Pharmaceuticals & Biotech

Don’t let old processes slow down your agile marketing team

By Erin Liman, MaryAnn Godwin, and Sean Sinisgalli

Feb. 13, 2020 | Article | 3-minute read

Don't let old processes slow down your agile marketing team

Agile marketing teams, anchored by multi-disciplinary employees and boosted by outside team members, are too often slowed down by outdated processes: burdened by annual brand planning, with self-imposed review cycles and rigid budgets. Here’s how healthcare organizations can streamline and align processes to meet agile speeds:

  1. Adjust the daily life of the marketer: Meeting agile goals requires focused, uninterrupted work time. That means replacing status meetings with daily stand-ups and co-working sessions and releasing marketers from their usual responsibilities to free them up to accomplish agile tasks.
  2. Match agile goals to customer KPIs: Build a mature metrics infrastructure that consistently collects feedback, switching from internal, process-oriented KPIs to measuring customer value. For example, one pharmaceutical company changed its sales rep incentive structure to be non-sales related and connected only to customer satisfaction. Agile team KPIs should include traditional marketing metrics like awareness to usage, health and clinical outcomes, net promoter score, first call resolution rate, initial fill rate and adherence/compliance metrics.

    The best agile organizations have a clear understanding of how customer success relates to business success. Firms with the most satisfied customers are not necessarily the best performing. Agile teams should track and demonstrate progress (particularly during sponsor check-ins) without losing time. Implementation-based metrics can help the team track progress in the short term.

3Add flexibility to budgeting and planning and have different functions co-fund initiatives: Yearly planning doesn’t always account for near-constant marketplace changes, and thus many marketers can’t shift their plans halfway through the year. That’s why budget flexibility is important. ZS helped one pharma client revise its marketing planning and budgeting process by studying four archetypes: robust, sales-driven, iterative and hybrid (robust, iterative). The client’s “robust” process, common within large, fragmented pharmaceutical organizations, was not aligned to their agile ways of working. ZS recommended and helped implement the “agile/iterative” model, which involves ongoing planning and execution with quick customer feedback loops to align with customer needs. The company removed its annual brand planning process and planned instead on a targeted, micro basis.

As organizations shift to an “iterative” planning and budgeting model, different functions should co-fund agile initiatives. In no budget scenarios, allocation is less material, though there will be cases where pieces of work target the same goal but a specific piece may squarely sit within a specific function. For instance, an oncology client was attempting to validate the economic value of next-generation sequencing testing. Part of this effort included a medical component to collect the required data and that budget came from the medical rather than the agile team. Later, as the agile team took on more of the workstream, its work product owner’s department (account marketing) paid for more of the outlays.

Agile teams shouldn’t let outdated processes slow them down. By following the advice above, healthcare organizations can streamline and align processes to keep up with the pace of agile marketing and fully reap its rewards.