Most of us in the pharmaceutical industry have seen this trend: “….companies reducing internal technologies and innovation resources in favor of outsourcing and CROs….” Oftentimes having a respected, external study confirm with statistics what we’ve all been thinking is comforting. Still, what stood out for me in this analysis by the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development was its other finding — that outsourcing brings with it management inefficiencies. If you haven’t read the analysis start with this synopsis.
When we launched our firm, NGT BioPharma Consultants, in 2017, we began with a core team of diverse subject matter industry experts and leaders. Most of us had previously worked with at least one other person on the team, directly or as competitors. We knew (and know) what it takes to innovate, get products to the market, improve processes, adopt new technologies, and navigate regulatory approval pathways because we’d done all of this on the corporate side of the business for decades. We would never consider processes that were subject to operational or management inefficiencies – we would design those out in the early stages of a project.
Our belief is that consulting service providers should tailor their strategies to fit each clients’ needs and align with their individual resource models. In our view, consultants should not simply provide advice and then walk away (unless that is the clients expressed desire). Rather, at NGT BioPharma Consultants, we want to work with our clients to identify the appropriate tactical team to execute the strategy, whether that be from our external network of service providers or from our internal team of experts.
As the biopharmaceutical industry continues to trend toward divestment of in-house technology innovation and mid- to late-stage CMC drug development resources, there’s little doubt that the provider segment of our industry will be increasingly relied upon to be the go-to resource for these services. This presents a unique opportunity for consulting firms to flexibly provide skills, expertise and services capable of outperforming and innovating beyond what may have once been in-house capabilities.
There is no inherent reason for inefficiency in a well-designed synergistic internal/external outsourcing model. Although some of the responsibility for the efficient management of external resources falls to the clients’ organization, the opportunity for consulting firms to leverage the rich ecosystem of talent and resources to the clients’ ultimate benefit has never been greater.
Author Michael K. O’Brien, Ph.D. is founder and president of NGT BioPharma Consultants.