Since 2020, the pharmaceutical industry has been grappling with frequent and rapid changes, shifting customer demands and increasing costs. In response, organisations have stepped up and adapted quickly, recognising opportunities to discover and trust new technology and approaches in an attempt to create resilience. However, for pharma businesses, the fact remains that most supply chains are still driven by activity and necessity instead of outcomes and possibilities.
So why is this happening? Due to the complex and specialist nature of the pharmaceutical industry, it often results in the siloing of data across different platforms and partners, which limits visibility and reduces resilience. When medicines are being transported to patients across the globe it is imperative that operators have a holistic view across a fully responsive supply chain. This is necessary to ensure that they can minimise or avoid disruption altogether. In order to achieve this, they need to utilise a data-led approach, that can facilitate a smoother transition from siloed and reactive to more proactive operational processes, which in turn, can increase resilience and ensure that businesses are well placed to satisfy customers and ultimately recognise revenue.
What we’ve seen therefore is that pharma businesses are not set up to be flexible and adaptable to changing market conditions, customer demand, and supply chain disruptions. From our analysis of the industry, we can conclude that there are 3 key priorities that need to be addressed in order to create truly resilient, outcome-driven supply chains:
• The need for end-to-end visibility
• Operational resilience
• Making your SLAs work for you
The Need for End-to-end Visibility
Visibility can be a tricky concept to define within the context of a supply chain, as its meaning can vary depending on the specific situation. While there are certain types of data that are generally useful, the key is to understand the ultimate objectives that organisations are aiming to achieve.
What we’ve found is that what organisations think of as a visibility problem is ultimately more specifically around missing revenue or costs, and a lot of businesses believe this is tied to inventory. Therefore, it’s crucial to focus on the outcomes that your business wants to achieve, and then determine what data is required to make that happen. In some cases, the necessary data may already exist outside the typical supply chain data path, and it may be necessary to obtain additional information to gain a more nuanced understanding of the situation. For example, as you’ll know in the pharmaceutical industry, it’s essential to have full visibility of temperature control data in order to ship any drug with a temperature-sensitive component, as this ensures the quality and safety of the product.