Business Planning: The Prescription For Quality Assurance And Business Success In Life Sciences

David Vallejo

It’s ragweed season here in southern Ontario, so I pop another allergy pill. What never enters my mind, though, is the safety of the product I’m putting into my body. I have total confidence that what I’m taking is safe and secure.

But why? Where does this level of confidence from? It has everything to do with trust. When I take any kind of medicine – whether it’s over-the-counter or prescribed by a doctor – I trust implicitly that the manufacturer has lived up to certain standards for safety and has controls in place to ensure quality.

Life sciences companies take this trust seriously – which is reflected in the sophistication of their supply chain processes. When I take my allergy pill, I know that the supply chain behind the pill is nothing to sneeze at.

Patients first

The focus on safety and quality in the life sciences supply chain reflects the imperative of the industry to help patients live better lives. But still, these supply chain processes can – and sometimes do – go wrong. When this happens, patient trust can be shaken. All it takes is a single drug recall to scare off customers, who may permanently switch to an alternative medication.

What threatens supply chain execution the most today is growing product and network complexity, leading to increased supply risk. In a real sense, then, putting patients first means finding a way to treat this complexity.

The formula for success: integrated planning processes

While it may seem counterintuitive to think firms can plan for the unknown, real-time data analytics and planning provide the right prescription.

Life sciences organizations, of course, are no strangers to data. Discovering potential new drugs and then bringing the drugs through clinical trials and into the market requires researchers to analyze some of the largest volumes of data imaginable.

Apart from research scenarios, however, life sciences companies also need to collect, ingest, process, orchestrate, and consume data at an enormous scale in order to run more efficiently at the level of business execution. Integrated business planning processes can help by enabling accurate and on-time data integration across the supply chain.

Integrated business planning means planning that spans all relevant facets of the extended life sciences firm. The goal is a consolidated view of data that incorporates activities ranging from R&D to final drug delivery – along with insight into the partners that make up the supply chain. With all data viewed through a single platform, firms can not only identify quality issues sooner but can also more effectively forecast demand to serve patients better.

Better for quality, better for business

Integrated business planning leads to a single source of truth for the data that matters most. With this data at hand, firms can apply intelligent technologies such as machine learning (ML).

When it comes to ensuring quality, ML has the power to detect patterns in supply chain activities that can head off disaster. Based on what’s happening now with the quality of raw materials, for example, firms can predict with high degrees of accuracy what the ultimate quality of the final product will be. Issues detected earlier, of course, are easier – and less expensive – to rectify. The result is safer drugs for patients and higher quality overall.

Data insight into the life sciences supply chain can drive better business performance as well. Deeper transparency allows firms to focus more on creating value in diversified areas. With real-time insights, for example, firms can manage supply chain and financial forecasting on one common platform. One set of fully transparent numbers by volume and currency enables firms to better detect demand signals, run simulations, and make better decisions to meet the needs of the market.

In the end, firms can maintain the supply quality they need to ensure safety and follow through on the mission to make life better for patients – while at the same managing the business of life science for sustainable growth over the long term.

To learn more about best practices for integrated business planning in the life science industry download the IDC report on digital business planning.


David Vallejo

About David Vallejo

David Vallejo is globally responsible for solution management and go-to-market strategies for the SAP Digital Business Planning portfolio. As supply chain veteran, he specializes on driving innovation and working with companies across industries to adopt new ways to drive business outcomes. David has held various leadership roles within SAP – most recently driving the successful launch of the SAP Ariba supply chain business network – and ran solution management for other supply chain cloud vendors like E2open and icon-scm. He was awarded the “Pros-to-Know” award from the Supply and Demand Chain Executive Board and holds a degree in computer science from the university of applied science in Mannheim.