At the source: Harmonizing clinical partnership strategy and procurement

By Maggie Lynch contact

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/djiledesign)
(Image: Getty/djiledesign)
Alternatives to the transactional RFP-bid defense structure “invite greater creativity and innovative options” into sourcing discussions, says Syneos executive.

Outsourcing-Pharma (OSP)​ caught up with Melissa Bomben (MB)​, vice president, strategic resourcing, clinical solutions, Syneos Health, who recently spoke at the SCOPE Summit in Orland, FL.

OSP: Is the industry moving toward strategic partnerships or a vendor selection process? How has this evolved?

MB: ​Partnering has continued to diversify and adapt to the development needs of sponsors across the continuum from small biotech to large-scale pharma. Relationships range from transactional outsourcing to strategic, even exclusive partnerships.

There is no singular trend, but rather an evolution toward customization, fit-for-purpose, and hybridization of partnership models.

OSP: What causes partnerships to be misaligned with a procurement selection process?

MB: ​Sourcing strategies are often guided by the selection criteria put in place through the procurement process to ensure comparability across potential suppliers. If the selection criteria – often technical, transactional, and traditional – are not filtered through the lens of the overarching clinical strategy – misalignment is baked into the selection process, and without correction can continue into implementation and delivery.

OSP: How does this affect development?

MB: ​This misalignment will negatively impact clinical solutions development from the start by encumbering progress. Lack of agreement creates tension, sometimes resistance, takes time to sort out and resolve, and is costly.

OSP: What are the different needs of procurement, the business, and prospective partners?

MB: ​The challenge comes in balancing priorities of key stakeholder organizations: (a) the need for procurement to establish selection criteria, (b) the need for the business to ensure operational delivery and (c) the need for prospective suppliers to demonstrate value. Add to this mix the pursuit for innovative approaches, and the result is that there is an absence of a shared goal.

OSP: How can these be balanced?

MB: ​Well before the RFP, sponsors are encouraged to ask their various stakeholders: What are we trying to solve for in our clinical partnership strategy? Use the results of this inquiry as the basis to establish a shared goal among stakeholders.

Additionally, determining an organization’s readiness for adjustment in control / oversight to gain efficiencies is another contributing factor to consider. Implementing a sourcing strategy requires adjustment in control.

Knowledge of operating in various models, and deliberate change management to integrate these features within an existing organization are not just determined in the governance charter. It is set up in the clinical strategy, and choices in this area have a significant impact on cost.

The lack of alignment on clinical strategy within the sponsor organization (goals differ in operations v. procurement) cannot be overcome by a change in model.

OSP:  What is the standard bid defense structure and single POC buying mold? And how can stakeholders work together to break this? – and why should they?

MB: ​Simply put, there is increasing interest in moving beyond the limitations of the transactional RFP-bid defense structure, as a mechanism to invite greater creativity and innovative options into the dialogue.

Many sourcing relationships are seeing success by inviting consultation from the supplier community earlier in the selection process and engaging in shared goal setting beyond the sponsor structure to include suppliers in the equation.

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