The RFP processes are robust, the ROI models are compelling, the software is best of breed, and the expectations are high. So, why do so many software deployment programs in Pharma fail to deliver their intended benefits?
This often is because after all of the effort, money, and time that is spent, the technology itself is poorly used. This may be due to any combination of misconfiguration, poor training, misaligned processes, human stubbornness, or other factors, but it doesn’t have to be that way. To this end, adoption must be a central component of planning for your next software deployment project.(Consider someone who purchases a piece of home exercise equipment, but is no healthier a year later. The equipment may not be flawed, but there were insufficient systems in place to ensure that it would be used in a manner that would deliver the intended results.)
Technology customers (and providers) in Pharma always must remember that deploying the technology itself is a measurement of progress, but not a measurement of success. True success comes only when we transform a core business process or stakeholder experience for the better, and this depends upon planning, execution, and accountability far beyond the tactical deployment of the software itself. Achievement of the Return on Investment (ROI) upon which the program was approved will require deliberate attention to post-deployment operational success, including openly acknowledging (and managing) the human response to disruptive change.
If you are planning (or have begun) to deploy enterprise software into your Pharma operations, here are a few things I recommend:
- Ask your technology providers to show you their ROI worksheets, and walk you through how, specifically, this program will make things better for your organization. (Even if you already have done your own ROI models, I suggest vetting your vendors this way—do they really understand what you’re trying to achieve?)
- Probe your technology providers regarding their approach to post-delivery operational success, and follow-through achievement of the aforementioned ROI. (They need to have a better answer than, “Call Support if you need anything.”)
- Define success. (I mean really define it.)
- Place the technology deployment into the context of the larger, transformative program.
- Secure and sustain internal leadership’s commitment to see it through.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate.
- Establish operational governance with your technology providers; include metrics that will hold all key parties, including yourself (the customer), accountable.
- Determine rollout triggers and proliferation plans. (For example, all net new clinical trials, one clinical program at a time, by therapeutic area, by geography, etc.).
- Lay out sprints and breathers (with check-ins) in the adoption plan.
- Establish a framework for forming, growing, and recognizing internal expertise, including super-users, an internal users’ group, etc.
Powerful technology can transform pharmaceutical operations in very beneficial ways. But it’s not guaranteed. You need more than the best technology you can identify. You need a sustained commitment, from yourself and your partners. And you need a plan.
About David M. Fishbach: David is an authority on transformational technology adoption in pharma and healthcare, helping technology customers and providers of all sizes to pursue and achieve meaningful success through technology deployment and use. David has led various teams in the delivery of software, services, and support for thousands of clinical trials, as well as global deployments of safety, pharmacovigilance, and regulatory information management (RIM) systems, and is a veteran of operational or executive roles at multinational powerhouses like The Dow Chemical Company and Oracle Corporation, and at breakneck-growth startups like Phase Forward Incorporated and Veeva Systems.