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Monthly Archives: December 2014

Happy Holidays from RA eClinica

Thank you very much for being a great reader in 2014. What a whirlwind year it has been with many new posts  being released.

Until the 5th of January please contact us using the usual methods found here. If you’re unable to get through via the phone then please leave a detailed message including your company name and phone number and we will return your call as soon as possible.

Once again we wish you a happy holiday season. We look forward to sharing a successful and exciting 2015 with all of our customers and readers.

RA eClinical Solutions 2015

 

 

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From Non-SAS Programmer to SAS Programmer

SAS Programmers come from many different educational backgrounds. Many has started their careers as a Data Manager in a CRO environment and grew to become a SAS programmer. Others have gone to college and pursued degrees in math, statistics or computer science degree.

Do you have SAS Skills? First, you need to find out more about statistical programming desire skills and start to slowly learn what SAS programmers and statisticians do in the pharmaceutical industry. It is also important to understand the Drug Development and Regulatory process so that you have a better understanding of the industry as a whole as well as the drug approval process.

In addition, I have personally attended several workshop on Statistics for Non-statistician provided by several of my past employers/clients (GSK, Sanofi-Aventis, etc) so I could have a greater understanding of statistics role. I am personally more inclined to the EDC development than becoming a biostatistician but these are just some of the few steps you could take to grow your career as a SAS programmer.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

To begin learning how to actually program in SAS, it would be a good idea to enroll to a SAS course provided by the SAS Institute near you or via eLearning. I have taken the course SAS Programming 1: Essentials, and I would recommended. You could also join SUGI conferences and other user groups near your city/country. Seek every opportunity to help you gain further understanding on how to efficiently program in the pharmaceutical industry. It could well land you a Junior SAS programming position.

Transitioning to a SAS Programming role: Now that you have gotten your first SAS programming job, you will need to continue your professional development and attend additional training, workshops, seminars and study workgroup meetings. The SAS Institute provide a second level, more advance course Programming II: Manipulating Data with the Data Step, SAS Macro Language and SAS macro Programming Advanced topics. There are also SAS certifications courses available to help you prepare to become a SAS certified programmer.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel: Advance!

Your ongoing development will be very exciting and challenging. Continued attending SAS classes as needed and attending industry related conferences such as PharmaSUG to gain additional knowledge and insight on how to perform your job more effectively and efficiently.

As you can see, it is possible to ‘grow’ a SAS programmer from a non-programming background to an experience programmer. All of the classes, training, and projects you will work on are crucial in expanding your SAS knowledge and will allow you to have a very exciting career opportunity ahead of you.

Anayansi Gamboa has an extensive background in clinical data management as well as experience with different EDC systems including Oracle InForm, InForm Architect, Central Designer, CIS, Clintrial, Medidata Rave, Central Coding, OpenClinica Open Source and Oracle Clinical.

 

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Project Plan: CDISC Implementation

Project Plan: CDISC Implementation

CDISC standards have been in development for many years. There are now methodologies and technologies that would make the transformation of non-standard data into CDISC-compliance with ease. Clinical trials have evolved and become more complex and this requires a new set of skills outside of clinical research – Project Management.

As with many projects, CDISC is a huge undertake. It requires resources, technology and knowledge-transfer. The industry (FDA for example) has been working on standardization for years but on September 2013, it became official, in which the FDA released a ‘Position Statement‘.

So what is CDISC? We can say that it is way of naming convention for XPT files, or field names naming conventions or rules for handling unusual data. Currently, there are two main components of CDISC: SDTM (Study Data Tabulation Model) and aDAM (Analysis Data Model).

As a project manager and with the right tool, you can look to a single source project information to manage the project through its life-cycle – from planning, through execution, to completion.

1) Define Scope: This is where you’re tested on everything that has to do with getting a project up and running: what’s in the charter, developing the preliminary scope, understanding what your stakeholders need, and how your organization handles projects.

The scope document is a form of a requirement document which will help you identify the goals for this project. It can also be used as a communication method to other managers and team members to set the appropriate level of expectations.

The project scope management plan is a really important tool in your project. You need to make sure that what you’re delivering matches what you wrote down in the scope statement.

2) Define Tasks: we now need to document all the tasks that are required in implementing and transforming your data to CDISC.

Project Tasks (Work packages) Estimates (work unit)
Initial data standards review 27
Data Integrity review 17
Create transformation models 35

The work breakdown structure (wbs) provides the foundation for defining work as it relates to project objectives. The scope of work in terms of deliverables and to facilitate communication between the project manager and stakeholders throughout the life of the project. Hence, even though, preliminary at first, it is a key input to other project management processes and deliverables.

3) Project Plan: Once we completed the initiation phase (preliminary estimates), we need to create a project plan assigning resources to project and schedule those tasks. Project schedules can be presented in many ways, including simple lists, bar charts with dates, and network logic diagrams with dates, to name just a few.

A sample of the project plan is shown below:

project plan sample

image from Meta‐Xceed paper about CDISC

4) Validation Step: Remember 21 CFR Part 11 compliance for Computer Systems Validation? The risk management effort is not a one-time activity on the project. Uncertainty is directly associated with the change being produced by a project.

The following lists some of the tasks that are performed as it pertains to validation.

  • Risk Assessment: Different organizations have different approaches towards validation of programs. This is partly due to varying interpretations of the regulations and also due to how different managers and organizations function. Assess the level of validation that needs to take place.
  • Test Plan: In accordance with the project plan and, if not, to determine how to address any deviation. Test planning is essential in: ensuring testing identifies and reveals as many errors as possible and to acceptable levels of quality.

test plan-cdisc

  • Summary Results: This is all the findings documented during testing.

An effective risk management process involves first identifying and defining risk factors that could affect the various stages of the CDISC implementation process as well as specific aspects of the project.

riskplan

5) Transformation Specification: Dataset transformation is a process in which a set of source datasets and its variables are changed to meet new standard requirements.

Some changes will occur during this step:

For example, variable name must be 8 chars long. The variable label must not be more than 40 chars in length. Combining values from multiple sources (datasets) into on variable.

6) Applying Transformation: This is done according to specification however, this document is active during the duration of a project and can change. There are now many tools available to help with this tasks as it could be time consuming and resource intensive to update the source code (SAS) manually. Transdata, CDISCXpres, SAS CDI, Define-it; just to name a few.

7) Verification Reports: The validation test plan will detail the specific test cases that need to be implemented to ensure quality of the transformation. For example, a common report is the “Duplicate Variable” report.

8) Special Purpose Domain: CDISC has several special purpose domains: CO (comments), RELREC (related records or relationship between two datasets) and SUPPQUAL (supplemental qualifiers for non-standards variables).

9) Data Definition Documentation: In order to understand what all the variables are and how they are derived, we need a annotation document. This is the document that will be included during data submission. SAS PROC CONTENTS can help in the generation of this type of metadata documentation.

The last step in the project plan for CDISC implementation is to generate the documentation in either PDF or XML format.

CDISC has established data standards to speed-up data review and FDA is now suggesting that soon this will become the norm. Pharmaceuticals, bio-technologies companies and many sponsors within clinical research are now better equipped to improve CDISC implementation.

Need SAS programmers? We can help provide resources in-house / off-shore to facilitate FDA review by supporting CDISC mapping, SDTM validation tool, data conversion and CDASH compliant eCRFs.

 

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Taking productivity to the next level

1) TAKE TASKS WITH YOU

Got mobile? There are plenty of free apps and plugins available to ensure your tasks are always there for you. Pick the best and stick to it.

2) ORGANIZE YOUR EMAIL INBOX

Integrate your mobile app with your email web tool. We like Thunderbird, as it is allows you to turn an email into a task with one click. Organize those email tasks any way you like, color code them, and add due dates and reminders.

3) BREAK TASKS DOWN

Small tasks are easier to complete than bigger ones, so break big tasks into a number of smaller sub-tasks that can be completed in less than an hour. This will allow you to estimate the total time involved more accurately.

4) TRACK YOUR PRODUCTIVITY

Efficiency is up and employee independence is maintained.

Now go ahead a scheduled a bike ride on those Dutch roads (We know. it is cold but the Dutchies like their bike lines).

What tools / apps do you use and recommend?

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2014 in Project Management, Tips & Tricks

 

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Good Documentation Practice (GDP) for the EDC / SAS Developer

When writing programming codes for either validating the software or for validation checks, we often have to write comments to explain why we did something.

Since the FDA regulates computerized systems used in clinical trials under the authority of Title 21 the Code of Federal Regulations Part 11 (21 CFR Part 11) – see my other article about 21 CFR Part 11 here, we need to make sure our codes and programs are documented. As you have heard before, if it is not documented, it never happened. Nevertheless, there is no mandatory regulatory agency mandating to have to do this.

GDP is an expected practice”

So how much documentation is needed? We could get into endless discussions of when we should comment, what we should comment, and how much we should comment. I have had plenty of discussions about comments with people with various opinions on the subject.

Here’s a good documentation practice for a SAS code:

For more information please visit the original post at: {EDC} Developer

Need a clinical programmer, Data Programmers (Oracle/SAS/.NET) EDC Specialists (InForm, RDC, Rave)?

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