Over the past few years, biopharma R&D has experienced rapid transformation. The result is evolving trial landscapes that require new approaches to pipelines, processes and, in our experience, people.

As competition for sites heats up, many sponsors are investing in tools and technologies to lower the burdens and operationalize site relations through automation. While this can help, workforce planning remains critical to site feasibility, monitoring and management.

Shifting protocol types and complexities highlight the need for expert talent. However, demand for candidates is outpacing supply and was well before the COVID-19 pandemic. In today’s uncertain labor economy, people resourcing matters. Here’s how you can best respond:

embrace a fixed-flexible strategy

To start, plan to adapt people resourcing to meet specific site and participant needs. John Ebeid, Senior Vice President of Randstad Life Sciences, recommends what he calls a “fixed-flexible strategy.”

“This allows you to adjust resources to the natural ebbs and flows of site involvement,” Ebeid shares. “Then you can bring on resources for different surges and spikes of workload such as during phase transitions, study startup or study close.”

For example, you may supplement clinical data coordinators all the way to site monitoring, evaluations and compliance-related oversight. This solves two issues: it eases the burden on your full-time team and provides independent resources which are critical to giving oversight without bias.

engage a mix of talent types

Next, think through opportunities to diversify talent types. What resources will you need for each phase of your trial? Consider whether you can outsource versus insource, hire remotely versus onsite and how you can keep people working at their highest pay grade. Then explore when and where you can best engage entry-level, remote or temporary staff.

The right combination feeds into a central workforce strategy that can keep operations running smoothly and ready for inspection. “You need a nimble plan that can flex and engage a mix of talents,” Ebeid says. “Successful programs layer different profiles within a unified team environment.”

improve continuity through retention

The right people for site-specific activities are critical, but what happens over time?

“One of the biggest challenges is not only attracting but retaining people,” Ebeid explains. “When you take a drug from preclinical phases to market approval, you’re talking seven to 12 years potentially.”

For long trials, you need people who have the knowledge of not only the drug but also execution at the sites and interactions with the principal investigators. Retaining great talent supports continuity of your core team and leads to further success in the long run.

To keep top talent, factor in competitive pay and meaningful work. Also, address your culture, pipeline and reputation. If your staff feels pulled to projects at the start — and their experience stays that way — teams are much more likely to experience the kind of continuity modern-day protocols require.

In an evolving trial landscape, people resourcing can help you stay agile, up to date on trends and ultimately get products to market faster. That’s why it’s important to find and keep great talent. To learn more, explore Randstad’s playbook on 2023 biopharma staffing trends here.