Procurement: Clever Leverage - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Procurement: Clever Leverage
Don't be afraid of sourcing consolidation—the benefits outweigh the challenges.


Pharma Meetings


It's important to remember that putting in place a new supply program is not a one-shot deal. It's an iterative process from which the team should learn and continue to develop in line with both internal and external market changes. And it's a strategy best done in phases to adapt to the pace of change sustainable within the organization. On the other hand, there are times to quicken the pace of change if the need is paramount and evidence suggests that the strategy will be effective. In this case, a short-term pilot can often resolve potential implementation issues and create the sense of confidence in the strategy necessary for team buy-in and support.

How can companies best leverage the sizable volume of their meeting business?

It's important to understand the differences between one meeting type and another, but it's equally important to understand the similarities between meeting components, such as hotels, restaurants, air transportation, event planning, and production. Companies that have recognized this have benefited through sourcing programs that leverage across all meeting types. [See "Common Ground."]

For example, companies have recognized that employment of event planners is often more effective when done across the organization. Preferred supplier programs are a way in which a company can get its arms around spending across many categories and commodity areas. One benefit is increased productivity as a result of streamlining the engagement process with suppliers through the use of a master service agreement with call-off rates. Other benefits are cost reduction and enhanced service and quality through sharing of best practices and enhanced understanding of corporate culture.

In the case of transatlantic teams, it's simply easier to use a single strategy—for planning and reporting—rather than grappling with multiple approaches.

Companies should also take advantage of the synergies between meetings and transient travel programs. Top areas include air and ground transportation and hotel spending, as well as process efficiences, such as linking attendee management and e-booking systems.

Consolidation of hotel selection, pricing, and contract negotiation by one team (either in-house or third-party supplier) is gaining in popularity because it offers standardization of of basic liability and risk clauses while maintaining flexibility for meeting-by-meeting specifics. A natural outcome of this is data, and with that comes the ability to analyze how and where the company is spending: Are there sufficient lead times to realize an effective rate? Is there a consistency in destination selection that suggests a more focused approach to locating metings? Consolidation allows departments to improve processes and reduce costs. Likewise, benchmarking helps identify potential improvements to specifications on an ongoing basis.

Is a one-stop-shop the best approach?

Historically, many companies have used that approach, particularly for physician meetings, to combine meeting planning and management with content development. It is considered the most convenient—although not necessarily the most cost-effective—way to do business. An alternative is to "unbundle" the meeting components to leverage high volume areas, such as hotel space and air transportation. Whatever might be lost in terms of convenience is gained with the advantages of lower cost and often, improved quality.


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