Each company, whether a contract research organization (CRO), contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO),
contract manufacturing organization (CMO), or other type of contract-service provider faces a fundamental question on how
to differentiate itself from its competitors and align its capabilities to the needs of its customers. Metrics that evaluate
factors that are valued by customers overall or by specific customer segments, including how a particular company is perceived
by prospective and current customers, are invaluable tools in strategy development and implementation.
To gain a perspective on how these issues relate to pharmaceutical development and manufacturing, the Nice Insight Pharmaceutical
and Biotechnology Survey evaluated levels of customer awareness and perception of contract-service providers and the factors
that influence those views. The quarterly survey is deployed to 40,000 outsourcing-facing pharmaceutical and biotechnology
executives. The survey is comprised of approximately 1200 questions and randomly presents approximately 30 questions to each
respondent to collect baseline information with respect to customer-awareness and customer perceptions on 400 companies that
service the drug-development and related commercialization cycle. A customer awareness score is derived based on assessing
five levels of awareness, and the customer-perception score is based on six drivers in outsourcing: quality, accessibility,
regulatory compliance, pricing, productivity, and reliability. These factors are ranked by respondents to determine the weighting
applied to the overall customer-perception score, which can be calculated overall, in specific segments, and for a particular
company. The most recent survey, released in June 2011, provides useful insight into the factors that influence outsourcing
Factors influencing outsourcing
Table I: Drivers of customer perception in order of influence on overall outsourcing as rated by all companies.
For purposes of the analysis for this article, customer perception was evaluated on an overall basis for all outsourcing activities
and further analyzed by specific capabilities: custom manufacturing (i.e., drug substances and finished drug products), chemical
synthesis (i.e., fine chemicals, intermediates, and active pharmaceutical ingredients), sterile manufacturing, lyophilization,
and preformulation/formulation development. In looking at the ratings of all customer bases (i.e., Big Pharma, biotechnology/biologics
companies, specialty pharmaceutical companies, emerging biotechnology/biologics companies, and emerging, niche, or start-up
companies), a common finding was the importance of regulatory compliance. Across the board, regulatory compliance was the
number one driver in influencing customer perception (see Table I). This finding was true for outsourcing overall and in five
segments analyzed: custom manufacturing, chemical synthesis, sterile manufacturing, lyophilization, and preformulation/formulation
development. Interestedly, price/affordability was ranked as the least important driver among the six factors in outsourcing
overall and in the specific segments analyzed.
Where there was some degree of difference was how the other factors—productivity, reliability, quality, and accessibility—ranked
in order of importance. In evaluating companies engaged in sterile manufacturing or lyophilization, reliability ranked as
the second most important factor influencing the perception of all types of biopharmaceutical/pharmaceutical companies and
productivity ranked third. In offering their views on outsourcing companies overall as well as specifically for companies
engaged in custom manufacturing, chemical synthesis, and preformulation/formulation, all types of pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical
companies ranked productivity second in importance and productivity third. Across all areas (i.e., overall outsourcing, custom
manufacturing, chemical synthesis, sterilization, lyophilization, and preformulation/formulation development), quality was
ranked as the fourth most important driver and accessibility fifth.
Specific customer bases
Further analyzing the drivers influencing customer perception among specific customer bases reveals interesting results.
In examining the ratings offered by Big Pharma companies in outsourcing overall and in specific segments, regulatory compliance
was most important and price/ affordability the least important. Similarly, biotechnology companies ranked regulatory compliance
first and price/affordability last (see Tables II and III).
Table II: Drivers of customer perception in order of influence as rated by Big Pharma companies.
Again, where there was some degree of difference was how the other factors—productivity, reliability, quality, and accessibility—ranked
in order of importance. In offering their views on outsourcing companies overall and specifically for companies engaged in
custom manufacturing, sterile manufacturing, and lyophilization, Big Pharma companies ranked reliability second in importance
and quality third (see Table II). In chemical synthesis and preformulation/formulation development, however, Big Pharma companies
viewed productivity and reliability higher in importance, ranking productivity second, reliability third, and quality fourth.
Accessibility was ranked fifth across all segments and in outsourcing overall (see Table II).
Table III: Drivers of customer perception in order of influence as rated by biotechnology companies.
Although biotechnology companies ranked regulatory compliance first and price/and affordability last in order of importance
in outsourcing overall and across all segments, there were greater differences in the other factors influencing their perceptions
of contract service providers. For example, productivity, reliability, and accessibility were respectively ordered second,
third, and fourth in importance by biotechnology companies in outsourcing overall, custom manufacturing and lyophilization
(see Table III). In evaluating providers of chemical synthesis and preformulation/formulation development, however, biotechnology
companies viewed productivity second in importance, accessibility third, and reliability fourth. In sterile manufacturing,
biotechnology companies weighted reliability second, productivity third, and accessibility fourth. Surprisingly, in outsourcing
overall and across all segments (i.e., custom manufacturing, chemical synthesis, sterile manufacturing, lyophilization, and
preformulation/formulation development), biotechnology companies ranked quality as the fifth most important factor, higher
only in importance than price/affordability, which ranked last in importance in outsourcing overall and in specific segments
(see Table III).