It is now the norm for clinical and medical departments to work with a mixture of headcount, freelance and contract employees as well as outsourcing whole projects and there is no indication that going into 2005 and beyond, that there will be any change in this trend. Mergers and acquisitions often mean a loss of staff but no reduction in clinical trial requirements and skills and company-specific knowledge are often stretched, putting existing trials at risk, as well as creating frustration. This can delay a clinical trial programme and reduce time to market – the all-important metric.
Companies will continue to have a choice of a many suppliers, and when products are close to market, insourcing staff to work alongside existing employees is likely to remain the preferred option.
Choosing a company to trust when resourcing clinical staff is a bit like choosing a life-partner. Whilst there are going to be many areas where there is agreement, compromise may well be required to ensure that the experience is good for everyone concerned.
To get the best from suppliers, what should be the considerations when sending out that job? Firstly, in today’s employment legislative minefield, there has to be more than a ‘rent-a-body’ mentality. A company that offers full-time employment, full company benefits, career development and management of its clinical employees will ensure that they are legally seen as the employer, handling all personnel issues and challenges that may occur.
Next to consider is whether the company chosen to work with is actually able to attract candidates for the position, has the infrastructure to manage the process from initial screening to placement and management, and has quality built into its recruitment process, operating to industry Best Practices. Candidates can choose with whom they work, and in today’s competitive arena they want large company benefits, to include pension, private health and a bonus, on top of sick pay, annual leave and training, a competitive salary and career development.
For relationships with suppliers to be successful, all parties need to accept that we need each other and understand the value that each contributes. In addition, we need to ensure that we can develop shared ways of working, creating and fostering a feeling of joint ownership. It helps if we all behave with integrity, understand each other’s capabilities, roles and remits and play to the strengths. Getting to know each other, developing mutual trust and investing time to move the buyer-seller relationship to commitment and collaboration, will avoid conflict and ensure a long term business relationship that benefit everyone. Only by working with a company where there is this mutual respect, where both parties have a clear understanding of what can and cannot be achieved, will a relationship with a supplier of choice move away from ‘rent-a-body’ to true partnership.
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