Expansion of the existing eQMS to include simple applicant management
Pharmaceutical manufacturer Wiewelhove saves time and nerves thanks to digitalized applicant workflow
Printing hundreds of applications and sending them back and forth via internal mail: The pharmaceutical manufacturer Wiewelhove has replaced this analog and time-consuming old-school process with a digital and partially automated applicant workflow which was designed in cooperation with d.velop Life Sciences.
Whenever a capsule or a sugar- or film-coated tablet lands in someone’s mouth there is a good chance it came from Wiewelhove — a specialist in the contract manufacturing of solid dosage form drugs based in Ibbenbüren near Münster. Founded in 1957 as Stern-Apotheke and transferred to Wiewelhove GmbH in 1976 the company has developed rapidly over the decades. Over 4.5 billion individual doses are produced in Ibbenbüren each year including 800 million capsules, over 600 tons of sugar-coated tablets and over 500 tons of film-coated tablets produced with state-of-the-art equipment by virtue of continuous investment. However, as an innovation-driven manufacturer the pharmaceutical specialist is not only constantly modernizing its production process, but also its administration. The most recent example: the applicant workflow which Wiewelhove digitalized and automated with support from d.velop Life Sciences.
Further expanding the digital platform
Except for the new applicant workflow, digitalization at Wiewelhove was already well advanced at this point. For some time, the company has been relying on the d.velop document management system (d.3ecm) which has expanded into a comprehensive eQMS platform for many regulated GxP processes in years of close cooperation with d.velop Life Sciences.
Therefore, work and process instructions (QM manual), process descriptions, test specifications and operating instructions are already being created, checked, approved and released as controlled documents. Using the Employee Qualification Management (EQM) software, employees are successfully trained and qualifications are logged. The changes are managed digitally via workflows of the Change Control solution module, plus contracts are now managed digitally, monitored in terms of deadlines, and archived in an audit-proof manner with the d.velop Life Sciences solution.
Some time ago, the IT department already created an encrypted server on which the HR department and management store personnel data — e.g. information for each employee about the employment contract, salary documents and training courses is stored in an encrypted archive. “We then had the idea of using this secure server to digitalize applicant management as well,” says Stefan Etgeton, IT manager at Wiewelhove.
At this stage, d.velop Life Sciences left its familiar terrain and thought outside the box, jointly with Wiewelhove as a long-standing partner, and further expanded the eQMS platform for a customer-specific project.
We are presenting the implementation of the latest digitalization project in more detail below.
The original state: Human resources staff had to print out laundry baskets full of applications
And this was the original state: The up-and-coming company Wiewelhove is receiving many applications, both unsolicited applications and responses to advertised positions — from pharmaceutical technicians to mechatronics engineers and scientists to administrative staff. “There was a time when recruiters had to manage hundreds of applications that would have filled several laundry baskets,” Etgeton recalls. The challenge: The handling of these requests was not yet digitalized and automated, but mostly analog. This means: First of all, the employees had to collect and print all submissions that had reached the company by e‑mail, on their homepage or via traditional mail. Simply forwarding the applications via e‑mail was not possible at this time due to data protection regulations.
Yet, printing was not enough. The HR managers had to categorize the applicants subsequently, send digital or analog rejection letters, and pass the physical documents of promising candidates on to the heads of departments including the request that the physical documents had to be destroyed after the end of the application phase in compliance with data protection regulations. “In total, the process was stressful and unsatisfactory for everyone involved,” Etgeton says. In these circumstances, the company considered outsourcing applicant management to an external service provider. “However, this option turned out to be too expensive for us and too complicated in terms of data protection. We therefore decided to keep the data in-house and develop our own automated solution for the applicant workflow.”
In their longstanding partner d.velop Life Sciences, the IT manager found support for this project in immediate vicinity. “We knew how Wiewelhove’s IT landscape works from experience and therefore we were able to provide highly targeted support for this digitalization project,” says Rene Schüring, Senior Project Consultant at d.velop Life Sciences. “Together we developed a strategy, designed the solution on the customer’s system, verified in a test system and finally deployed the production system.” As part of the development team Wiewelhove’s HR manager was invited to express wishes regarding function and design anytime to ensure the system meets the requirements of everyday life to a tee. Etgeton: “We didn’t buy a product off the shelf but developed a really customized solution. d.velop Life Sciences once again proved to be a competent, helpful and open partner.”
“The HR managers were very enthusiastic about the new solution.”
And this is how the new solution works: As soon as a candidate fills in the application form on Wiewelhove’s website, the system generates a document and imports it to the encrypted server. At the same time, an automatic confirmation e‑mail is delivered to the sender. The employees at the HR department receive the application as a task to-do via an interface to the DMS. The responsible person starts the new workflow. Before, the pre-selection was performed manually but now classification into A‑, B- and C‑candidates is done with just a few mouseclicks on the computer — without any printouts. The applications of the pre-selected candidates are then delivered to the HR manager who then sends invitations for the interviews.
Rejection is also partially automated. “HR staff had to draft each rejection e‑mail manually. Today, they save a lot of time because the system is taking over”, says Etgeton. His colleagues just have to press the button “Write rejection”. This opens up an email template with preconfigured text modules that can be modified in respect of the candidate. And applications that reach Wiewelhove by e‑mail? This process works alike. In order to store the application documents on the encrypted server, the recipients only need to press a button within their e‑mail program. Scanned applications can be transferred from the DMS to the encrypted server just as easily. “HR staff were enthusiastic about the new solution, because now the processes around the applicant workflow work much faster and more securely.”
On top of that, Wiewelhove has digitalized the requisition workflow
As part of the digitalization process, Wiewelhove has not only digitalized the applicant workflow, but also processes related to requisitioning. This has eliminated another time-consuming process. In the past for instance, employees needing a new laptop had to enter the price and other specification into a Word file, print the document and forward it by internal mail — for investments of up to 200 euros directly to purchasing or to divisional management or the executive board otherwise. This procedure was not only time-consuming but also error-prone.
Etgeton decided to automate this process as well to save time and improve the quality of this process. “In collaboration with d.velop Life Sciences we built a mask with selection fields in which the employee can specify his or her request — including information on the article, material number and price”, explains the IT manager. When the applicant submits this form via the DMS the document automatically finds its way to the right contact person — i.e. to purchasing, divisional management or the executive board — thanks to the integrated logic within program. “Therefore, the requisition has become much faster and much more reliable. d.velop Life Sciences was exactly the right development partner for us in this respect.”