Building SOLABS’ User Community & the SOLABS QM User Group Meeting
SOLABS Community - 18 May 2016
Every year for the past several years, we’ve hosted the SOLABS QM User Group Meeting (UGM), both as a learning and social gathering and for users to get the pulse of their Life Sciences industry peers and Quality in general. SOLABS’ Director of Sales and Marketing Ericka Moore sat down to speak with us recently about the 2016 edition of the UGM, and to share some of her thoughts about building the SOLABS QM user community. This is Part I of the discussion. Part II can be found here.
SOLABS: So, you must be feeling pretty good about this year’s UGM?
Ericka Moore [EM]: Every year I am always pleasantly surprised by our SOLABS QM UGM. I think we can say that the choice of venue, Auberge du Vieux-Port in Old Montreal, was inspired. We got to immerse people in some of the history—the cobblestones, the wrought-iron gates, and all the gorgeous accoutrements that make Montreal so singular—and they really get a taste for some of what we appreciate as the world-class nature of this city. It’s awesome introducing people to the unmatched fine dining, the historic sites and the charming French-Canadian culture.
Although planning this event is incredibly demanding and nerve-racking, every year it turns out to be both fun and instructive for our user community. We feel very fortunate to get people to show up: in a business world where budgets are being closely scrutinized, companies are facing regular audits and inspections, new products are being launched, etc., they show up anyway–because they see great value in this event, and we’re more than pleased to stage it and to host them.
This year, we had clients, partners, and our Best Practices Unit all present [all presenters pictured above], which were a really nice addition and a generator of more in-depth, engaging content for the audience. Our users shared new ways of getting tasks done using our Enterprise Quality Management System, SOLABS QM, and the feedback we received on the presentations was simply fantastic!
It’s a dream come true for me, seeing the daily use of our software through the eyes of real users. It allows us to go back to the drawing table, and continue to develop a product that is aligned with what is currently going on at the ground level in the Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology and Medical Device industries.
"SOLABS has always been big into community building, but it’s not something that can be done overnight, without much effort. It’s something [we] have been working on for years now."
SOLABS: So we hold the UGM, but we learn equally as much from our users, it sounds like?
EM: I see the UGM as being highly collaborative; we’re putting together presentations and workshops to help our users optimize their use of SOLABS QM, but at the same time we’re also learning from them. I cannot emphasize enough how rewarding it is to have clients who value our product and our shared approach enough that they are willing to present in front of other clients! You can’t ask for dedication like that–it is something that just emerges organically when you are able to develop a real, meaningful business partnership with a client.
Our Best Practices Unit, which we originally created with Brian Graeff (former VP of Quality Operations at Sunovion), is also now becoming a real team of experts in different fields related to Enterprise Quality Management Systems. Brian along with John Carkner (former President & CEO at Pillar5), who both presented this year, give us some hard-earned legitimacy in the field. We’ve been working for over a decade now to build our Best Practices Unit, to give us insight into how things are done in the trenches, and it is really bearing fruit for us.
This UGM is obviously a great way for clients to get together, network, and discuss best practices, but there’s also the aspect that we’re building a community here—and that is very exciting for SOLABS as a software company! SOLABS has always been big into community building, but it’s not something that can be done overnight, without much effort. It’s something Philippe, our CEO, and I along with our Sales and Marketing team, have been working on for years now.
With the UGM, and connecting with clients through our website and social media, we’ve managed to make good progress. But this year, we’ve also put together a Documentation team to build a User Documentation Portal, which aims to bring the user community interaction to a whole new level! As an end goal, we would like to see a really impassioned group of people growing together professionally, to optimize their Quality Systems with SOLABS QM with the goal of improving their overall Operations.
Read Part II of our interview with Ericka Moore.