations, change controls and CAPA’s

Those three bullets contain a ton of job requirements that translate to roles in processes.

Inspection ReadinessLead
Regulatory Site InspectionsSupport
Vendor Managementparticipant
Quality AgreementsAuthor
Change ControlAuthor
Roles and Processes from an Example Job Description

The functional manager when writing the job description should understand the exact roles in the processes. A good practice is to have a catalog as part of the process framework. For example, participant may not be the right role name and a more specific role should be used.

The process owner for each of those processes has (usually with help from the training unit) determined the right training for each role. These are usually made up of curricula with individual items.

It’s useful to think of these curricula as building blocks. For example, quality agreements, deviation/CAPA, and change control all have a technical writing curricula. The training unit can have a curricula for technical writing and add that to specific roles as appropriate.

The training plan is a key record, on which everything else hinges.

In an ideal world this should be automated. But in my experience it is manual as the job description is not functionality in the Learning Management System and it involves a degree of translation to build the training plan. This is an excellent opportunity for anyone who reads my blog that works for a company doing an LMS to wow me.

Changes to the job description drive changes to the training plan. As an individuals work changes, so to does the processes and roles they interact with. This is the responsibility of the individual and the functional manager is accountable.

Changes to the processes drive changes to the training plan. The process owner is accountable here.

GxP New Hire Orientation

Leveraging the company’s new employee orientation program can help both compliance and quality by ensuring that a new hire (or transfer) understands the expectations for employee performance which:

  • Are covered by the GxP regulations, corporate policies and process/procedure
  • Are written and readily available to employees
  • Are mandatory

In a heavily regulated industry, like pharmaceuticals, this is especially important because an individual may not have experienced such regulation in their former position. Even within a regulated organization the level of regulatory experience will change as you move from one area to the next.

The new hire orientation process is not a once-and-done and should be long enough to truly make an impact on the individual’s performance.

This new hire program is seeing to engage new hires more rapidly within the quality culture to ensure that employee’s behavior aligns more rapidly with quality culture.

For example, the new hire orientation should reinforce that a pharmaceutical company is a regulated environment, responsible for products that can directly affect customers’ health and quality of life. Product failure could result in death or sickness. Working for an organization where products help preserve and sustain life comes with the responsibility to know one’s job and perform it correctly at all time.

New hire orientation must present the organization’s cultural imperative for quality – why is it important to fulfill the organization’s purpose or reason for being – and how has this been embedded into the organization’s culture. At heart new hire orientation should answer three questions:

  1. What does quality mean to you personally and how do you exhibit in the organization?
  2. What are the expectations for quality outcomes in the organization and how we judge that they have been met.
  3. How quality is embedded in the culture and daily work of the people in this organization and what represents good role model behaviors.

Content that does not immediately impact the new hire, or only impacts new hires in several departments or units, is better deferred until later training activities.

Topics that would be in that immediate review include:

  • What does it mean to work in a regulated environment
  • The role of the quality system
  • How to access process/procedure and complete training
  • Good documentation practices and data integrity (high level)
  • How to engage with regulatory stakeholders and other external partners (high level)

What other material would you cover?

CVs and JDs and Training Plans

In the post “HR and Quality, joined at the hip” I covered some of the regulations that set the expectations in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries that employees have the appropriate education, experience and training to do their jobs. What is often called the personnel qualification triangle.

A job description is a written document that outlines the duties, responsibilities, contributions, behaviors, outcomes and required qualifications for a specific job in an organization. A good job description is a specification that results from a detailed job analysis. It is used in hiring and performance evaluation. It is also the starting point for determining a good GxP training plan.

In order to providing the specific knowledge, skills, abilities and behaviors that need to be addressed for each employee, the job description needs to specifically call out the roles in the processes an employee will play. Instead of providing broad statements like “participate in CAPAs” or “Manufacture product” it should be more specific such as “create and project manage CAPAs” or “Perform visual inspection.”

I challenge everyone to think broadly about the job description as a tool to drive excellence. Utilized throughout the life of employment, a job description is a powerful tool that can aid managers. Managers have a road map that can help them with their duties of planning, leading, organizing, controlling and staffing. With a road map, the complexities of the organization become easier.

The curricula vitae provides evidence that the employee is fit-for-purpose to the job description. The curricula vitae shows education and experience that demonstrates the possession of knowledge, skills, abilities and behaviors.

The training plan then lays out what the employee needs to bit fit-for-use, to be able to do all the roles in the job description. It includes all the process and role specific training, as well as filling in any gaps that might exist on the curricula vitae.

The Personnel Qualification Triangle of Education, Experience and Training

It is important to note that this may not be a fine equilateral triangle. Experience, for example, can often, but not always make up for education.

Failure Points in the Personnel Qualification Triangle

  • Position and experience descriptions on CVs do not match the corresponding job description. This red flag stems from a lack of coordination between the curricula vitae and job description, which can be particularly concerning when an employee has a job description that requires very specific technical knowledge or oversees other seemingly unrelated areas that their experience would indicate.
  • Employee positions current position is not included in curricula vitae. The curricula vitae should always include the current position. While not a deal breaker, this is perhaps the easiest way to see large gaps in the cv, especially if the employee moves around or up in the same organization.
  • Curricula vitae do not reflect the level of experience expected given the employee’s job title.
  • The roles and responsibilities documented in in the job descriptions do not correspond with those included in SOPs. A reviewer should be able to go from a process to anyone engaged in the process and be able to see the work the individual does reflected.
  • Job titles match. Curricula vitae, job descriptions and what an individual is listed as on an organizational chart need to all match. I usually go as far to check someone’s business card before they go into meet with an inspector or external auditor.