Why should you care about Veeva Vault Governance?


Adilla Parish

As an industry-leading Digital Asset Management Solution, Veeva Vault is an invaluable tool, utilised by pharmaceutical and healthcare organisations across the globe.

One of Veeva Vault’s most valuable assets is its ability to integrate the content certification process into the overarching content workflow. Put simply, this means that you can certify a piece of content, test the marketing material (email or other closed loop marketing) associated with it, approve and distribute it to the relevant internal field teams in one simple process.

This seamless process is a game changer when it comes to content scalability and compliance. In an industry where minor discrepancies within medical and legal codes can lead to significant fines, the ability to withdraw material with complete confidence that all associated content will be removed could save a brand a significant amount of time and money – not to mention their reputation.

Before you stop reading, this is not an advertorial for Veeva vault! Because, like any product, Veeva Vault is only as good, effective and compliant as its owner. Without understanding the processes that you as an organisation need to implement and maintain, Veeva Vault’s most powerful tool won’t ensure your compliance. After all, if you fall off your bike, your expensive helmet won’t help you if it’s on the shelf at home.

The potential of Veeva Vault is exactly as described above. However, without a flexible approach to governance, Veeva can quickly cease being a force to good; in fact, it can easily become a bit of a mess. In reality, few organisations use Veeva to its full potential – most barely delve below the surface of the application’s immense possibilities and are, as a result, left wondering what the hype was about.

It may not come as a surprise that this is down to governance. But understanding why, and how you can address the issues that you face can be a little more complex. Usually, Veeva vault’s governance issues can be tracked back to one (or more) of three causes:

  • The way in which administrators manage mandatory fields
  • Lack of staff training
  • Salesforcetest configuration

The way in which administrators manage mandatory fields

We know that Veeva vault has the capability to ensure compliance. However, when it works with one or more additional systems, it is essential that all of the systems are correctly adjusted; there is no point in assuring governance on one system if that command or alteration isn’t picked up along the rest of the chain. In short, the failure to ensure that all platforms are updated will result in broken governance.

Administrators have the unenviable task of ensuring that drop-down menus adhere to the correct conventions and brand MDM setups while making sure that the interface with Salesforce test account is seamless. Doing this with a few brands is a challenge, especially if they are updated frequently. Throw in bi-annual workflow updates to multiple legacy issues overlapping with expanding requirements from brand managers and the opportunities for error are significant.

There are a few simple steps that can be taken to make users’ lives easier and mitigate risk, including:

  • Prevent the issue of non-tallying fields by ensuring that everything that should appear on Salesforce does appear on Salesforce.
  • Limit the number of edge cases created by allowing new brands to assume the properties (including mapping) of their parent brands.
  • Prevent breaks in governance by checking that agreed configuration and links still exist after the system has updated.

We can sympathise with administrators and the challenges that they face! However, it is their job to ensure that their organisation is able to produce digital materials, compliantly. This means that a central part of their job is to ensure that all platforms correspond to each other and everything is as it should be, every time a change is made.

Lack of staff training

Traditionally, staff training consists of a couple of sessions about the system during induction week. It all seems to make sense, albeit the context may be a little vague. Not surprisingly, six months later, when a member of staff has actually started using the system, they are casting their mind back six months to remember where to find a field or, in fact, if the field even existed. Sound familiar?

The fact of the matter is, that without context, it is easy for even the most able members of staff to forget or misinterpret training, which means that much of their training is forgotten by the end of the week. If you are going to invest in a state of the art platform, you need to make sure that your staff have the right training to get the most out of it.

However, the limitations in normal staff training extend beyond simply racking your brains or consulting a colleague on a function. Many organisations have been in the situation where office go-to for advice on a system is promoted, fired or has moved on to pastures new, and you find yourself looking on the company Wiki, only to realise that the document you need is years out of date.

As far as Veeva is concerned, updating information is a fairly simple process. The challenge is to ensure that everyone knows about the changes. One simple action is to spread the knowledge by having multiple champions within an organisation. Not only will this mitigate the risk of you losing valuable knowhow in one go, but it allows for organic knowledge transfer across a broader network of people. Lower risk, higher efficiency – it’s a no brainer.

Salesforce test configuration

Although not technically Veeva, Salesforce test is a crucial element to maintaining governance, so it is worth mentioning. A big hole in the partnership between Salesforce and Veeva – and any other platforms – is that it is not guaranteed that changes (and therefore governance) will automatically roll out across platforms. The use of Salesforce Test can reduce this hole, however, there is a wide range of scope when it comes to account organisation, roles and permissions – and this does have the potential to cause confusion, especially for our global clients who have a differing level of permissions across geographies.

We have found that the safest way to work is via the creation of a Master Account, which has permissions to view every brand on the system, and which can be accessed and edited by partners so that they can ensure that everything is connected and working. In addition to the Master Account, we usually recommend having a series of brand-specific, single-specialism Salesforce accounts. This two-tiered approach means that someone will have access to a working environment at all times.

Final thought

It goes without saying that we all dream of a platform that enables collaborators to perform their tasks in synchrony. When a platform is allowed to grow unchecked without a framework, the impact isn’t necessarily immediate – which makes it more dangerous. Like any major structural damage, the cracks build up over the months before culminating in an event or error that negatively impacts everyone’s ability to perform, potentially impacting the time for urgent go to market changes.
Although the risks of breaking governance or impeding performance are fairly high, it is not all doom and gloom. We believe that the secret to addressing this issue is as simple as 1-2-3:

  • Understand what your platform can do.
  • Understand how your platform(s) is being used currently.
  • Ascertain what you need to do to bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be (define administrator roles, improve training, ensure effective use of Salesforce Test).

If you have stuck with us this far, the chances are that you have found what we are saying useful. We pride ourselves in helping clients to make the most out of their platforms, optimising functionality, and effectiveness, as well as governance and, will be happy to talk to you about any of the topics, touched on above, and beyond. Whether you have a team that needs a bit of a refresh, or you are only just dipping your toe into the world of permissions, fields and orange and grey backdrops, get in touch – whether you want to share your stories or ask our advice, it would be great to hear from you.

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