Collaboration across the pharma enterprise


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This paper examines key success factors for effective collaboration in the pharmaceutical industry. In an industry where speed to market is critical and where informed and timely decisions can have large financial implications, collaboration is a key factor to ensure value is delivered. Consequently, considerable investment is being made by pharmaceutical companies to enable project teams to work more effectively together across departmental, functional, company and geographic boundaries.

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Collaboration across the pharma enterprise

  1. 1. Winning strategies for effective collaboration in the pharmaceutical industry Charles Rowlands and Amy Morgan are founding partners of RM Consulting, an international business consultancy focused on providing management support services to the global pharmaceutical, biotechnology, chemical and healthcare sectors. Jointly they have more than three decades experience and have worked on numerous strategy development and market assessment projects in both developed and developing economies. Gary Hawksworth is BTs head of marketing for the pharmaceutical sector. He has 25 years experience of communications technologies with 7 years exclusive experience in supplying solutions to the pharmaceutical industry. Keywords collaboration, collaborative tools, communication, e-tools, information technology, pharmaceutical industry Abstract This paper examines key success factors for effective collaboration in the pharmaceutical industry. In an industry where speed to market is critical and where informed and timely decisions can have large financial implications, collaboration is a key factor to ensure value is delivered. Consequently, considerable investment is being made by pharmaceutical companies to enable project teams to work more effectively together across departmental, functional, company and geographic boundaries. Investment in collaboration has varied tremendously across companies - both in the level of investment and in the degree of success. It is against this background that British Telecom (BT) commissioned RM Consulting (RM) to research the key strategies for effective collaboration. A major finding of the research was that while technology is a strong enabler to better collaboration it must be intuitive, easy to use and enable natural people interaction for widespread adoption. The correct technology can allow richer social collaboration and more intuitive usability. Journal of Medical Marketing (2006) 6, 83-93. doi:10.1057/palgrave.jmm.5050027 INTRODUCTION in technological solutions but also As a leading provider of collaborative in areas including corporate solutions for many years, BT has culture, social networks and trust developed a deep understanding of between individuals. the particular collaboration issues The objective of the research faced by the pharmaceutical industry conducted by RM was to review how — and how they may be overcome to well collaborative practice is generate business improvements, embedded in todays pharmaceutical improve cost management and deliver industry. The study focused on the use increased shareholder value. BT are of tools in normal working practice acutely aware that the answer to and their relation to the culture and improved collaboration not only lies behaviour within the© 2006 Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 1745-7904 Vol. 6, 2 83-93 Journal of Medical Marketing
  2. 2. Rowlands et al. organisation. Research was based on internally to seek the improvements 30 in-depth interviews conducted with needed to meet the expectations of a representative sample of executives financial investors. Productivity gains at from a wide range of functional areas each phase, however small, have an across 11 of the top 20 pharmaceutical amplifying effect — they do not just add companies. up, they multiply. Companies have invested heavily in new discovery technologies WHAT IS COLLABORATION? characterised by the convergence of The definition of collaborative working life sciences and information varies greatly from person to person technology. We are entering a period and from company to company, but in where the promise of these new its simplest form, secure collaborative sciences will begin to deliver, but the working uses information systems to application of new technology has enable individuals or groups of created an added problem in terms of individuals to work concurrently on the vast amounts of new data that information, no matter whether they now need to be organised and are dispersed or co-located. The result managed. is that the working environment Enterprises that fail to use modern behaves in the same way regardless of communication technologies and who geographical location, communication do not leverage their intellectual capital channel or device. and knowledge-base of their workers, Collaboration is already integral to limit the potential for collaboration and corporate life in the pharmaceutical run the very real risk of falling behind industry — employees rely on e-mail, the competition. The knowledge- telephone and videoconferencing; they intensive nature of pharmaceutical are also leveraging the capabilities of R&D makes the ability to capture, the digital workplace to share communicate and exploit knowledge a knowledge and information with people key determinant for success. across the enterprise and with external networks. Despite heavy technology investment in this area however, not all INCREASING COMPLEXITY pharmaceutical companies have The research-based pharmaceutical realised the true potential of their industry has long been one of the collaborative tools — much money has most complex and resource-intensive been spent but crucially, many in the world — but complexity is now companies have omitted to invest in increasing at a spectacular rate. In encouraging personal interaction, the order to maximise the quality and result being poor uptake and severe speed of the discovery and limitations on true collaborative development process, companies are working. dramatically increasing the collaboration within the different parts of R&D as well as their reliance on WHY COLLABORATE? external partners. In an environment of rising costs and This collaborative approach is the increasing demands on productivity right way to do business, but it adds a and innovation, the challenge for level of complexity to both intra- and todays pharmaceutical company is to inter-functional interactions. Multiple do more with less. Having sought units within an organisation must economies of scale and product collaborate across the extended pipeline boosts through mergers and enterprise, ie not only with each other, acquisitions, pharmaceutical but also with external partners. companies are being forced to look
  3. 3. Winning strategies for effective collaboration Exacerbating these complexities is project concept that now dominates the challenge of size. Consolidation the way R&D is progressed on a within the industry as well as organic worldwide scale. growth, have created extremely large, global and decentralised organisations. Consequently, infrastructures are CURRENT COLLABORATIVE stretched to the limits, inefficiencies are PRACTICE amplified and simple tasks such as Pharmacos have organised their access to data, become cumbersome. collaborative technology platforms Paradoxically, these very large around an intranet and groupware organisations still rely on high- model. An intranet offers the best and innovation work and intensive small fastest solution for information to be group collaboration. A serious and dispersed and permits workers to growing challenge for todays interact, connecting them and their pharmaceutical company is therefore ideas across organisational to re-create a small-company boundaries. Groupware is software environment within the larger that groups or teams use together organisation without harbouring over computer networks and the knowledge silos. internet. The study examined the use of collaborative tools in normal THE VIRTUAL TREND working practice and Table 1 summarises current opinion based on Team working has become the interview responses. predominant way of working at all Study results confirmed the fact levels — and teams are becoming that we are inherently visual beings — increasingly virtual with members we want to see as much as we want often dispersed across multiple to hear. Combining verbal and visual geographical locations. Increased exchange of information was found to decentralisation has significantly increase the richness and add value changed the nature of project working. to the collaborative experience (Figure Previously, organising and tracking 1). project work could easily be done by When it comes to sharing physically moving around on site to information, there is much variation see all team members — individuals across organisations. Limited could simply exchange information and connections between current brainstorm together in the same room. asynchronous tools such as e-mail, Nowadays, with team members highly shared workspaces and knowledge distributed, managers have to visit portals result in information silos. project resources virtually — project Some organisations have carried out working and management is therefore an integration of knowledge bases becoming increasingly focused around and added complex search engines; internet-based collaborative tools. however, little attention has been paid A virtual project is a collaborative to the user front end creating a effort towards a specific goal or barrier to use. accomplishment which is based on collective yet remote performance. This need to work both together and apart has driven the need for BARRIERS TO management tools that enable COLLABORATION communication and coordination at a As companies grow and as the distance. The global structure of teams amount of information generated has grown to support the virtual increases, fewer© 2006 Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 1745-7904 Vol. 6, 2 83-93 Journal of Medical Marketing
  4. 4. Rowlands et al.Table 1: Attributes and issues surrounding the use of current collaborative tools Mode of Attributes Issues collaboration Phone/Mobile Telephone has become the gold standard Mobile phones make individuals too accessible and by which other communication services are measured impact negatively on the life-work balance. Participants multitask during audio meetings, Teleconferencing Most common form of conferencing Easy access - no even leave the room Unable to share non-verbal dedicated room required cues Prior introduction helps build relationships among participants Instant messaging Real time messages Requires response Bridges the gap between voice and e-mail Lack of archiving facilities on current systems Affords users the ability to communicate, Lack of discipline leads to inappropriate and over-use. E- E-mail coordinate activities and share information. Easy mail overload. E-mails often dumped without action. access - part of the desktop environment Difficult to manage version control Legal ramifications of wording A mechanism to share and distribute Changes working processes information, documents and/or objects. Promotes Users need to buy-into concept of sharing information. Shared workspace/ concurrent team working and facilitates decision- Information requires management throughout lifecycle to making. Access can be controlled. Can be extended to maintain its value E-Rooms third party users Users lack training and confidence to maximise utility M&A activity brings together different technology implementations Forces information and knowledge to be captured in Conversion of legacy data standardised format -future proofing Fragmented and siloed systems Data repositories Can be mined, visualised and the results published for Lack of metadata others to use Huge amounts of data generated daily in the post Data suitable for validation purposes genomic era. Relies on proactive user pull - search tools not intuitive Highly effective for sharing information and Security, sensitivity and confidentiality Intranet knowledge with a large, dispersed audience Most intranets do not yet facilitate the creation of Best place to house tools vibrant communities and have not succeeded in Portals provide a single point of access and can be decreasing the friction of information transfer tailored to audience requirements between different groups Net meeting Allows users to work from the same document in In the absence of visual link, there is a lack of real-time interpersonal cues for building trust between team Easy access - users sit at own workstations members Multiple party participation Language barriers - poor English skills lead to some par- Commonly used in conjunction with videoconferencing ticipants being hesitant to raise questions Excellent vehicle for bringing geographically Time wasted in set-up dispersed teams together. Ability to share both Imperfect visual image Videoconferencing verbal and non-verbal cues Visual cues allow Time delays can lead to misinterpretation of verbal foreign language speakers to be better understood communication and body language Participants on camera cannot multitask or leave Not easily accessible - need to coordinate the booking of the room suites across participating sites Expensive - notably higher bandwidth applications Face-to-face Technical tools cannot substitute the traditional human Geographical distribution means that face-to-face is face-to-face way of sharing information around a table expensive - in cost and in time Best way to build relationships and team moral Full Co-location required for routine face-to-face range of communication skills Coordination of travel around other commitments people have time to read the all collaborative efforts within their literature or are able to personally company, only 10—15 per cent of interact with those outside their intellectual capital has been captured particular programme. This leads to in any structured format and that the isolated projects, the inability to stay rest resides on paper, in lab current and the repetition of effort. notebooks and in researchers heads. One study respondent claimed that despite
  5. 5. Winning strategies for effective collaboration Face-to-Face Audio + Video + Web video conferencing + web meeting Audio + Video “Richness” video streaming video conferencing Web Audio + Web email, instant net meetings messaging, e-rooms, Audio white boards, telephone, discussion groups mobile ConnectivityFigure 1: Combination of verbal and visual information exchange Collaborative tools on the market Respondents to the study reported today make it easy to coordinate large that all too often the selection and groups by enabling team members to introduction of collaborative tools post questions, work jointly on failed to take into account the practical documents, schedule meetings and business needs of their work function. track progress toward goals. But not Consequently, there was a mismatch every company is positioned to take between expectations and reality. A advantage of these tools. The danger further point raised, was that many of for many is overspending on the tools were complicated or technology implementations without cumbersome requiring users to switch making the cultural and organisational between multiple applications - adjustments necessary to derive any resulting in limited uptake. Finally, benefit from them. Major barriers to implementation of new packages was collaborative working embedded in more often than not poorly managed current behaviour include: with little follow-up to initial training programmes. Unsurprisingly • Inherent dislike of sharing information widespread adoption of collaborative - knowledge is power tools has to date, not met with the • Low perceived value in sharing information expectations of IT departments or top • Mistrust of those who individuals have not management. met in person • Concerns over who will have access to IMPACT OF CORPORATE shared information CULTURE • Geographical distribution of workers Corporate culture plays a critical role • Resistance to change in ensuring greater collaboration, yet • Effort required — an added burden to daily the fact remains that in todays large routine pharmacos, there are too many • Corporate culture leading to competitive people, too much information and too rather than collaborative working styles little time devoted to overcoming the • Poor team working skills and lack of barriers to information sharing in leadership order to create a true collaborative • Lack of training environment. Compounding © 2006 Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 1745-7904 Vol. 6, 2 83-93 Journal of Medical Marketing
  6. 6. Rowlands et al. this issue has been M&A activity which tasks more efficient), the goal now is often brings together two culturally to enable processes to perform at a diverse organisations with conflicting higher level. working practices and different We are in the midst of a fundamental technology implementations. paradigm shift as new technologies The typical hierarchical nature of bring integrated voice, video and web pharmaceutical companies also hinders solutions to the pharmaceutical collaborative efforts. Senior executives desktop. Emerging collaborative can be territorial, defensive and even solutions now offer the user the ability to closed — team collaboration can coordinate seamlessly between tools therefore become difficult as individuals without the need to switch between have to work around managerial egos systems. Information can be shared in and sensitivities. In addition, an integrated and synchronised manner information hoarders will always exist allowing decisions to be made on the and with a lack of incentives that most up-to-date information (Figure 2). encourage joint working, personnel This so-called contextual often feel that it is not within their collaboration represents an integration interests to collaborate — they become of tools into a unified interface - economical vith information, thus allowing teams to communicate impeding collaborative efforts. quickly and instantly from a single In many cases, collaboration is at environment. The goal of contextual odds with the companys corporate collaboration is to make online culture so implementation will be collaboration as simple and as intuitive disruptive. Shifting a corporate culture as possible allowing more proactive from being competitive to being goal management and more focused cooperative is not easy, it requires work processes. The technological key leadership from top management and will be the adoption of a converged changes at all levels of the infrastructure which delivers the ability organisation. This remains a big leap for voice and other collaborative tools for many companies where individuals to work seamlessly together. are still rewarded for controlling knowledge and highlighting their own achievements, rather than for sharing WHAT DID WE LEARN FROM knowledge and focusing on team THE STUDY? accomplishments. Study findings highlighted the fact that collaboration is primarily about behaviour and not technology. FUTURE COLLABORATIVE Collaboration strategists must PRACTICE overcome organisational, cultural and Since the 1990s, collaboration behavioural issues such as persuading strategies have revolved around tools people to work differently, establishing with little attention being paid to user incentives and performance measures needs and behaviour. Simply giving that foster greater information sharing users the perfect tool for each situation and cooperation. Additionally, is not always the correct strategy — community building efforts are valuable this just leads to the proliferation of to create synergies across processes tools for each situation and results in and functions. This approach provides higher levels of IT complexity (and users with peripheral vision of what costs). Today the focus is on how else is going on that might influence people work within processes — it is no their own work practices. In this longer a personal productivity respect, endeavour (e.g. saving time or making individual
  7. 7. Winning strategies for effective collaboration Object Conversation Sharing (VoIP) e.g. Documents, Databases CONTEXTUAL Shared Presence COLLABORATION Workspace Aggregation of Awareness shared objects & tools Figure 2: Unification of tools collaboration becomes a re-distributes the information. cornerstone of knowledge Effective collaboration requires the management and enterprise right mix of both synchronous and learning strategies. asynchronous tools used in an appropriate and linked manner. WINNING STRATEGIES FOR EFFECTIVE COLLABORATION Ensure contextual collaboration The right tool The research found virtually no linking Selecting the right tool for the right of asynchronous and synchronous task is a critical consideration and will collaboration tools to date — the result in a positive collaborative convergence of voice, video and data experience. Important considerations networks means that technology is no include the size of the audience, the longer a barrier to prevent this from intended level of interaction and the happening. The future is contextual immediacy of the required response where collaborative tools will exist in a (Tables 2 and 3). Chat and instant linked and integrated family allowing messaging are forms of synchronous users to switch seamlessly between communications where each user systems from a single desktop responds to the other in real time. In environment (Figure 3). This integrated contrast, discussion forums and e-mail environment will serve as a managed for example, are asynchronous repository providing document and communications. Some amount of record management combined with time may pass before a person communication tools, e.g. corporate responds to a message and/or re- directories will link to uses, re-purposes or© 2006 Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 1745-7904 Vol. 6, 2 83-93 Journal of Medical Marketing
  8. 8. Rowlands et al. contact information and with the with captured ad hoc interaction additional use of presence information, and collaboration. The move individuals can check if people are towards contextual collaboration available to take calls allowing a strong continues to be adopted to improve link to be forged between data and the productivity, reduce coordination people responsible for creating it. costs and better connect people to Contextual collaboration has the peers and teams. potential to cross the divide between electronic data and human knowledge Create the culture by linking information to people and by Pharmaceutical companies need to creating an environment for human develop and reward a culture of interaction. In this respect, contextual openness and sharing. Training is collaboration mimics the richness of required — users must be familiar with co-located small-team working by and comfortable using the tools. Over combining process rigour for time, end-user confidence and compliance familiarity will evolve and the sophistication of the workspace will Table 2: Considerations for the selection of collaborative tools grow accordingly. With adequate training and support, the result will be Criteria E-mail Instant Shared a constant cycle of positive Messa- Work- ging space reinforcement and continuous Synchronous No Yes No enhancements in productivity. Employees need an incentive to Asynchronous Yes Potential Yes contribute to the system; rewards could be either financial or Data sharing Medium Low High psychological (eg peer recognition). In Ease-of-use High High Medium addition, users must realise a net gain from the system and the value of Accessibility High High High sharing information through collaboration must be reinforced. A Response Yes Yes No required major failing is that the majority of Audience size Good Excellent Excellent pharmaceutical companies do not yet 1-5 reward or include collaboration in Audience size Good Medium Excellent personal objectives — and without 5-25 incentives, behaviour will not change. Audience size Good Poor Excellent >25 Table 3: Considerations for the selection of collaborative conferencing tools Criteria Tele- Video-conference Net Meeting Face-to-face conference Visual cues No Yes No Yes Presentation of data No Sometimes Yes Yes Collaboration environment Low High High High Ease-of-use High Medium-Low Medium High Accessibility High Low High Low Equipment cost Low High Low Zero Network cost Low High Low Zero Other expenses (e.g. travel) Low Low Low High Meeting size 1-5 Good Excellent Good Excellent Meeting size 5-25 Medium Medium Good Excellent Meeting size >25 Poor Poor Good Excellent
  9. 9. Winning strategies for effective collaboration Figure 3: Potential connectivity from the desktop Measure the impact access to relevant information and Collaborative tools are likely to be sources of expertise, could result in 2 adopted more widely within months decreased discovery time and pharmaceutical companies and their US$6 million saving. One respondent use will become more routine if claimed that researchers within their employees and executives understand company were spending more than how much time and money can be 15 per cent of their time searching for saved. data and information which has led to Calculation of a hard savings figure bad and slow decision-making. for the return-on-investment (ROI) on collaborative tools is hampered by the multitude of budgets and cost centres Promote the benefits involved. Broad estimates from the Effective collaboration strategies study suggest that by avoiding the enable individuals and teams to be need for four people to travel and more productive within processes, with meet face-to-face once a month over success being measured via the clinical development period, the improvements in process outcomes saving in terms of man-hours is in and more sustained levels of excess of 1 year and around US$0.4 innovation. Productivity improvements million in terms of costs (costs can be delivered as both hard, included in the calculation: airfare quantifiable benefits (already estimations, hotels, meals, car services, discussed) and as soft benefits. Soft taxis, salary downtime costs, sundries, benefits are perhaps always the most etc.). Similarly, by improving discovery under-appreciated since they are productivity by 3 per cent through difficult, easier© 2006 Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 1745-7904 Vol. 6, 2 83-93 Journal of Medical Marketing
  10. 10. Rowlands et al. Table 4: Critical factors for successful collaboration Critical Success Factors for Tools Simplicity - tools developed for large groups of people need to be easy to learn as well as simple and intuitive to use Accessibility - tools must fit seamlessly within the desktop environment Customisation - different groups have different needs for tools and information Integration - tools should ideally sit within an integrated and linked environment enabling the user to move seamlessly from one tool to the next Relevance - tools must be relevant to the context of the user’s work as well as meet specific business objectives Connectivity - tools must afford easy access to others (team members and beyond) Reliability - tools must work in the manner expected and systems must be maintained Critical Success Factors for Creating a Collaborative Environment Culture - a corporate culture f sharing and openness Rewards - for demonstrating effective team working and collaborative behaviour Training - appropriate and timely Leadership - team leaders must provide authority and example on collaborative behaviour Resource - must be allocated at the team level to direct the use and continuous optimisation of the collaborative workspace Define roles and responsibilities - at all levels from the implementation team down to project teams themselves Reinforce benefits - the impact of collaboration needs to be measured while promoting the benefits at the same time if not impossible, to quantify difficult to work in a modern with precision and include: corporate environment without them. • Enhanced creativity and innovation • Faster and more informed decision- making CONCLUSION — 24/7 availability of information means Collaborative solutions now represent that a core business tool that global decisions are based on current not pharmaceutical companies need to expired fully embrace in order to compete in data todays global marketplace. The major • Increased transparency across the finding of the study was that successful organisation implementation of collaborative • Improved management of project teams solutions requires a deep • Increased reach — including remote understanding of user needs workers combined with the deployment of the and multi-geographies appropriate intuitive tools (Table 4). In • Minimisation of travel requirements — addition, it is crucial that implementation improved quality of life for workers is supported by an organisation-wide • Elimination of downtime change management programme to help employees adapt their working In short, the soft benefits that accrue behaviours and styles to fully exploit the from the use of collaborative tools may benefits of collaborative working. be hard to quantify but they are no less real than the hard benefits. It would be difficult to write the business case for telephone or e-mail systems but it would be equally
  11. 11. Winning strategies for effective collaboration New tools and communication that is relevant, current and fluid.infrastructures are now on the horizon Online collaboration will makethat will enable true contextual significant steps towards being ascollaboration. With the convergence of simple and as intuitive as working vithvoice, video and data networks, more people in the same room.pharmaceutical companies will realise To truly embed collaborative workingincreased value through deploying IP behaviour however, requires acollaborative solutions — including IP fundamental change in corporatetelephony (VoIP), unified messaging, culture and working behaviours andvoice mail and audio, video, and web styles — to succeed the benefits ofconferencing. These personal tools will collaboration and knowledge sharingenable workers to communicate must be continually reinforced from theanywhere, anytime, with local and top down. A successful collaborativeremote colleagues, without leaving the framework is a driver for culturalcomfort and efficiency of their change and is a vehicle forworkspace. Individuals will be able to pharmaceutical companies to realisework with live information the full potential of their greatest asset - their people.
  12. 12. RM Consulting is now part of Parioforma Limited, an independentbusiness consultancy headquartered in London, UK.For further information on our services or for an informal discussion on yourinformation and/or research needs please dont hesitate to contact us:  Either by telephone on +44 (0) 207 225 3538; or by  Email at: charles.rowlands@parioforma.comLONDON OFFICE ASSOCIATE OFFICES Intrix Corp, Darien USA ConnecticutCharles RowlandsSenior Partner Eastern IMRP, Moscow55 Prince’s Gate EuropeExhibition RoadLondon SW7 2PNUnited Kingdom Brazil Intrix Corp, São PauloTel: +44 (0) 7803 Japan TRN, Tokyo