Quick facts about Affimed: streamlined mandatory training

  • Industry: Biotech, Pharmaceutical
  • HQ: Mannheim, Germany
  • Established: 2000
  • Website: www.affimed.com

Challenge: Disorganization of mandatory training

Affimed is a biotech company developing innovative treatments for cancer. Headquartered in Germany, the company employs over 150 people and is listed on the NASDAQ exchange.

Previously, the company had started with a paper-based training system because of its small number of employees, but as the company grew, the paper-based training system became more and more complex in its oversight.

What the company lacked was a streamlined learning system to support the copious mandatory training required by their staff.

Learn365 has transformed our mandatory learning, allowing us to move away from a cumbersome manual system. The experience for learners is much better with a simplified process. The time spent administering the system has been reduced. And our oversight levels and quality of training have increased. Everyone is really happy with the system.”

Sylvia Peter, Head of Clinical QA, Affimed

Solution: Streamlined training management with Learn365

As a pharmaceutical company, Affimed has specialist training needs. Sylvia Peter, Head of Clinical QA, explains, “Our industry is highly regulated. To be compliant, we need to demonstrate that employees are trained in areas such as conducting clinical trials.”

Affimed had a paper-based system where employees maintained their own training records; this was highly complicated and provided very little oversight. Sylvia Peter adds:

As our training needs become more complex, it becomes harder to do everything manually. We needed a digital learning platform.

The team started to review the market, looking for a solution based on Microsoft 365.  Marc Magdsack, Vice-President of IT, shares, “We are a Microsoft company. We wanted to leverage technology we had already paid for, required no customization and that we knew how to administer. A good experience for learners was also key.”

The solution also needed to be cost-effective. Tim Behrendt, VP of HR & Internal Communications comments, “The solution needed to have all the right features, but we didn’t want to pay for functionality we wouldn’t use.”

Learn365 not only met technical and financial requirements but also the needs of learners and course administrators.

It was easy to integrate data and course material. We also got positive feedback from a group of users who tested out the system.

Tim Behrendt, VP of HR & Internal Communications, Affimed

Implementing Learn365 was straightforward. Marc Magdsack remarks, “It only took a few clicks to get the live system running.”  Finally, in January 2023, Learn365 launched to all 150+ employees.

Results: Secure training delivered through Microsoft 365 tools

Today, Learn365 is being used by all employees for Affimed’s program of streamlined mandatory training. Employees access Learn365 directly, sometimes through the email invitations they receive or via the company’s SharePoint intranet, taking advantage of Single Sign-On for easy access.

Courses are in English, although some are translated into German. Employees are trained upon policies, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and more. Learn365 is also being used for some mandatory IT training on information security as well as specific applications like Adobe Sign.

Moving away from the paper-based system has transformed the experience of mandatory learning for both users and administrators, at the same time increasing levels of oversight, while slashing the effort required.

The paper system was decentralized with every employee maintaining their own training documentation. There was a lack of oversight, and it took huge manual effort to see how compliant people were. With the reporting in the new system, we can see exactly the level of compliance real-time and send out reminders if compliance is not high enough and a due date is coming up. Now we have reliable KPIs that we can share with our regulators.

Sylvia Peter, Head of Clinical QA

Michaela Sommer, Sr. Manager Quality Systems & CSV, adds, “The paper system was also very time-consuming. Collecting all the training folders from employees and looking through them took many days and was also prone to mistakes.”

Learners don’t miss the paper-based system either. And, Learn365 also meets requirements from a compliance perspective:

Moving away from the paper system has been welcomed by employees. We’ve had positive feedback as they no longer have to identify their own needs, document their training and keep a paper record. Now they are assigned to specific training plans in the Learn365 system, receive reminders and easily see what the learning they still need to complete. Additionally, a key element of the system is that you can’t manipulate data. Everything is recorded in an audit trail with all changes visible in the system.

Tim Behrendt, VP of HR & Internal Communications

An LMS that listens and expands

The team also appreciates that they have been able to influence the Learn365 product roadmap to fulfill their specialist compliance needs. Marc Magdsack says, “We suggested a new feature to ensure there was a fuller audit trail for administrators to satisfy our regulators. Learn365 received the feedback and eventually delivered it as part of the platform. It’s a good approach.”

Another advantage of Learn365 is the ability to add control questions to ensure learning has been truly understood. Tim Behrendt comments, “In the paper system we only had a signature to say learners had completed the training.  Now they need to complete questions to show the extent to which they have understood it.”

One of the advantages of Learn365’s seamless integration with Microsoft 365 is that it means Affimed can leverage existing Azure Active Directory (AAD) groups to target training to the right employees.

When we send out training invitations, we use groups set up before in Azure. We also have a group of all employees so when a new employee is added to the address book, they are automatically invited for those trainings that all colleagues need to complete.

Tim Behrendt, VP of HR & Internal Communications

Using AAD groups has also allowed the team to extend the number of different training groups to nearly 50, meeting Affimed’s highly complex mandatory training needs. Michaela Sommer comments, “Learn365 allows us to review our whole training matrix and tailor our content to even more groups. We can truly design the system around the departments that have policies or procedures and who needs to know about each of them.”

Future: Maximizing the full potential of Learn365

Currently, Affimed is focusing on using Learn365 to deliver targeted and streamlined mandatory training.  However, there are plans to extend the scope of learning covered.

At the moment we are not really using Learn365 for wider learning and ongoing development, but we are planning to look into what training we can add to the system.

Tim Behrendt, VP of HR & Internal Communications

The team is considering how they can use Learn365 for employees to register for and record face-to-face training. Syliva Peter shares her hopes for the future:

We want to look a little bit deeper into how we record classroom-based training and how you show evidence that everyone participated.

Reflecting on the success of the platform to date, Tim Behrendt feels that Learn365 has transformed learning at the company.

Learn365 has been a game changer. The quality of training is better, and oversight has improved. Moving away from the paper system has been welcomed by everybody and the feedback has been very positive. We’re looking forward to continuing to use Learn365 to evolve learning at Affimed.

About Affimed

Affimed is a biotech company developing innovative treatments for cancer. Headquartered in Germany, the company employs over 150 people and is listed on the NASDAQ exchange. It has two small offices in the US.