Celerion automates clinical research management and employee onboarding using Smartsheet and Brandfolder
Celerion, a clinical research organization, helps pharmaceutical and biotech clients get their drugs to market. To eliminate manual work for administrative tasks, it created a centralized library using Brandfolder and a Smartsheet-based new user onboarding toolkit.
visibility on training statuses
paper use eliminated in training documentation
“Using Brandfolder and Smartsheet for new employee onboarding takes the chaos out of a traditionally chaotic time. Our new hire onboarding kit is completely automated. The program foresees new hires seven days in advance, and based on the job title of each hire, it selects and creates a customized dashboard with the relevant technical requirements and generates a task list.”
Senior Director of Lincoln Clinical Site at Celerion
With over 40 years of experience conducting more than 6,000 studies, Celerion is a clinical research organization (CRO) that helps pharmaceutical and biotech clients get their drugs to market by testing product safety. The company has 1,000 employees in its three main locations: Lincoln, Nebraska and Phoenix, Arizona in the United States, as well as Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Celerion enrolls healthy volunteers in research studies to test the safety of new medications before they get approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These studies reveal important information about the medication being tested.
“We are the ones that make the recommendations you see on prescription bottles like ‘take with food’ or ‘don’t consume dairy products within X hours.’ So before the medicine gets to the people that need it, we make sure we understand what it does in a healthy body. That is called Phase 1 of the research process,” says Angie Badgett, Senior Director of Lincoln Clinical Site at Celerion.
Discovering the power of automation
At first, Celerion contacted Smartsheet to develop a project management toolkit via Control Center. “We needed it for our studies’ timelines, client contact information, and all the essentials you would expect to see in a project management suite of services,” details Badgett.
But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the challenge of keeping track of all employees working remotely and in the office arose. “It was chaos, but we quickly realized that we could leverage Smartsheet to build a master COVID-19 tracker for our company,” she says.
“In December 2020, with the help of a Smartsheet consultant, we transitioned from paper and Microsoft Excel to Smartsheet. I immediately fell in love with the software’s automation and visibility.”
Celerion began to expand the use of Smartsheet to all operations, but another challenge transpired. In May 2022, Celerion was approached by a new client who needed to run a study involving 200 participants across two sites. “Our studies usually have about 60 participants, so this was an important opportunity to further prove our capability,” explains Badgett. “We needed to offer our client the assurance that we could do the study successfully.”
Gaining trust by attracting participants in record time
After brainstorming with the team, Badgett decided that this occasion was a perfect use case for Brandfolder.
“We used Brandfolder to create a central repository for all of our studies’ marketing assets, which allowed the new study’s rollout to be streamlined easily. As a result, we were able to quickly advertise the study and gather all the participants needed,” says Badgett.
Brandfolder’s scope expanded immediately. “Previously, we were using outdated folders and drives in SharePoint to house corporate marketing materials, which led to asset sprawl, the use of outdated assets, and issues with versioning and control,” explains Badgett. “Once we saw Brandfolder’s insight capabilities, version control, and permission features, we migrated client presentation materials, templates, PowerPoint presentations, and other documents to the platform.
“We started with 12 users and five collections. Within 90 days, the number of collections grew to 12, and all of our almost 700 employees have standard access to the library at a minimum to view and download assets within Brandfolder. With the centralized repository, we are sure that our teams use the most up-to-date and accurate marketing materials or slide presentations at all times.”
Managing onboarding with automation
In the same year, the company’s human resource and operations departments kicked off a joint initiative to leverage Smartsheet in the new hire onboarding process. “We had a very challenging manual onboarding process, so every manager felt like they had to reinvent the wheel every time we hired someone,” says Badgett. “For example, the manager had to provide access to all relevant assets manually and spend time building an onboarding program from scratch, resulting in frustration and decreased productivity.”
The Celerion team realized that all the assets they needed to include in the Smartsheet toolkit could be easily housed within Brandfolder. So, they built an API and connected Smartsheet to Brandfolder to create a new hire toolkit accessible with one click.
“Using Brandfolder and Smartsheet for new employee onboarding takes the chaos out of a traditionally chaotic time. Our new hire onboarding kit is completely automated,” explains Badgett. “The program foresees new hires seven days in advance, and based on the job title of each hire, it selects and creates a customized dashboard with the relevant technical requirements and generates a task list."
“The new employee can even complete his training on his phone using the Smartsheet mobile app, and the managers can easily see who has viewed and downloaded the assets required for onboarding within Brandfolder which takes the guessing out of what has and hasn't been completed.”
The new tools also offer visibility at the executive level. “We have eliminated 99.9 percent of the paper involved in documenting training,” says Badgett. “One of the huge benefits of using Control Center for a process like this is that everything from the toolkit level goes up into executive-level reports and dashboards. This way, individuals at every level of the company can get an update of the status of new hires and training just by logging into our Smartsheet dashboards.”
Faster, more efficient workflow
Using Smartsheet daily has revealed extra benefits. Celerion leveraged the platform to house polished and on-brand assets for the marketing, sales, and operations teams. “We can now have quality metrics about all our clinical sites at any time at a click of a button. Also, with WorkApps, we can easily manage access for all our assets—a task that used to require a lot of time,” explains Badgett. “In addition, visitor tracking and meeting agendas are so straightforward now, as all actions are centralized and visible across all locations at all times.”
As Celerion is now a heavy automation user, plans are underway to enhance the adoption of the new tools in other areas of the company’s activity. “For our next phase, we want to use Control Center to manage research schedules, as there’s a lot of variability in our business,” reveals Badgett. “Also, we’re going to adopt Portfolio WorkApps for our new hire training toolkit.”