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Centralized Monitoring – avoiding the trap of the ‘nagging machine'

Updated: Feb 27, 2020

When working on a number of trials in recent months setting up and reviewing Centralized Monitoring (CM) dashboards, I’ve noticed that we are always focused on the sites that are performing poorly, which is, of course, important. But what are we doing to praise and encourage the sites that are performing well? And if we neglect them, are we potentially creating the poor performing sites of the future?

One of the things I notice in our dashboards and CM review discussions is the propensity for us to focus on sites that are flagged as red, or where their metrics are far from the thresholds we have defined.  But what about the sites that are doing well? Are we having meetings/calls with these sites to let them know they are doing well, showing them how we are viewing their data and why we are happy with what they are doing?  Positive reinforcement is so important to maintaining relationships and performance.

Often CM is pitched as reducing activities with sites that are performing well, but we don’t want to neglect them altogether.  I also think this is something to consider when we are engaging with poor performing sites.  In our internal worlds, we prioritize and plan activities, and when things are going wrong we work out recovery plans. But often with our sites, we are pointing out things we need them to do better, but not always supporting them, and so we become a bit of a nagging machine. When we engage with these sites should we be re-framing the conversation and discussing with them a very specific plan to get back on track. For example, if their outstanding queries are high, can we ask, how many do you think you will be able to respond to/resolve each week?  Ok, if you do 10 per week, it will take you 6 weeks to get back on track. Or when we contact the sites, can we look at what is going well, so they don’t need to worry/focus on that so much, and for a period of time they can switch their focus for a while to the items that are going off track.

The vast majority of sites want to do a good job. They don’t deliberately set out to do a poor job, so we should be using the data we have from our centralized monitoring dashboards to let them know what’s going well, what they need to focus on for now and putting a specific recovery plan in place. Just like we would if it was one of our internal team members who were struggling with performance in some areas.


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