Strategies for Becoming a Preferred Provider - Pharmaceutical Technology

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Strategies for Becoming a Preferred Provider
A contract-service provider roundtable, featuring Albemarle, Baxter, DPT, Pfizer CentreSource, Dr. Reddy's, SAFC, and Vetter. Read this and other preferred organization articles in this special issue.


Pharmaceutical Technology
Volume 35, pp. s18-s28

Crucial success factors

PharmTech: What does it take to be a preferred provider? What would you identify as the critical success factors?

DeCuir (Albemarle): First, and foremost, one must have a positive track record with the customer. Then, the contract-service provider must be able to provide a variety of technology options. It may difficult for niche technology players to become key suppliers.

Eyre (Baxter): A contract service provider has to demonstrate a proven track record in three key areas: delivery (i.e., the expertise and ability to deliver on commitments); service (i.e., a robust customer-centric philosophy and committed, engaged project teams); and integrity (i.e., a culture of "doing the right thing" that fosters confidence in the partnership). Trust and reliability are the foundation of any partnership. And in the most effective partnerships, each party contributes unique services, expertise and technology.

Within Baxter's BioPharma Solutions business, we have a systematic approach to partnerships that starts from project initiation through the mature phase of a project through conclusion. All aspects require diligent alignment of expectations and monitoring of critical success factors. We have increased our investment in customer-service training and certification programs for our project managers, built communication-sharing tools, and developed improved metrics-tracking programs to better enable our teams to meet the needs of our clients and produce optimal results.

Josephs (DPT): Transparency is critical, as is trust. And, goals that are mutually beneficial are vital because there has to be incentive for both the sponsor and the contract provider. When I talk about transparency, I mean transparency not only through today but three years down the line.

Critical and fundamental success factors in today's environment are financial stability, a solid quality track record, and proof of capability. A customer is not going to take a risk in this environment with somebody who doesn't have a quality track record. That's your ticket into the game. Proof of capability comes from your ability to execute.

At DPT, we have implemented these things with all of our partners so that there is an ongoing scorecard. We are measuring month by month, quarter by quarter, so we are on track, and if we are not on track, we identify how we are going to get back on track.

Engels (DSM): Good reputation (primarily through common history), flexibility (i.e., delivery of products and services, contract design, and pricing), and sound financial sustainability.

Kosko (PCS): Critical success factors required to take a vendor from a status of "supplier" to "partner" include supply assurance, regulatory compliance, product quality, service, and cost. A supplier's ability to innovate will also set it apart from the competition. A strong focus on relationship development is essential to building strong, enduring and collaborative relationships. Expanding the relationship to include marketing, technical service, regulatory affairs, finance, customer service, and leadership can deepen the partnership and promote ongoing collaboration.

Ananthanarayanan (Dr. Reddy's): Attaining a preferred-supplier status usually involves a fairly significant journey over a period of time. Typically, there are a series of information exchanges that occur in the beginning to ensure that the two parties are compatible with respect to service offerings and strategic needs. Once the determination is made that the two organizations are indeed compatible, then function-to-function and person-to-person relationships are evaluated. Both parties need to know that they are able to not just meet each others' needs, but are able to work together harmoniously. Mutual respect must be achieved or the trust needed to evolve a strategic relationship will never come to fruition. Trust must be earned through proven execution. Most often, smaller projects are awarded to the supplier to test performance, and if successful, more projects to prove performance are awarded. Typically, it is when a dependable track record established, that a discussion about being a preferred supplier occurs.

Cassidy (SAFC): Critical factors would include having the appropriate capabilities to match the sponsor's needs; trust and communication; excellent service, quality, compliance, and safety record; experience and/or expertise in the specified service area; an understanding of the sponsors' expectations; excellent project management and competitive pricing

Soelkner (Vetter): The demands made on CMO partners are clear: quality, reliability, flexibility, and punctuality are among others the most important factors necessary to achieve a successful partnership. At Vetter, for example, we invest in high-quality materials and aim to achieve the highest possible safety and cGMP standards. We implement a highly structured project-management approach. This, combined with ongoing direct communication, serves to reinforce mutual trust.

Most important, a CMO has to know and understand the needs of its clients, and meet them accordingly. For Vetter, it is important to know what a client needs today, but it is also crucial for us to understand what support they will need in the future.


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