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The Art of Recruitment and Talent Development in FSPs

A close look at how the right resources, skills and training help deliver new functional service partnerships on time.

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Clinical research requires vast talent across a variety of roles and specialties, as well as across global locations. In this complex environment, functional service partnership (FSP) models have become a solution of choice for pharmaceutical and biotech companies navigating the challenges of clinical development.

However, implementation of a successful FSP engagement requires careful planning, coordination and expertise to ensure a smooth process and optimal performance. As such, success often hinges on getting the right resources in place at the right time — which means having a partner that is an expert at resourcing, recruiting, onboarding and training, not just in the clinical development field, but in the unique world of FSPs.

To help drug developers address these challenges and meet their timelines, PPD® FSP solutions provide recruiting and talent development expertise to deliver the best of the best: highly trained, top-tier experts who bring a customer-first, problem-solving mindset to the clinical development services we provide. Here’s how we do it.

Resourcing: The Bigger Picture

For study sponsors, predicting the level of staff and services necessary for any given trial is one of the first and most important challenges. In our 2023 survey of industry trends, 30% of respondents identified talent/staff shortages as one of the top challenges that global drug development leaders face. This comes as the demand for qualified clinical research associates (CRAs) is expected to increase by more than 36% in the next decade.

Fortunately, PPD FSP solutions deliver an incredible breadth and depth of therapeutic and functional expertise, uniquely positioning us to deliver the right experience and knowledge to fill immediate resource gaps.

Our commitment to the success of our FSP engagements — and therefore to the success of those studies or trials — is clear from the outset. We have two dedicated leadership roles that leverage the full force of our recruiting and talent delivery expertise to rapidly ramp up engagements and ensure their overall smooth operation:

  • The implementation lead (IL) is the point person who oversees developing processes and resource allocation strategies, including working with all the various stakeholders (talent acquisition, information technology, finance, legal, human resources and others) to facilitate the identification, allocation and onboarding of talent and other resources.
  • The operations delivery lead (ODL) serves as the central point of contact and is responsible for partnership oversight, proactive communication, resourcing forecasts, capacity management, financial oversight and more.

Together, these professionals drive accurate and timely resource identification and placement to ensure projects launch on time and stay on budget.

Recruitment: The Best Possible Talent

Sponsors often require a number of resources within a specified timeframe, but without expert guidance, rapid ramp-up can strain an organization, particularly in a competitive landscape where clinical resources are limited. For our FSP customers, PPD FSP solutions overcome these challenges by delivering quick and seamless selection and management of both internal and external candidates.

Keys to Success

We start by understanding the most integral aspects of each role we’re contracted to deliver, working with sponsors to fully understand and embrace their culture and their expectations around talent expertise. We know that this cultural phenotype is equally as important as the work experience a candidate brings.

To more quickly identify talent that is the right fit for the role and company, we access candidates from an internal pool of more than 30,000 research professionals with proven skillsets. PPD FSP solutions also leverage the powerful global infrastructure of Thermo Fisher Scientific and an established recruitment engine — including a dedicated FSP recruitment team of more than 130 professionals and an insourced contract labor program — to identify high-potential candidates throughout the world and ensure resources are ready to deploy.

Rebadging Expertise

Some sponsors prefer rebadging, a valuable solution whose numerous benefits include business continuity, flexibility and potential cost savings. Additionally, it encourages staff engagement with an assurance of secured employment, as rebadged employees can be contracted to continue in the same roles on ongoing programs. Those without current assignments will find projects in their new roles. PPD FSP solutions offer a dedicated staff transfer team focused on change management and business continuity activities, including:

  • Shifting costs from direct to indirect to give more flexibility and right-size workforces
  • Leveraging expertise in Acquired Rights Directive (ARD) laws and regulations with an 87% average transfer success rate
  • Eliminating risks involved in hiring and layoff cycles
  • Condensing vendor contracts to reduce legal, financial and ongoing oversight burden

Training: Ongoing, Collaborative Development

Identifying and recruiting talent is only the first step. Clinical research typically requires a range of resources that ensure all personnel are up to date and able to meet evolving regulatory and safety requirements. In many cases, these staff also seek training and coursework that develop their skills beyond what is strictly required by regulation — ensuring they not only deliver the best outcomes for the current project but are well-suited to the next project and a successful career in the field. PPD FSP solutions focus on development, engagement and retention to upskill and reskill employees, expanding their knowledge base and developing skills in advance of future workforce needs.

CollaborationMany sponsors prefer their resources to adhere to their own standard operating procedures (SOPs). This demands synchronization between sponsor training protocols and internal resource management. PPD FSP solutions are collaborative, as we work with sponsors to plan for resource preparedness while respecting the sponsor’s training standards.
Risk-Based TrainingClinical trials are complex, so one-size-fits-all training may not always fit the bill. For example, PPD FSP solutions include a comprehensive analysis of risk factors for each role. This customized training strategy reduces onboarding time. In fact, we have achieved an impressive average of just 22 days from candidate identification to full operational capability using risk-based training.
Soft SkillsWe know that soft skills are as important as technical skills, enabling personnel to communicate, negotiate and handle conflicts effectively. Our development programs attend to the soft skills that make working together in diverse teams more productive, boosting collaboration and building strong relationships for the long term.

Our FSP Academy delivers a series of training modules that provide information, guidance and best practices for managing the unique aspects and nuances of delivering FSP solutions. In addition, functional and therapeutic area tools (like our comprehensive cell and gene therapy training and forums), resources and role-specific trainings (including our CRA Academy) support employees throughout the entire project life cycle — from startup and maintenance to closeout — to provide ongoing guidance and support.

An Impressive Record

🏆 Thermo Fisher Scientific’s PPD clinical research business has ranked as a leading business for employee learning and development in Training Magazine’s Top 100 list for 11 consecutive years.

📉 Compared to the industry average turnover rate of 20% or greater, our average is around 12% and trending downward.

Recruitment and talent management are critical to FSP performance.

Talent shortages are a harsh reality for the entire industry, but they don’t have to slow down the development of promising therapies. An FSP provider that has a proven resourcing and recruitment mechanism/engine, and offers in-depth and regular training, creates a welcoming and enriching atmosphere for everyone involved – enabling drug developers to resource their projects appropriately and make a positive impact on patient lives.

PPD FSP solutions use our recruitment and talent-development expertise to provide highly skilled, top-tier experts with unmatched therapeutic and functional expertise — all contributing to industry-leading retention rates.

  • Operational, functional, technical and therapeutic professionals — and laboratory services — are available for FSP engagements across all phases and therapeutic areas and at all levels, including senior roles.
  • To ensure projects launch on time and stay on budget, our dedicated roles focus on rapidly ramping up engagements, keeping stakeholders informed with high-touch communications and applying on-demand staff and services as needed.
  • We have strong cross-collaboration practices among key stakeholders within PPD FSP solutions to ensure resource flexibility, reliability and continuity.

Accelerate your clinical research with highly trained, top-tier talent.

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