Pharmaceutical companies are turning increasingly to functional outsourcing approaches for their statistics and statistical programming needs, so building deep, longstanding partnerships is ever more important. In this article, I’ll discuss our approach to FSP relationships at Veramed, and especially how strong communication, governance, and knowledgeable account management enable transparent and high-quality solutions.

Understand that account management isn’t a process – it’s a journey.

At Veramed, account management is typically more a journey than a prescriptive process.  Empathy with the client is always the starting point, and excellent account management often means anticipating what a client needs before they know themselves! However, there is no defined blueprint; instead, successful CRO/sponsor relationships depend on a deep knowledge of the client and the ecosystem in which they operate.  That understanding often derives from longstanding industry experience and establishing multiple touchpoints within a client account.  In our close-knit industry, we tend to get to know our community very well. We typically have numerous interactions with a company and individuals in various iterations over the years – whether as a client, a vendor, or an employee. The active networks and established industry relationships of our operational and account management teams play into our ability to service our clients from a knowledgeable foundation. 

Pay attention to the details from the start

Meticulous onboarding enables an FSP partnership to launch from the right footing.  The process of building mutual trust begins as early as the first business development meeting, and ensuring complete transparency, open communication, and forging relationships at all levels between the CRO and sponsor team is vital.  Central to our approach at Veramed is developing a deep understanding of each client’s unique pain and pinch points and identifying ways to streamline workflows or provide additional support where required.

Rigorous processes and checklists underpin this dialogue at the onboarding stage to ‘cross the Is’ and ‘dot the Ts’ of training, SOP compliance, and IT setup before beginning any work on client systems.

Personalise governance and oversight

Governance frameworks are essential for successful FSP, but importantly, one size does not fit all. We tailor governance approaches and define the best way to provide transparency and oversight using the most appropriate touchpoints for that client.  For example, where we have multiple studies, we may need a more frequent cadence of meetings or the inclusion of additional stakeholders such as outsourcing managers alongside the functional leads.   

The governance framework provides the structure to both recognise success and pick up the happily rare cases where improvements need to be made. For us, that transparency and integrity is key to maintaining our reputation for quality.  There will be blips in even the smoothest relationships, but the critical aspect is recognising and addressing them.  We have actively promoted a company culture of raising issues rather than ignoring them, and so with that open dialogue in place, we can nip problems in the bud. 

Hire well to deliver with integrity

Integrity is one of our deeply held core values. At the heart of delivering with integrity is hiring the right talent who share our organisational values and dedication to quality biostatistics and programming work. 

This integrity cuts both ways, and balancing workload and resourcing realistically means that we protect the team’s work-life balance – notwithstanding the natural peaks and troughs of work. 

In the context of the pandemic, the heightened public appreciation for our sector’s work has impacted the team’s engagement with their role and with our clients.  As part of any functional service provider agreement, we routinely work in close collaboration with sponsors. Now our people feel even more intertwined with the development process and delivering new medicines for patients. 

Be creative in navigating communications

One of the surprisingly straightforward but instrumental factors in building a successful outsourcing partnership is creative communication using multiple channels. It is essential that we always proactively check assumptions and understanding regularly to keep projects moving forward in line with client expectations. 

One of the drawbacks of our new hybrid-virtual world is the increased noise that we all face in our inboxes and diaries. This information overload means that as CROs, we must be proactive and creative to ensure that communications make it through. Yet, with experience, and good management skills, we can navigate complex situations and ensure we get the responses we need to progress our projects. For this reason, as part of our training and development programme, we support junior team members with soft skills as well as technical skills training, empowering them to manage client relationships effectively. 

Henry Ford once said, “If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from his angle as well as your own”. Ultimately, while every outsourcing relationship is unique, our prevailing philosophy is to deliver projects under the principles of integrity, collaboration and excellence, and with the same dedication as a member of the client’s own internal team. While successful FSP management may not have a one-size-fits-all roadmap, keeping this ethos at the centre of our approach helps us build thriving and lasting relationships with clients of all sizes. 

To learn more about our FSP services, click below.

FSP Services