Programming a Seamless Supply Chain - Pharmaceutical Technology

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Programming a Seamless Supply Chain
Information technology is the glue that should unify a company while ironically, it enables further fragmentation. Experts talk about the successes and challenges for IT in helping a company function efficiently.

Pharmaceutical Technology


Flam and the other participants noted that their software products work together. However, I have heard people in industry comment that some add-ins work very poorly with platform software (not necessarily with regard to the panelists' software). I asked the panelists to address the question of integration.

Sabogal: What SAP's done in the last two years has been to provide infrastructure in terms of how we partner....The first tier is we publish, from our perspective, all the ways in which you can connect SAP. Second, we have a certified program that allows particular vendors to actually come in and say, 'OK, we're going to run our software on [SAP's] platform. And any time we have something that SAP doesn't do, we look for a partner that actually fills that space.'

Flam: There are a number of strategic systems out there: ERP lab information management systems (LIMS), document management systems... and QMS...[a term] we coined some years ago for quality management system. [QMS plays a core function as it] is getting feeds from numerous sources such as a problem with a certain batch number or lot number, etc. We have developed an open programming interface [which allows] other [software] systems to communicate directly with TrackWise, [for instance], to create and update issues, [to query the status of an open issue, and to be able to make decisions based on such information. This takes the concept of quality management to an enterprise-wide level].

Balakrishnan: Standards adoption is the most challenging aspect of integration projects. If two technologies adopt open standards, integration becomes a non-issue. On the other hand, if two proprietary standards-based technologies need to be integrated, the result is expensive and complex integration. Oracle [bases its] integration platform on open standards. Similarly, our application integration architecture, an open, standards-based platform for business process management across Oracle, third-party and custom applications, is based on open standards, and this makes it easy to integrate our products with others.

The traditional point-to-point integration model has outlived its utility. In most industries, chief information officers are asking us for a hub-based integration framework that can incorporate an enterprise-wide common object model. Such an architecture makes it easy to plug and play applications over time, without undertaking massive integration projects. Pharmaceutical companies are beginning to adopt this model as well and are trying to understand the impact of regulatory constraints on the adoption of such models.


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