Streamlining Life Science Processes: How Technology can Improve Vendor Management

In our first Life Science R&D blog, Paul Nelson talked about the major data challenges facing our industry today. Ultimately, those challenges boil down to what our team refers to as the volume, velocity, and variety of data.

Let’s examine one particular use case for a process that generates the same type of data repeatedly, in a fashion that is used once and generally discarded without a chance to reuse it and reduce effort, cost and improve decisions. Life Sciences organizations can realize significant savings or losses when on-boarding vendor partners. Sponsors must be able to effectively and efficiently manage and analyze a vast amount of information as part of the bid review process in order to identify the appropriate vendor/s to support the given clinical study program. However, the traditional vendor proposal process generates heterogeneous data that negatively impacts the Sponsor’s ability to conduct a true vendor comparative analysis.

As an industry, we’re still handling vendor management by hand with spreadsheets. Not only is it tedious, time consuming, and incredibly prone to error, it’s practically medieval in the era of SaaS and applications. (Okay, medieval is a little dramatic, but you get the point.) Each time we work through the selection process we lose the opportunity to leverage the historical and institutional learning acquired about the vendor, the bid and even the trial we are trying to get going.

How many times have we sent similar RFPs and bid grid’s to our CRO partners, received back the similar information and made assessments and recommendations by having multiple spreadsheets open? Leverage this scenario across 10, 20, or even 30 clinical studies per year, and you have a compelling business case to improve this process.

In order to address the aforementioned challenge, some Life Sciences organizations spend upwards of 6–12 months (from conception to design), and consume significant budgets on hardware, software, and development and testing in order to develop a homegrown, customized solution to solve the “vendor management challenge”. However, what we find is most initiatives taking such an approach rarely engender the desired results and, even worse, are not better off as a consequence of such an effort. In essence, these Life Sciences organizations aren’t able to gain insights or reuse their data in order to garner operational efficiencies.

Picture a world where you can reference the vendor’s last three or four bids for similar work and compare to their latest example; is there an increase or decrease? The data is there, usable and easy to analyze. Widen that picture, adding the latest bids to the repository of data, including the winning bid. Capturing the decision steps during the review and assessment process. Making all this data available in support of future efforts; in essence being able to leveraging historical for prospective analysis and decision making.

I know, you say, “Sure it sounds great when you say it, looks great on paper, but can this really be done?”

Of course! A COTS package won’t work this way, but there’s an easier (and more efficient) way to leverage technology for vendor management: utilize a platform that allows for configuration vs. development, and is probably already in place in your organization. The platform has opened up a world of possibilities. Salesforce’s platform architecture coupled with complimentary analytical capabilities derived from WAVE allows you to bypass the more demanding implementation and development efforts and provides the organization to focus on tailoring and configuration key workflows that typically yields a faster solution delivery time (upwards of 70% faster!)

What’s the moral of the story? It’s time for Life Sciences to come out of the metaphorical dark ages and start saving time and money by leveraging technology for vendor management. When push comes to shove, better management of data equals greater and more reliable insights to your data. Better insights and analysis allows for better educated decisions down the line.

Want to learn more about technology’s role in vendor management? Check out Lior Keet’s presentation at SCOPE Summit 2016, “Leveraging Improved Data Quality and Data Aggregation for Greater Vendor Analysis and Insight.”


Tired of reinventing the wheel with every new R&D initiative? Download our R&D Workbench Webinar to learn about the benefits of institutional memory.


Are you prepared for upcoming IDMP data standard changes? Join us Wednesday, October 26 at 11:00 a.m. EST 4:00 p.m. CET for our IDMP Substances Webinar – a unique opportunity to collaborate with industry experts and peers.