Category Archives: Life sciences

CIOs and the Life Sciences Industry Part 2: Defining the IT Roadmap

Part Two of the blog series, click here for a link to Part One

Step 1: Defining the Core Capabilities

As noted in the last entry, an organization’s core capability can be viewed as those things an organization does particularly well to drive meaningful business results. Examples can range from talent management, lean manufacturing, customer care, research or product design. For pharmaceuticals, some specific examples could be pipeline management, study design, regulatory management including submissions, responses, and related matters, as well as drug discovery.

If you do not already have an organizational capability map, you need to begin by meeting with each business area. From those discussions, you can collaboratively develop a capabilities list for that area.

That list will need to be filtered and sorted into priority order. The output from this, as well as discussions with other areas, will then need to be consolidated into a single list. One example for a fictional manufacturer might look as follows:

For the strategic capabilities, additional detail is required. For the example above, a detail for Manufacturing might appear as follows:

Step 2: Assessing the Gap

At this point, we need to map the capabilities, in this case for Manufacturing to the IT systems which provide enablement. Gaps are also identified. A simplified view of this mapping looks as follows:

At the conclusion of this step, you should have a list of the capabilities for each (key) business area and any associated gaps.  This information will be critical as we move into the next steps of the process.

Although it is important to prioritize at each phase, the most important prioritization occurs during the consolidation rollout for the whole organization. Many factors may drive that process and will be discussed in the next entry.

In the next entry, we will discuss Steps 3 and 4: the process of consolidation and prioritization across the organization.

If you would like to set up a conversation with Clint, please reach out.

By Clint Gilliam, Virtual CIO, GreenPages Technology Solutions


CIOs, Priorities, and the Life Sciences Industry

As an IT executive, this is the period in which my inbox is inundated with e-mails about CIO priorities for the new year. Many of these articles are insightful and can provoke some interesting and thoughtful discussions. Nevertheless, their one-size-fits-all approach can limit their usefulness.

Companies, like snowflakes, are unique. In this case, uniqueness is driven by many factors including:

  • Industry
  • Sub-Industry Focus
  • Development state (startup, growth, downsizing)
  • Operating status (pending sale, M&A, legal complications, etc.)
  • Access to capital
  • Talent base

Each of these factors can shift priorities, and collectively their impacts can be substantial.

Consequently, I view these yearly priority articles as generalized recommendations that may or may not be relevant in my circumstance. To be sure, the often contained points have great value, but as the old adage goes, your “mileage may vary.”

In recognition of these facts, I am going to take a different approach. Here, the focus will be on the Pharmaceuticals (Life Sciences) industry.screen-shot-2017-02-08-at-11-05-28-am

Within this broad area, there can still be hundreds of variations. Examples include “Big Pharma” versus “Specialty Pharma,” Brand-Name versus Generic, start-up versus established, vertically integrated versus virtual (partner) structured. You get the idea; there are lots of snowflakes.

So how does one develop a list of priorities given the blizzard of snowflakes filling the environment? The answer is to focus on the basics and frame the discussion around the classic paradigm of People-Process-Technology-Strategy. The goal will be to illuminate some fundamental drivers that have high applicability for Life Science companies.

Depending on your organization’s particular state, you might need to begin by identifying your organization’s key capabilities. Here capabilities are defined as the things an organization does particularly well driving meaningful business results. Examples can range from talent management, lean manufacturing, customer care, research, or product design. For pharmaceutical companies, some specific examples could be pipeline management, study design, regulatory management including submissions, responses, and related matters, and drug discovery.screen-shot-2017-02-08-at-11-05-43-am

The ability to understand and enumerate an organization’s core capabilities is essential both in general and for IT. It provides a clear and aligned roadmap for the organization, helping it understand what are critical investments and where they have gaps.

Ideally, the end result can be a roadmap which allows for well-timed and scoped investments throughout the organization. IT can leverage this map to support the business with agile IT solutions aligned to the business needs. Additional benefits include minimizing re-work and a clearer picture for future investment needs.

A five-step approach is outlined here for advancing this process.

The key steps are:











The next entry will focus on Step One and Two in this process.

If you would like to set up a conversation with Clint, please reach out.

By Clint Gilliam, Virtual CIO, GreenPages Technology Solutions

Veeva Claims Rising Number of Small- to Mid-Sized Pharmaceutical Companies Switching to Cloud CRM

In less than three months, more than a dozen small- to mid-sized (SMB) life sciences companies in the U.S. have selected multitenant, cloud-based Veeva CRM while more than 75 SMB life sciences companies have chosen Veeva CRM in the last five years. The numbers show a steady rise in organizations outside ‘Pharma’s Top 50’ turning to the cloud for enterprise solutions. Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, Dyax Biopharma, Valeritas and Questcor Pharmaceuticals are among the many SMB life sciences companies to recently go live with Veeva CRM. These and many other SMB companies cite affordable enterprise-class performance as the primary driver for cloud system adoption.

Historically, enterprise-class CRM systems have proven cost-prohibitive for most SMB life sciences companies. These companies, however, have found an alternative solution where they can access enterprise-class software and hardware at a much lower cost structure. The traditional client/server CRM applications are typically over the budget – especially when ongoing maintenance and upgrade costs are factored in.

“Compared with other vendors, Veeva CRM seems to be the most logical – meaning it’s easy for users to figure out and fairly obvious how to do something new or different,” said Hokan Ojert, vice president of sales for Valeritas. “Even the analytics aspect of Veeva CRM is painless – what used to take multiple steps in and out of different applications with our previous system is now aggregated neatly within Veeva and accessible in a click or two. This streamlined technology approach allows us to focus on what we are supposed to be doing…supporting our physicians.”

Built on an inherently flexible, multi-tenant cloud-based platform, Veeva CRM offers life sciences companies a significantly more affordable per-seat pricing model while still providing access to the same world-class hardware and software leveraged by Top 20 Pharma. The cloud enables growing SMB life sciences organizations to quickly and efficiently scale up or down to meet demand. Changes can be made in minutes using simple point and click configuration without vendor intervention or the resulting expense. And, system functionality can be easily extended through free integrations with outside applications and data sources. All of these benefits are possible as a result of multitenant cloud-based technology from Veeva.

“With Veeva CRM, we can make configuration changes, modify fields, add users or change territories anytime without ever calling Veeva or waiting for vendor support,” said Heather Beaudoin, Questcor’s Director, Commercial Analytics and Sales Operations. “In fact, we can manage the entire system with just one-half of a full-time employee versus 5, 7 or even 10 FTEs if you have a complicated on-premise system. Veeva’s technology leads to vendor independence, and it’s proving a big advantage for us.”

According to Veeva’s Vice President of Sales, John Dawley, “Many smaller pharmaceutical companies that together make up a large portion of the fabric of our industry are seeing the incredible value of an industry specific, cloud-based solution. They need a fast, nimble, cost-effective solution and Veeva is there to help them achieve their goals.”