Why—and How—Pharmaceutical Companies Should Transform Their Commercial Operations

Sanjay Joshi, Managing Principal

What does it take to elevate the commercial ops organizations role? What are the transformational levers that the commercial ops organization can apply to be more of a thought partner to its internal clients?

The pharmaceutical industry is really going through a fundamental restructuring. You’ve got intense cost pressures on the commercial ops organization. Executives are being challenged to really look at long-held assumptions and beliefs about their costs and business practices.

The demands of the internal client organization continues to increase—they're asking for more customer service, customer responsiveness. At the same time, [they are] a little bit more demanding in terms of timelines to respond to their queries.

And if that were not enough, they’re being asked to build new capabilities. They're being asked to build new capabilities in multi-channel marketing, in solution selling, in key accounts management. And then the question [that] comes is, How do you go about building these capabilities? Do you build? Do you buy? Do you partner?

Clearly, there is a tremendous change underway in the commercial ops world. And commercial ops organizations can certainly play a very strong, impactful role in shaping this new evolution.

But first things first—it is important that the commercial ops organization delivers operational efficiency and effectiveness. Second, demands organizational alignment and discipline. And finally, earns the trust of its internal clients to be able to play more of a strategic thought-partnership role with its brands.

First and foremost is the operational efficiency and effectiveness levers. Within those, there are a number of elements to highlight. A) Drive integrated and automated end-to-end business processes for enhanced agility and flexibility. Transition to a managed services environment—transition from a fixed-cost model to a variable-cost model.

The second transformational lever is organizational. Within the organization levers, it is important to A) Align the organization on two core dimensions. The first is functional excellence, and the second is client—service excellence.

Another element for the organizational transformation is to institute more disciplined mechanisms and metrics between the infernal clients, the business units, the brands, and the shared service organization.

Finally, the third transformational lever is [the] strategic role and impact in the organization. One way to have a stronger and strategic impact in the organization is to go global. For example, global commercial analytics centers of excellence. Harmonize global programs and processes.

[The] commercial ops organization, through application of these levels—application of these transformational levers—can become a brain trust to deliver high-impact business outcomes.