A DataForm Software Success Story
November 17, 2017
DataForm’s client is a global, $90 billion multi-specialty health care company with leading portfolios in eye care, neurosciences, medical dermatology, medical aesthetics, obesity intervention and urologics. The company strives to build on its multiple strengths and move decisively into exciting new areas of specialty medicine where opportunities to truly make a difference in patients’ lives are greatest.
DataForm Software develops and delivers R&D Program Management solutions based on its patented flagship product, Planet, which fully integrates financial planning, project and team management, and analysis and reporting. The company helps pharmaceutical and life sciences companies measurably reduce administrative cost, improve resource utilization and expedite development timelines, thus bringing products to market faster, helping people and contributing bottom line benefits.
Major West-Coast Pharmaceutical Company
Optimize the use of its $800 million annual Research and Development (R&D) budget to move decisively into exciting new areas of specialty medicine where opportunities to truly make a difference in patients’ lives are greatest.
Implement DataForm Software’s Planet Platform, which integrates Financial Planning, Project Management, Team Management and Collaboration and Analysis and Reporting
Reduced the variance between budgeted and actual R&D spend from 10% variance to 1% variance, freeing approximately $19M per quarter for reallocation from delayed projects to projects that can be accelerated. Improved R&D team efficiency; eliminated 3 FTEs and enabled remaining team to manage twice the workload.
R&D Program Achieves Unprecedented Success
Strong Research and Development (R&D) execution is essential to achieve the company’s objectives. At a cost of nearly $800 million in 2010, the company’s world-class R&D efforts have been particularly productive. R&D represents a critical component of its values and culture, filling the pipeline and fueling the company’s growth by finding new opportunities to help patients in areas of substantial unmet need. The company is very successful with more than 10 significant product approvals achieved in 2010.
The company applies meticulous research and highly efficient project and information management, which can save years and millions of dollars from the overall cost of drug development. DataForm’s Planet platform is the heart and soul of this pharmaceutical company giant’s R&D project and information management for R&D program management.
Optimize Resources, Not Save Them
DataForm’s client’s success in R&D requires that all available resources are used optimally in order to keep projects moving towards the next milestone so that intelligent, fact-based go or no-go decisions may be made. With between 40 and 60 projects in the R&D pipeline at any time, the company is always looking for opportunities to “put and take” resources from a delayed project to a project that could be accelerated with additional resources. If a product has the potential to be a $250 million product per year, then every week that the time to market is reduced is worth $5 million.
Accomplishing these “puts and takes” requires an integrated view of projects, including visibility into the 20+ departments that contribute to a project plan and the resources allocated to the plan’s tasks. Prior to the implementation of DataForm’s Planet, reconciling plans’ timelines with budgeted and actual expenditures was a manual process completed in Excel, which caused delays and inaccuracies. A Senior Director in the financial management side of R&D commented, “We’re trying to optimize resources, not save them. Six weeks from the end of the quarter we might have been off by more than 10% of our planned $200 million spend. That’s $20 million that could be used to accelerate development and ultimately, help people sooner. With Planet, we are coming within 1% of our budget every time, which is fueling innovation and R&D excellence.”
Integrated Capabilities Deliver Efficiency, Quality and Consistency
R&D program management marries four processes. They are project management, financial planning, team management and reporting and analysis. Planet integrates these into one platform using standardized data sets, business rules and with complete control over dependencies, including which tasks are dependent and what the impact will be on resources. This integration eliminates manual processes and more importantly, increases the quality and consistency of plans, budgets and reports.
Dynamic, Systematic Financial Forecasting Eliminates Errors and Manual Processes
If these four capabilities were done outside of Planet, everything would be manual. Prior to Planet, the financial analysts would send an Excel spreadsheet to each of the department managers quarterly to complete the forecast. The spreadsheets would often be returned in a different format – fields added and subtracted – than had been provided, making it nearly impossible for the company’s analysts to create the rolled-up budget. At the end of the fiscal period, actuals were manually extracted from SAP and compared to the forecast to create a report, yet the SAP actuals often did not correlate to the lines in the forecast, so it was difficult to allocate the actuals to the forecast.
Since customized spreadsheets would have had to have been created manually prior to Planet, a standard spreadsheet was sent to all managers regardless of their area of responsibility or the contents of the R&D plan that they were supporting. As a result, managers would mistakenly budget for items that were not even part of their work plan. Planet eliminates that
problem by dynamically generating forecast templates depending on the tasks in the approved project plan, which institutes an important quality check. The company’s Senior Director explains how it works. “If toxicology is not in your Gantt chart in November, then you won’t even see that as an option, so you physically cannot allocate resources for toxicology in your
Planet removes the manual processes, financial analysis teams become more productive and accurate. For the forecasting piece alone, the company was able to eliminate three FTE’s. Even with the increase in R&D spend and the number of projects rising, the financial management group within the R&D team is now able to handle twice the workload.
More Flexible Project Management Automates Changes
Producing a drug can take up to 14 years, so many pharmaceutical R&D program management teams struggle with how to capture the project’s history, maintain consistent data and remain flexible. Hundreds of changes are made to plans once they are created. Some are small but some, such as regulatory requirements, may impact all of the drugs in the pipeline. Program managers also need to look at “what if” scenarios to determine the impact of adding more clinical trials or attempting to gain approval from additional countries. Dataform’s client needed project planning capabilities that could keep decision-makers informed and agile.
“Planet’s big difference is the Master Catalog,” explains the company’s R&D Information Services Manager. “The Master Catalog has templates that contain a predefined set of activities that make up the critical path of requirements for a certain kind of project. Everything you plug into a project is tied to an element, task or milestone defined in the Master Catalog.”
He continues, “Planet retains the history of a project, It will recall what the original names and intents of the tasks as they were created so that as terminology changes and timelines adjust, you have a chronology and uniformity across all projects. And you can create transactional snapshots, such as how much money you were forecasting at a certain point of time in the past or you can see how resource requirements changed over time.” He also explains how Planet saves time and resources and delivers accurate information faster through automated change management. “If you have an emerging market, the projected tasks for 50 drugs in our pipeline need to include a new parameter for this new market. Instead of manually plugging in all the work to get approval in the new country, you can add it in systematically and see the impact/delay represented.”
Eye on Performance Metrics
With an $800 million annual R&D spend, there’s a tremendous emphasis on analysis and reporting. Planet pulls data into it (from the financial systems and clinical systems for example) and supplies data to other systems, such as to the corporate financial planning system and the business intelligence application. Planet’s reporting capabilities help support the R&D Program Management team and the Executive team.
There are hundreds of data points that can be used to create custom reports to answer nearly any question managers might ask. The company has realized efficiencies by eliminating manual reporting using data from multiple systems, but more importantly, the IT team is able to supply more detailed information more quickly to decision-makers because of Planet.
For pharmaceutical companies, there is only one way in which to view the purpose of science and innovation – to identify those needs in health care that are unsolved and commit to finding solutions through a meaningful R&D investment that fuels future growth. DataForm’s Planet platform is a strategic part of R&D program management excellence.
About DataForm Software
DataForm Software develops and delivers R&D Program Management solutions based on its patented flagship product, Planet, which fully integrates financial planning, project and team management, and analysis and reporting. The company helps pharmaceutical and life sciences companies measurably reduce administrative cost, improve resource utilization and expedite development timelines, thus bringing products to market faster, helping people and contributing bottom line benefits. Based in Fairfield NJ, DataForm Software has been committed to innovation and collaboration for 20 years.