More than a buzzword, sustainability is both a priority and a passion at BRIGHT. We’re committed to building a sustainable business for the benefit of our employees, clients, and business partners. In this article, I’m excited to share the intentional approaches we are taking to strengthen the sustainability of our project pipeline, infrastructure, team, and culture, along with several exciting announcements for 2023.
Planning for Uncertainty to Ensure Sustainability
Our clients need to trust that they can count on us as a stable and reliable partner who will manage their clinical studies to completion, which may take anywhere from several months to several years. Once we commit to the client, we then need to plan workload for a team of employees who will support the study for the projected timeframe. This plan can disappear in a flash or be significantly delayed due to funding shortfalls, product development problems, or other issues that could delay or even eliminate our starting point – FDA IDE approval. It’s never easy to plan for uncertainty, but here are our strategies to ensure a sustainable business.
First, a large study pipeline and diverse client list.
Our study pipeline needs to be filled with the right quantity, the right type, and the right mix of work to keep our team busy. This starts with finding the right clients. Our ideal client is a medical device company that chooses to outsource its entire clinical investigation to us. In the past, we could only accept these ideal full-study management projects because smaller projects kept only a few key people busy. We’ve since grown the capacity of our monitoring, statistics, and data management teams, and we can now often help clients with their smaller projects, even if they don’t fall into our “ideal” bucket.
Further, our reputation has been key to pipeline expansion, as evidenced by our volume of repeat business and referrals. Clients are reaching out to us early in their planning process, which allows us to better forecast our resources for studies that are one or more years away. Overall, the large study pipeline allows us to pivot if a new opportunity arises or an existing study is delayed.
Second, best-in-class infrastructure.
We are investing in enhanced infrastructure to ensure our business sustainability for the next five years and beyond. For example, we’re upgrading our electronic trial master file (eTMF) software platform by implementing a best-in-class e-tool that will support advanced data visualization and dashboarding. This tool will help us do more with the team we have, increasing the value we provide to our clients and clinical sites.
Speaking of infrastructure, we’re also excited about expansion at our beautiful corporate headquarters to accommodate our continued growth. With the addition of 4,500 square feet in 2023, we’ll have ~12,000 square feet of office space in downtown Minneapolis, an entire floor of the Baker Building. We believe in downtown. We believe in facetime with our team and clients. We believe in our collaborative and supportive work culture. We believe our team enjoys being together and works best when we’re together.
Third, a sustainable team.
Despite the costs associated with employing non-billable team members, we believe in taking calculated risks to hire in advance of need. This strategy allows time for onboarding, training, and team integration. It also allows wiggle room in our capacity to accommodate urgent client needs.
We have developed sophisticated project forecasting and resource modeling tools to inform the timing and pace of our hires. My team often hears me say, “No hiring under duress.” Hurried decisions increase the risk of hiring people who lack the right attitude and aptitude, which could lead to costly disruptions in our carefully curated culture. Despite the tight labor market in the Twin Cities, we have had no problems hiring great talent. People want to work here.
Speaking of attitude and aptitude, while some companies get hung up on years of experience, we look for people we can develop. We look for people who are kind, honest, motivated, hard-working, good listeners, critical thinkers, life-long learners, collaborators, and detailed-oriented. In other words, people who have a commitment to and a habit of excellence and who take pride in the quality of their work. A great team attracts great hires.
As mentioned, employee development is part of our sustainability plan. In early 2023, we will transition one of our rockstar employees from her current project management role into a training and development manager role. In this new position for our business, she will support our management team to ensure their direct reports have a brag-worthy onboarding experience, are fully trained and confident in their roles, and have a development plan in place that identifies goals for desired work experiences, training, coaching, and mentoring. In contrast to the “burn and churn” approach that is too common in the CRO industry, it’s a priority for us to support our employees on a purposeful, enjoyable, and long-tenured career path at BRIGHT.
Fourth, a sustainable culture.
Ever since I founded BRIGHT, one of my biggest passions has been creating and nurturing our culture of joy, fun, and service. We enjoy people, and we find joy in our work and each other. We want to understand people. We want to help people, whether they are our clients, clinical sites, business partners, or coworkers.
We talk about personal problems. We laugh over our foibles and funny happenings in our homelife. We talk about our clients’ hurdles and how we can best help them. We are engaged and passionate. We seek joy in the process. We find joy in our deliverables. Seriously, where else can people coo about beautiful documents, flow diagrams, and concise sentences? We celebrate efficiency and place a high priority on creating elegant, streamlined processes so that we can have time to achieve both professional and personal goals.
While we are hard core about offering high-quality service to our clients, we balance that commitment to excellence with a culture of flexibility and support. The flexibility of hybrid work schedules has always been a benefit of working at BRIGHT, not just a temporary trend.
Further, we all have lives outside of work that are respected and embraced. My team watches me adjust my schedule to accommodate school carpools, sick kids, sports, appointments, and cabin time. We cross-train team members to support folks out on vacation, sick, and paid parental leaves, and this helps everyone feel empowered to do what they need to do to take care of themselves and their families, leading to a sustainable life.
We have a great thing going on here with an incredible group of people who are helping me make it all sustainable. I’m grateful for my hardworking and supportive team members and clients who feel appreciated and empowered to tell me their honest opinions, provide frank feedback, and share encouragement. As you can probably tell by now, I’m jazzed about our BRIGHT future and look forward with excitement to 2023 and beyond.