Customer Story

Linear Clinical Research: Supporting remote working, BYOD and data loss prevention with Google Workspace

With Google Workspace, Linear Clinical Research seamlessly transitioned its workers to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic and improved the management and control of internal and personally-owned devices connected to its network and data.

Google Cloud Results

Enabled seamless transition to remote working for staff during the coronavirus pandemic

• Stores 1 million + files in a secure, easy to access environment
• Enhances data governance, including data loss prevention
• Enables seamless collaboration and access to current data from any location

Clinical trials are key to the detection, treatment and prevention of diseases and medical conditions, and involve research and investigation based on volunteer testing of new treatments, interventions or tests. In Australia, Linear Clinical Research (Linear) – based in the QEII Medical Centre in Perth – is fast becoming a focal point for these activities, having conducted 350+ clinical trials since being founded in 2010. “By 2025, we aim to become an iconic Western Australian company transforming healthcare through science, and our mission is to improve health and access to innovative medical therapies,” says Scott Thompson, Head of Corporate Operations, Linear. “We do this through a technology-led approach to the delivery of clinical trials trials for leading global biopharma across complex early phase trials, with specialist expertise in oncology trials.”

Demand for its services has prompted the organization to grow from 10 to 250+ employees and from a single to multiple facilities. “Over the last five years, our early phase oncology trials have been a major area of growth,, so we’ve invested a lot of resources into our team in that area,” says Scott.

Linear initially relied on applications and services accessed from on-premises servers to enable employees to email, work on files and complete other day to day tasks. 2016 saw Linear’s leadership pursue and invest in a technology enabled platform to drive a change in mindset and direction. The strategy prioritized using digital technologies to improve business strategy outcomes, and giving staff the flexibility to move around and work offsite without compromising collaboration.

The organization wanted to achieve these objectives while reducing its reliance on a single vendor to support the infrastructure running its systems.

Supporting business growth and direction

“Google Workspace has been a fundamental element of Linear’s tech enabled clinical trial service. It has helped us establish a digitally enabled culture, pilot new business models and been part of our adaptive response to the COVID-19 threat that has seen us grow significantly throughout the last 12 months.” -- Jayden Rogers, Chief Executive Officer, Linear

While Linear did not establish any hard metrics when reviewing workplace productivity and collaboration tools, its leadership was determined that any solution selected would support the growth and direction of the business. “We were growing our business development team and they were travelling globally,” says Scott. “We needed to give them the ability to log into a workplace suite in real time and work with the up-to-date information they needed to do their jobs better.”

Linear also wanted to improve the employee and management experience, and viewed a bring-your-own device (BYOD) policy and a solution that enabled its people to work off site as key to this objective. “We gave every staff member an allowance to support the BYOD policy and enable them to connect to our chosen collaboration suite,” says Scott.

At the same time, the business had outgrown its single facility and needed to enable the staff required to work elsewhere to connect to workplace applications and services.

A strong advocate of Google Workspace

“It’s very refreshing to use a product that is always evolving – I thoroughly enjoy using Google Workspace and I know everyone else here does as well.” -- Scott Thompson, Head of Corporate Operations, Linear

While the industry typically used traditional cloud-based workplace applications, Linear’s leadership became strong advocates of Google Workspace and Google Cloud. “This stance was different to what a lot of other people and organizations in our sector were doing at the time, and it was exciting to go down a different path,” says Scott. “Google Workspace ticked all the boxes of giving us more flexibility and enabling our employees and managers to collaborate effectively from different locations.”

The organization moved to Google Workspace and the suite is now the standard across its 250+ strong workforce.

Because Google Workspace was comparatively new to the clinical sector in Australia, Linear had to assure the Therapeutic Goods Administration and sponsors that audited clinical trials regulators and auditors the product met all their requirements. “We saw this as an opportunity within our space to lead the way and show other businesses that there are alternative ways of doing things,” says Scott.

Gmail meets all the organization’s requirements for reliable, intuitive and easy-to-organize email, while Drive provides a secure, scalable location for file storage, sharing and collaboration. Linear has stored 1 million+ files in Drive, including quality management systems documentation created in Docs and financial reporting spreadsheets developed in Sheets.

Forms supports key tasks

“The more advanced identity management features in Google Workspace Enterprise would help us mature our bring your own device policy.” -- Scott Thompson, Head of Corporate Operations, Linear

Linear uses Forms extensively to gather information, conduct surveys or capture requests. “We prepared and ran a coronavirus questionnaire through Forms,” explains Scott. “When visitors came to our facilities, we asked them to fill out the questionnaire on a tablet. Through Forms, we could populate all the information captured on a Sheet and score the responses. If a visitor did not answer the question favorably, the relevant person within our organization would receive an alert and be able to respond appropriately.”

The organization also uses Forms to create requests for information that support the procurement of technology solutions. The RFI may go to 30 vendors and ask them to complete the form, with the organization able to score the responses as part of its evaluation process.

By early 2020, Linear wanted to audit its Google Workspace domain to identify opportunities for improvement. The Google Workspace team connected Linear with an expert service management business to conduct an independent health check and security assessment.

While the partner assessed Linear’s Google Workspace configuration and security posture favorably, it recommended a move to Google Workspace Enterprise. “The migration would give us access to tools that provided alerts and notifications we could act on quickly and drill down into for further insights,” says Scott. “This would allow us to undertake data loss prevention across Gmail and Drive. Furthermore, the more advanced identity management features in Google Workspace Enterprise would help us mature our bring your own device policy.”

These capabilities aligned with Linear’s focus over 2020 on data governance and associated strategies, policies and standards, and in strengthening its digital and cyber posture.

With Google Workspace Enterprise, Linear can ensure highly sensitive medical and personal information is not stored or shared in the cloud application suite, and protect data that is, such as finance and human resources records.

Seamless transition to working from home

“There was no noticeable impact on the ability of our employees to perform their roles because, with Google Workspace, we already had the tools in place, people were familiar with them and there was no burden on our technology team. That was our greatest win and happened because we were on the right path to begin with.” -- Scott Thompson, Head of Corporate Operations, Linear

At the same time, Linear had to respond to government measures to control the coronavirus pandemic, and sent 80% of its employees to work from home. With Google Workspace and a bring your own device policy, Linear completed the transition seamlessly. “There was no noticeable impact on the ability of our employees to perform their roles because, with Google Workspace, we already had the tools in place, people were familiar with them and there was no burden on our technology team,” says Scott. “That was our greatest win and happened because we were on the right path to begin with.”

The next step for Linear is to devote more internal resources to maximizing the value and contribution Google Workspace Enterprise makes to the business.

Scott believes Google Workspace Enterprise is key to Linear’s mission of improving health and access to innovative medical therapies. “Going paperless is a key enabler of Linear’s strategy and Google Workspace is helping us get there,” he says. “It enables us to be flexible, we can work from anywhere and connect to the data we need to at any time.

“It’s very refreshing to use a product that is always evolving – I thoroughly enjoy using Google Workspace and I know everyone else here does as well.

“Google Workspace has been a fundamental element of Linear’s tech enabled clinical trial service,” adds Jayden Rogers, Chief Executive Officer, Linear. “ It has helped us establish a digitally enabled culture, pilot new business models and been part of our adaptive response to the COVID-19 threat that has seen us grow significantly throughout the last 12 months.”

*Google Workspace was formerly known as G Suite prior to Oct. 6, 2020.