Pharma faces myriad challenges in information technology. But, in fact, many of them require the same action: To control costs, a company needs to refine its processes across the board, replacing old spreadsheet-driven processes with sophisticated analytics. That means collecting and analyzing data from a daunting variety of internal and external sources.
This business evolution is playing out in various parts of the industry, from R&D to sales management to marketing. But one of the clearest examples comes in sales and operations planning (S&OP), where companies are attempting to replace their old make-to-stock model with a demand-driven approach.New Approaches
In this environment, manufacturers are looking for new approaches to help them unify all business areas—R&D, sales, marketing, manufacturing, distribution, and finance—and truly align supply with demand.
IT plays a crucial role here. With the right systems, companies can:
Most pharma companies have a fragmented S&OP process. Typically, each department has its own process, storing data on spreadsheets. Departmental plans are not aligned with one another or company objectives. This situation leads to a time-consuming manual process that results in "the forecast," which is typically inaccurate. The supply chain team takes the forecast and figures out how to meet demand—with no thought to the profitability of their decisions. Ultimately, the "approved" plan is filed away, leaving departments to execute based on their own department-specific objectives.
The goal should be to replace this process with one that leads to a single, organization-wide forecast—built on accurate demand signals—which is at the core of an integrated S&OP approach. And the crucial tool in developing this process is integrated IT.