Monday, May 10, 2010

“The 4E Principal” for Determining an Outsourcing Partner

As a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Sciformix (, the management team thought it would be useful if we were to describe the case for doing business with their company, the value proposition and the practical reasons that accounts for the success of their business. I thought it may be useful to our readership to republish this and share some of our thoughts.

Describing why outsourcing/out-tasking is such a huge success is a straightforward challenge. It is rooted far more deeply than labor arbitrage which is the core reason most companies choose to use an outsourcing “partner”. There are unprecedented shifts in the way Bio-pharmaceutical companies are conducting their business today, partially forced by macroeconomics, politics, population growth and aging and the “flattening” of the globe that provides opportunity and challenge unknown before today.

There is an enormous pressure on management to perform the concurrent miracle of significant cost reductions coupled with simultaneous productivity improvements in order to thrive in our business. While workloads are inexorably increasing, there are daily headlines describing massive layoffs and facility closings in our industry. No corner of the business, regardless of the geography is immune from these pressures.

One of the few growth areas for budgets is the amount of outsourcing/out-tasking/off shoring that the Bio-Pharmaceutical Industry has undertaken. While the industry has been late out of the starting blocks, the lost time is being rapidly made up. Variations on the theme are diverse and include captive centers, joint ventures with global outsourcing companies, the major expansion of use of Clinical Research Organizations (CRO's), use of diverse geographies and any other creative aspects companies can create.

Our point here is to outline four key areas of consideration for outsourcing the drug safety and adjacent functions to a company such as Sciformix. We call it “The 4E Principal” which encompasses the “whys” of doing business together, each company's priorities will differ. The 4E's are Effectiveness, Efficiency, Economics and Employees and we will describe what we mean by each of these:

Effectiveness: In the area of drug safety, effectiveness encompasses results that are of high quality, compliant with appropriate regulations, consistent from batch to batch and well documented. With the large variation in the number and kind of testing that needs to be done and the education updates that are required, it is a significant challenge for the sponsor company to comply effectively. As Sciformix is focused on this area, day after day, the effectiveness we bring to your company is likely to be significantly better than you experience today.

Efficiency: Ideally your lab is running at or near 100%, however the reality is such that “peaks and valleys” are the norm profoundly impacting productivity and increasing unit costs. As a specialized outsourcing partner, companies such as Sciformix provide a predictable, attractively priced alternative to the classic in house staff-many companies tend to adapt a hybrid model that couples both in house expertise with external capability and bandwidth.

Economics: The economics of external drug safety capability are driven by labor arbitrage, that is to say that if external costs are less than 50% of that of in house capability and quality is equal to or better than current models, than the decision is very straightforward. As with investment policies in the financial world, 90% of the value is achieved with the initial decision, further incremental economic benefits are possible, but not as compelling once the major decision to go external is made. Currently, Sciformix can demonstrate cost benefits of greater than 50% compared with either in house or on shore based providers while providing a superior result.

Employees: The key driver for having an external provider for drug safety functions is based on the cost and upkeep of employees-including non-productive time, continuing education, vacations, holidays, benefits, etc. all of which add up to high overhead costs that are virtually eliminated when working with Sciformix.

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