Opportunities for Action in Health Care. Unleashing Managerial Advantage In Pharma R&D

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1 Opportunities for Action in Health Care Unleashing Managerial Advantage In Pharma R&D

2 Unleashing Managerial Advantage In Pharma R&D Over the past 15 years, R&D productivity has fallen and the number of new drug applications has dropped sharply. At the same time, worldwide pharmaceutical R&D budgets have more than doubled. Are pharmaceutical companies conducting R&D inappropriately? Has the pharma climate changed while the companies have not? In interviews, leading pharmaceutical companies have all cited their strength in either effectiveness (setting the right objectives and picking winners) or efficiency (pushing projects through, showing excellence in communication, coordination, and cooperation), but none considers itself outstanding in both. The main reason is greater technological complexity. Research disciplines are now more distinct and there are more new technologies. The greater breadth is accelerating innovation, but also requires additional specialists to bring together findings from multiple technologies. The frequently conflicting managerial goals across functions and departments only compound the complexity. Taking a Systems Perspective on R&D These changes have created a need for a more systemic management focus. A systems perspective on R&D management can align all parts of the R&D pipeline in a single set of strategic goals. Synchronized management can integrate effectiveness and efficiency. To create a managerial advantage, general managers need to see R&D as a customized balance of four interrelated management areas: technology, portfolio, process, and culture. Viewing the areas as cogwheels emphasizes their interrelated nature.

3 An R&D Systems Perspective Technology Management Portfolio Management Options Assessment Evaluation Prioritysetting Sourcing Culture Management Adjustment Planning Execution Control Process Management Do you manage your entire R&D system or each of its parts? Any change in one area affects the others, so managing them separately will severely slow progress. Managers, however, usually sense wide gulfs between them. Cross-functional management teams usually deal with specific issues or skim the surface of strategy, but systems management calls for a fruitful intertwining of strategy and operations. Ask yourself, what interrelationships between the areas do you manage? How do you measure cross-functional and cross-departmental managerial success? Here are a few of the primary links between management of technology, the portfolio, processes, and culture that must be understood. Technology-based research platforms focus and expand basic research as well as development capabilities, so

4 that new technological ideas can continuously feed the portfolio with competitive, state-of-the-art projects. Proper portfolio management guides processes by requiring programs to be evaluated as independent financial units. Solid financial quantification is needed, and tough criteria for selection and stop/go decisions need to be put in place at all milestones. Efficient process management supports the technologies and develops the portfolio. All these management-supported interactions occur within and by means of an enabling culture that encourages a blend of innovation, integration, and discipline. While a systems approach provides a new perspective on the overall organization, it must not detract from the ongoing drive for functional excellence. Indeed, thinking through what s needed to create and maintain a well-oiled R&D system should yield new opportunities to strengthen operations. What is your technology strategy? Or, perhaps a more appropriate question for many companies is, Do you have a technology strategy? A research strategy should be driven by technology. Most pharmaceutical companies have traditionally emphasized therapeutic areas, but doing so has made it impossible to maintain the expertise needed in all related technologies. Having enough technological know-how to address every therapeutic area is financially infeasible and presents the danger of diffusing research concentration. A research strategy focused on a limited number of core technologies that can address multiple applications will avoid spreading resources too thin, and allows efficient use of outsourcing for specialized technical knowledge. Many pharmaceutical companies have been learning the advantages of a technology focus through partnerships or mergers with small biotech companies and academia. The smaller organizations complement the large company s business

5 expertise and scale advantages with technical specialization and innovation. How dynamically and consistently do you manage your portfolio? Portfolio strategies in many companies are dominated more by the interests and intuition of a few senior managers than by a solid cost/benefit/risk analysis. Even when evaluative tools are applied, consistency in decision-making is not assured. Since competitive differentiation comes from the way research projects are selected, a methodology rooted in personality and chance is not likely to succeed. To develop a dynamic methodology for managing the portfolio, a company should address four issues: 1) Portfolio goals Derive the optimal project portfolio from the technology strategy, reviewing it frequently as the technologies and markets change. 2) Project evaluation Evaluate each project for risk, resource requirements, and potential value. 3) Portfolio priorities As an aid, map the evaluations to visualize the balance between risks and probable value within the total pipeline. 4) Resource adjustment Revise the allocation of funds, equipment, and facilities, and reassign staff according to portfolio stop/go decisions. Have you optimized all your key processes? Because of the recent emphasis on reengineering and TQM, most companies understand process management better than the other management areas. Implementation of process changes, however, still lags behind the theory in most companies. All pharmaceutical companies have improved their development process to varying degrees, but few have

6 R&D costs 30 percent below the industry average and product costs 5 to 10 percent below the average But even these industry standouts have not been able to keep the cogs running smoothly over an extended period. We haven t yet found a pharmaceutical company that consistently applies a full systems approach to R&D, one that optimizes each area while effectively and efficiently managing the ties to the other areas. The complexity and pace of today s R&D require an organization that can respond quickly to any eventuality. That means exceptional managerial coordination. To unleash the desired R&D advantage, you should begin to think through a systems perspective. Early changes may include basing your research on technologies; mapping your discovery process in as much detail as possible; quantitatively evaluating all projects for cost, benefit, and risk, and mapping the results to stimulate understanding and discussion; being more disciplined in enforcing stop/go portfolio decisions and redistributing the resources; and bringing several small research groups into your orbit. Above all, look for and manage the interrelationships between the cogs. As Louis Pasteur said, Chance favors only the mind that is prepared. Niko Vrettos Michael Steiner Mr. Vrettos is a manager in The Boston Consulting Group s Düsseldorf office, and Mr. Steiner is a vice president in the firm s Munich office. The Boston Consulting Group, Inc. 1998

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