Three Tips for Digital Transformation in Life Sciences
The decision to move to a next-generation ERP solution is a particularly important one in Life Sciences. Digital transformation can take a regulated organization to new heights, thanks to capabilities which enable greater operational efficiency, simplify compliance and validation processes, and automate complex tasks. This article takes a look at three pillars every regulated manufacturer considers when deciding on a strategy for the future.
Find a Partner Who Understands Your Industry
An industry-focused partner capable of solving regulatory and compliance challenges is obviously a priority for every Life Sciences organization. Digital transformation is a process meant to establish a foundation for long term success and growth. However, without the necessary knowledge and experience to steer it, you’ll find yourself facing even more obstacles and inefficiencies.
How can you know for certain which partner is worth trusting? There is no easy answer. You should always be on the lookout for industry/subindustry experts with proven track records and request demonstrations tailored specifically to your business processes. Be thorough in your research, make sure your implementation partner has relevant references, and don’t be afraid to ask tough questions. What capability differentiates one partner relative to all the others? What is the best way to leverage technology to overcome the very specific challenges in Life Sciences? Who are the people driving your transformation initiatives? These are very legitimate topics to discuss before coming to a decision.
Focus on Transforming These Key Areas
Life Sciences organizations have to adhere to strict rules when managing their most important shop floor processes. By providing your employees with a digital infrastructure to manage these rules, you’re setting up pathways to optimization everywhere. A solution that can simplify the tasks handled by your workforce and reduce the amount of time spent on ensuring compliance is well worth an investment. Let’s take a look at key areas of focus in Life Sciences.
Most manufacturers have to certify vendors with some sort of audit or review process and maintain that certification, or they can’t order materials from them. If not managed properly, this can actually shut down production, cause order delivery misses, and impact your customer experience. Certifying vendors without a centralized enterprise system is as inefficient as it is tedious, as every bit of information is handled manually, causing data discrepancies and errors.
Proactive management of Expiring Material Lots can have a significant impact on operational efficiency within your organization. Materials are driven by stability and can be re-tested in order to be assigned new expiry dates. In order to adhere to the customer order expiration date requirements, Life Sciences organizations need precise data on demand.
Companies that produce regulated material often have to ship quality related information, as well as carefully keep track of every single step of the production process (material used, work performed, process detailed, temperature, equipment). The way many companies are handling this today is on paper. Suffice it to say, this does not translate into optimal ROI metrics at the end of the year.
Many regulated manufacturers typically do a tremendous amount of quality testing, covering areas such as materials, vendors, end of production tests, testing of finished goods before they are sent, re-testing, etc. Many times, these tests can be reduced if the history of quality performance can be established, which requires a digital repository. Life Sciences organizations also have to capture data to verify the conditions in their production environments. This is also much easier with a centralized ERP solution. The same goes for storing documents related to testing protocols and specs for controls, audit trails, and revision management.
You know you are in a regulated industry if an incorrectly printed label requires you to follow protocol, document your next steps and make sure it doesn’t end up on a box that goes out to your customer. Controlled label printing, audit trails, second step verification on all material moves, and electronic signatures with workflows are all part of ensuring compliance. With all of the data that has to be captured during production and supply chain using scanning, digitalization is critical for efficiency.
The Avenues Leading to Digital
In Life Sciences, leveraging technology is meant to connect different aspects of your business multilaterally. Massive amounts of higher quality data can flow across channels and retain integrity at every level, providing you with unique insights that can influence your strategy. There are three perspectives to consider when thinking about harnessing this potential:
By being able to collect and analyze greater amounts of historical data, Life Sciences companies using next-gen ERP solutions are going to have more powerful forecasting tools than ever before. Digitalizing interactions with customers will lead to shorter time-to-market processes and optimized inventory management, as you’ll have a better overview of exactly what the market needs and when.
Imagine having real-time notifications about processes on your shop floor, the state of your equipment, the conditions you manufacture in, potential bottlenecks and their causes, the efficiency of your employees…the list goes on. When implementing a next-generation solution, optimizing your operations is arguably going to bring back most of your organization’s ROI.
The consistency of your efforts and the ability to stay compliant are going to depend on whether or not you have an industry-specific solution and a knowledgeable partner who can tailor it to your needs. As mentioned, regulated manufacturers have to be especially careful and follow strict protocols if a production-related issue arises. Having a system capable of helping you take a proactive approach to ensuring your product’s quality is essential.
For Life Sciences organizations, moving to digital is an immensely important process. Without it, the ability to accommodate for growth dwindles, as handling larger amounts of complex business processes manually becomes impossible. When selecting a partner, you should always talk to someone with the necessary experience and technology to support your vision, as a subpar solution could cost you even more time and resources in the long run. You can use this article as a general guide in your search, as well as contact Merit Solutions if you’re interested in learning how we guide customers on the journey to digital transformation.