4 Tips for Leading a Successful Clinical SAS Programming Project

SAS Programming for Clinical Trial

A good leader uses all of the tools available to figure out the most effective way to get people to respond +  accomplish the tasks required in a timely manner.

The following post was submitted by Steve Michaelson, Senior Clinical SAS Programmer + Project Manager at SimulStat

With 16+ years as a Clinical SAS Programmer and Project Manager Consultant for pharma and biotech companies, I’ve faced a lot of challenges. And by working through these challenges, I’ve come up with a list of four important factors I believe it takes to lead a successful project in this industry.

1.    Take time to develop the right plan + process for the client.
Are canned programs, global format catalogs and macro libraries, documented SOPs and established processes the right tools to develop without asking the right questions? In other words, ask yourself, “Is this process the right fit for this project at this time in this company?” I don’t want my programming and process development to be “just another client’s requirements”. Instead, consider the bigger picture of planning for the future. My contribution should be my personal best each and every time and customized to meet the client’s needs efficiently now and into the future.

2.    Exercise patience + flexibility when entering a project that’s already underway.
There are always inherent issues to the data collection process that die or move on with the turnover of personnel. These scenarios make coming into a client’s project in the middle of a trial at any stage a challenge of grandiose proportions. Not to worry though, it takes a patient mindset, massive amounts of organization and a real introspective approach toward communication to succeed in such an environment. After all, it’s your job as a Clinical SAS Programmer and a Project Lead to bring this broken pile of individual parts together and make a high performance, smooth running machine to the fruition of a successful drug or device submission.

3.    Find the right communication strategy to motivate your team.
The right communication style is key to successfully leading a project. A truly dedicated leader takes the time to recognize the ways individuals on a team communicate. Understanding the best way to relate to each person on your team is imperative. Some folks need a profuse amount of details and direction as well as a “hand-hold, while others need very little input and walk away with a complete understanding of what needs to get accomplished. Some need detailed emails and others need pretty charts and pictures, everything from lists to Gantt charts. A good leader uses all of the tools available to figure out the most effective way to get people to respond and accomplish the tasks required in a timely manner.

4.    Learn and grow from past projects
I did not wake up with these skills. And although I am sure some can be taught, the most effective way to master them is on the job, dealing with real people and real situations. Are you an experienced team leader with tips on running a successful project? I’d like to hear them. Please share your comments below.

Clinical SAS Programmer/Project ManagerAbout Steve Michaelson
Steve is a Clinical SAS Programmer/Project Manager at SimulStat Incorporated. He has spent the last 25 years as an SAS programmer with the last 16 years in the Biotech and Pharmaceuticals industries.


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