Trending at LTEN: Onboarding, Social Media, Adaptive Learning

When LTEN members come together, the conversation is always interesting. At this year’s 44th LTEN Annual Conference, lively conversations centered around such leading-edge issues as onboarding and technology; managing social media; and adaptive learning. These and other issues were raised by TGaS Advisors’ LTEN Pharmaceutical Landscape.

The study, an in-depth report based on input from 28 companies on key issues facing Training & Development, was presented at the June 1-4, 2015 conference. The companies involved represented a broad range in terms of scope and revenue. (See Figure 1)

Here are some highlights from the report:

Onboarding: More Technology, Please! Companies are showing increasing interest in a more formalized onboarding process. The 2015 numbers show that 61% of participating companies have formalized programs for new home office trainers, up from last year’s 54%, with disease state/product knowledge, creating business impact and project management as the top competencies. Conference attendees, however, were most interested in virtual training, practically a no-show in current onboarding practices. Technology is so important across all areas, participants noted, that we need to incorporate it much more broadly. (See Figure 2)

Yammer, Jive, What’s the Story? T&D has the same problems with social media as other pharma sectors. We’re all struggling with how to incorporate these every day tools into training without running up against compliance issues. Participants spoke about ways to make this manageable, but as the data shows, companies aren’t there yet. Asked about technologies used in training, respondents were comfortable with E-learning (93%) and conference calls or webinars (93%) but not with social media (4%). (See Figure 3)


Adaptive Learning: The Next Frontier? Adaptive learning, programs that adapt to actual user experience, appears to be high on the wish list. While only 4% of respondents currently use this technology, the numbers show a leap to 41% planning to institute it within the year and another 4% in the future. Session attendees indicated that, once again, compliance is an issue, along with the technological structure of their Learning Management Systems (LMS). (See Figure 4)


Measuring Effectiveness Remains a Challenge. While most companies in the Landscape Study assess reactions (71%) and information (68%), only 4% try to measure the ROI, or quantifiable business impact. Session attendees expressed a strong interest in taking measurement further to find out what training participants actually use in their work, the financial impact and the ROI, few have figured out how to quantify the data. (See Figure 5)


Initial, Advanced, Continuous: What’s the Breakdown? The Landscape Study produced an overview of how training time is allocated for sales reps, account managers and district managers. For example, sales reps average 188.1 hours in initial training (ranging from a low of 30 to a high of 480) and 31.3 in advanced training (from 16 to 48 hours). Account managers spend an average 152.3 hours in initial training (ranging from 40 to 480) and 114.7 in advanced (ranging from a low of 16 to a high of 480). District managers average 130.1 hours (ranging from 24 to 400 hours) in initial training and 45 hours (8 to 120 range) in advanced. (Note: Ranges are broad because company size of respondents varies significantly.)

Continuous training is generally elective, but also includes required regional sales and POA meetings. (See Figure 6)


The Landscape Study is a trove of information that can help guide Training & Development at pharmaceutical companies of every size. For more information or for a sampling of the study, contact Michelle McAllister,, or Katie Rebilas,

Michelle McAllister, a member of the Training & Development Practice at TGaS Advisors, presented the LTEN Pharmaceutical Landscape Study at the Annual Conference in June 2015.

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