Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Outsourcing Training

Why would a medical affairs team outsource training projects?

Although training and professional development programs have traditionally been a large part of a commercial team’s budget, formalized training is a relatively new practice for Medical Affairs. A long-standing misconception has been that, because most MA professionals have advanced educations, self-directed, “on-the-job” training is “enough.” As a result, few teams have a dedicated L&D department. For teams with a ‘lead’ for training, that person has other work obligations and bandwidth can be an issue. Also, while training leads are often experts in the science and data, they may lack formal training in the principles of adult learning. For all these reasons, outsourcing training programs or specific projects is often a good option for busy Medical Affairs teams.

What is an MSA?

MSA stands for Master Services Agreement. If you are planning to perform a series of projects with a vendor or work with a vendor on an ongoing basis (e.g., as a consultant), an MSA can streamline the procurement and contracting process.

What is an SOW?

SOW stands for ‘Statement of Work’. The components of an SOW vary across organizations but are typically a detailed proposal that includes the project’s deliverables, timelines and milestones, estimated cost, and invoicing schedule. Signatures may be included in the SOW or come as a separate legal document.

What is an WO?

WO stands for ‘work order’ in procurement. This may have many of the same components of an SOW. The WO provides an internal code or number that vendors reference when invoicing the project.

What is an RFI?

RFI stands for Request for Information. RFI is a standard business process whose purpose is to collect written information about the capabilities of various suppliers. Normally it follows a format that can be used for comparative purposes, but it can be an email request for a menu of services, a brochure, or a video. An RFI is a great method to find vendors that might be able to provide services for you in the future. Vendors prefer an RFI as a first step when the customer is casting a broad net and has not refined the project parameters.

What is an RFP?

RFP stands for ‘Request for Proposal.’ Some clients may use RFQ – Request for Quote. An RFP is meant to create and establish a fair and equal-weighted process where all vendors, incumbent and potential, have the chance to become a supplier. An RFP is a highly formal and structured method of obtaining specific vendor information (including pricing). It allows you to specify the problem you wish to solve and invites vendors to suggest solutions. For strong results, the project leads need to be very clear about what issue needs to be solved and requirements for how the issue is resolved. For example, you want a Keynote speaker for an upcoming meeting. You would like the speaker to arrive in time to join the management team for lunch. That is a requirement that some speakers may or may not accommodate. You would want to know that before moving forward on the process.

Our Process

Do you have a minimum size project?

No. We understand that you might want to try a pilot or small project to see if we are the right fit for you.

Do you have a maximum project size?

No. We expand our bandwidth as needed based on the size and scope of your project.

What would a consulting agreement look like?

Medical affairs consulting services may include an initial one-time project and/or ongoing monthly services. Some teams like a vendor to be on retainer so that the management team can reach out whenever questions or issues arise.

Why would the Medical Affairs team need Versant to perform consulting services?

The management team is always under the gun and often faces bandwidth issues. You can think of Versant as your team’s internal “MSL” – able to do research for you, provide unbiased information, and let you know your options. We have managed MSL teams and stay current in the field of Medical Affairs through research, regular conference speaking and attendance, and frequent networking. We can alert you to best practices, refine your policies and internal processes, and compile information and analyses for you.

What are things to keep in mind when starting an eLearning project?
  • Needs and Wish List
  • Audience
  • Delivery platform
  • Budget
  • Timeline
  • Time commitment
What if we don't like a deliverable?

We ensure that you are involved at each step of the process – no nasty surprises at the end of the project.

In an eLearning project, for example, we begin by discussing your needs and expectations, define the curriculum, build a storyboard(s), go through multiple draft versions, and finally create the final version. Your team reviews the content at each step and provides feedback and revisions. We understand that priorities and even data needs can change during a project.

For a custom workshop, as another example, we would begin with a conversation about your team and the reasons for conducting the workshop. We will ask for specifics so that we can weave in real-life examples where possible. As former MSLs and MSL managers, we understand the types of issues and conversations that are occurring in the field and with stakeholders – we bring that expertise to your workshop.

The World of Training

What is CBT?

In training, CBT stands for ‘computer-based training’. It was an acronym that became popular in the 1980s when there was no internet (gasp!) and training was run on a computer via floppy disks. In psychology, CBT refers to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

What is ILT?

ILT stands for ‘Instructor-Led Training’ and refers to a live workshop or other face-to-face training.

What is blended learning?

Blended learning includes a mix of instructor-led training and electronic content.

What is spaced learning?

Spaced learning is a technique to increase long-term memory retention. It has been found to be effective in various domains, from sales training to language learning to medicine (Caple, 1997; Castel, Logan, Haber, & Viehman, 2012; Grote, 1995; Kerfoot et al., 2007; Lambert, 2009; Landauer & Ross, 1977; Lehmann-Willenbrock & Kauffeld, 2010; Toppino & Cohen, 2010).  In a training program, learners are introduced to a concept or learning objective and then a period of time passes (days, weeks, or months) before the same concept is presented again. This might involve a few repetitions, or many, depending on the complexity of the content.

What is the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve?

Ebbinghaus found the “forgetting curve” – the time over which a person forgets newly learned information – to be exponential in nature. Memory retention is 100% at the time of learning, however, it drops rapidly to 40% within the first few days. After this, the declination of memory retention slows. Ebbinghaus’ goal was to find the lawful relation between retention and time-since-learning. To do this, he fit the data to two different functions, a power function (1880), and a logarithmic function (1885). NOTE: This experiment was replicated and published in PLoS One in 2015. You can read it at

What does AICC stand for?

The Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee (AICC) was an international association of technology-based training professionals in the aviation industry. It disbanded in 2014.

What is xAPI stand for?

In training, xAPI stands for Experience API. API means Application Programming Interface. In October 2012, the AICC announced that it had adopted the Experience API (xAPI) specification (a.k.a. “Tin Can”). As an example, let’s say a learner is taking a course on Ancient Greece. In addition to the standard learning formats (e.g., reading, tests) the learner is also required to visit a designated museum and record visits to specific locations within the museum. That type of “experiential” learning is what xAPI systems document. Learn more about xAPI at  In the pharma industry, API also stands for ‘active pharmaceutical ingredient’.

What is an LMS?

A Learning Management System (LMS) is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, and delivery of educational courses or training programs.

LMSs are focused on online learning delivery but support a range of uses, acting as a platform for fully online courses, as well as several hybrid forms, such as blended learning and flipped classrooms.

What is a SCORM?

SCORM is a publishing standard that is used by LMSs. You can think of SCORM as another type of application – like Word or Excel or PowerPoint. Although SCORM is a group of files housed in a zip folder (rather than a single .docx or .xlxs file, for example), it is easiest to envision a SCORM as “the module” or “the course” that a learner sees when logging into an LMS. Find out more at

What is a Tin Can?

Tin Can is another name for xAPI.

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