How I used Smartsheet to propel my organization and my career forward

by Guest Author

Editor’s Note: Here at Smartsheet, our customers inspire us every day. This article comes from Oscar Gonzalez, Senior Program Planning Manager at Karyopharm Therapeutics.

In late 2016, after only five months as a lab manager for Karyopharm Therapeutics, I was promoted to the role of program manager in clinical operations. With no prior experience in clinical operations, I was in for quite a ride.

I couldn’t have imagined that after a year I’d be promoted to senior program planning manager and be the team lead of the program planning, analytics, and innovation group — in large part thanks to the effect I had in the implementation of Smartsheet across the organization.


Oscar Gonzalez in front of Karyopharm

Karyopharm is focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of drugs that more effectively treat cancer, autoimmune disorders, and other major diseases. We have active studies that encompass over 350 different centers (hospitals, small clinics, medical schools, etc.) across more than 20 countries.

My first task in my new role was to figure out how to manage the timelines for ongoing key trials. The program we were using at the time only offered per-person licenses, so visibility into timelines across teams and testing centers was a big challenge.

After some thorough research, I found Smartsheet, which allowed me to share timelines and see shifts in dates instantaneously, as new information came in from multiple sources. It also helped me track information and updates from several internal departments, as well as hundreds of domestic and international trial sites.

Promoting the platform

Once I’d landed on Smartsheet as a solution, I faced the challenge of rolling out the platform internally. The difficulty in initiating Smartsheet was compounded by the fact that as a company, we were in the middle of about ten active clinical trials, all in motion.

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We function at a very high pace at Karyopharm, and decisions, data, and information are constantly in flux. Given our fast pace, there was much push back against adopting a new platform. I heard a lot of "who has the time?" What I found was that there were three responses to the new platform:

  1. People who were excited to work on the new platform
  2. Those are were intrigued but not ready to fully invest
  3. Those who said "I don't have the time," or were simply reluctant to enter a new system.

I found that the key was to focus on the individuals in the second bucket, and get them to a place where they could invest more fully. I learned what they needed and recreated their trackers on my time to show them what having all of their information in Smartsheet allowed them to do. I created the spark, gave the embers time to burn, and eventually the system caught on like a wildfire.

Fewer emails, better visibility

When I started my role as program manager, most of our information was managed by sending spreadsheets back and forth over email, which often left us with conflicting or outdated information. And sometimes information was hard to find, given that it’s pretty common for staff members to have thousands of unopened emails at any given moment.

Now, with Smartsheet, we can keep important updates out of staff email inboxes. Having a more direct way to deliver information saves time and effort for everyone. Through the use of notifications we’ve reduced the need for additional emails upwards of 70 percent.

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I’m also able to better manage upcoming deadlines when working in Smartsheet. For example, when the last patient at a clinical site has taken the last dose of an investigational drug, the clock starts ticking on our deadlines for reporting trial data to regulatory bodies. Working in Smartsheet makes it easier to confirm that all necessary documentation has been collected and verified before it’s time to submit the drug for commercial approval.

Smartsheet not only allows me to visualize the entire program, but it has given me a purpose and a platform to optimize how our company functions in a way that I never thought was possible.

Impact across the company

Now we use Smartsheet to manage everything from setting up a clinical trial to updating records to feeding information back and forth between our medical affairs group and our medical clinical research administrators.

We have even launched project dashboards to display live on monitors all around the building. Our dashboards allow everyone in the company to see how their work is affecting project timelines, which in turn affects how quickly we can get this medication to patients.

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I never thought I could have this kind of impact in a company. Smartsheet gave me a platform that propelled the work of my colleagues, as well as my work, to the eyes of our executives, and to an eventual promotion after just one year.

Learn more about how Karyopharm Therapeutics transforms the way they conduct cancer drug trials with Smartsheet and data automation.