May 05, 2016

TGaS: Becoming Indispensable Business Partners

East Norriton, Penn. May 5, 2016. TGaS® Advisors' Spring Client Summit, "Becoming Indispensable Business Partners: It's Easier (and More Fun) Than You Think," drew a record 165 clients representing 36 life sciences companies to the day-long event in Chicago in April. Keynote speaker Jeff Havens used comedy to show participants how small changes in communication strategies can be "the most important and least expensive way" to strengthen relationships, increase loyalty and create an unbreakable culture of teamwork and mutual respect.

Seven TGaS Advisors core practices and three new solutions held breakout sessions, including Executive Commercial Operations, Contract Management, Digital & Multichannel Marketing, Incentive Compensation, Managed Markets, Marketing Operations, Marketing Sciences, Medical/Regulatory/Legal Review, Sales Operations and Training & Development. Highlights:

Executive Commercial Operations: Cross-Function Acumen: "Ops For Ops." Commercial Operations leaders representing 11 companies confirmed that effective cross-function acumen is difficult to institutionalize, but they are working to change the game. Success factors include reversing the unintended consequences associated with an "SLA (Service Level Agreement)" mentality, new hiring practices, rotational programs to build awareness and knowledge, aligned incentives and business acumen training. Commercial leaders recommended such strategies as "ops for ops" to break down silos and promote customer focus. Others discussed leveraging predictive analytics for guiding best next calls, tactics and content for providers based on the broader healthcare landscape; and aligning account management resources and value with key Organized Customer Groups.

Contract Management: Pricing Committee Operations; Gross-to-Net Function. The content and structure of Pricing Committee meetings, including who attends, presents and votes, sub-committees and their responsibilities and related matters was a key topic. TGaS presented Best Practices, including limiting reviews to 15-20% of total contracts. Better ways of managing the Gross-to-Net function and why it has become thoroughly integrated with contract administration was also discussed. Some of the most challenging items to estimate include the price increase impact of price protection, channel management, Medicaid disputes and back bills and Medicaid PDL changes.

Digital and Multichannel Marketing: Point of Continuity for Brands and Agencies; Efficiency Goals; Customer Centricity Initiatives. Digital and Multichannel Marketing Centers of Excellence continue to be a centralized hub responsible for innovation, upskilling their organization and providing a point of continuity between brands and agency partners. What is new is a trend towards efficiency goals. Innovation and pilot programs are being viewed through the lens of delivering on a unique value proposition as well as the ability of the pilot to scale rapidly. Organizations already committed to becoming more customer centric are embracing healthy literacy initiatives, therapeutic area holistic support services and appointing C-level executives focused on the patient experience.

Incentive Compensation: Marketing IC Plans; "Motivating the Middle"; Sharing Results with Stakeholders. TGaS research shows that Incentive Compensation (IC) plans are not well understood. This session focused on how companies can market their IC plans to drive engagement and motivation. Topics also included "Motivating the Middle" and effective methods for sharing results with stakeholders in ways that drive understanding and decision making.

Managed Markets: Structures; Pull-Through; Access; Analytics. Participants were most interested in Managed Markets structures, especially Account Management; pull-through best practices and changing perceptions of healthcare providers; access and patient services, particularly reimbursement; analytics for tracking ROI for pull-through and post-contract; and training for Managed Markets.

Marketing Sciences: Sustainability of Commercial Model; Customer Focus; Scaling Up Capabilities. Marketing Sciences discussed Disruption, addressing the most pressing and contemporary issues facing Marketing Sciences leaders while sharing best practices, experiences and perspectives. Three key topics predominated, reflecting leaders' consensus and pointing to issues at the core of 2016-2017 priorities: 1) ensuring ongoing sustainability of the commercial operations model; 2) transforming the organization's customer focus' and 3) upskilling/scaling capabilities to respond to an evolving industry landscape and commercial needs.

Marketing Operations: Leadership Issues; Agency Management; Speaker Programs. Marketing Operations professionals addressed leadership issues; promotional material production and the use of internal agencies/creative services; and speaker programs. Steve Descovich, the Enterprise Agency Director at Astra Zeneca who leads an organization to better plan, create, measure, educate and govern agency outputs, spoke on improving agency management. The group also focused on the top challenges across the full Speaker Program spectrum, how technology is driving changes, and accommodating and managing speakers while staying within company guidelines.

Medical/Regulatory/Legal: Building "Best in Industry" Capabilities; Rising Volume, Complexity. At the first-ever TGaS Medical/Regulatory/Legal (MRL) Summit, MRL leaders and staff explored the many facets of building a "best in industry" capability, including process optimization, technology, metrics and analytics, governance, roles and responsibilities, training and change management. Notable industry trends, challenges, opportunities and solutions include rising submission volume, increased complexity of digital assets, review cycle times and promotional content management.

Sales Operations: Spanning Commercial and Medical; Interactivity; Analytics. Sales Operations leaders discussed changing organizational support requirements that now span Commercial and Medical divisions and creating "safe" working environments. While an increase in support goes across Commercial and Medical, it has not resulted in greater integration or collaboration, with many customer activities and resourcing needs remaining siloed. Additional concerns include team development; finding new talent; interactivity with partner organizations; data management; and evolving analytics and reporting needs.

Training & Development: Current and Future States of Learning. The Training & Development session covered current and future states of learning and challenges leaders face. Participants shared key initiatives that the TGaS team compared and contrasted to benchmark findings and ex-industry trends. The session concluded with a look to the future of learning by defining the possibilities for training departments.

About TGaS® Advisors.

TGaS Advisors is the leading benchmarking and advisory services firm for commercial organizations in the life sciences industry. With a roster of top 50, emerging and precommercial life sciences companies, TGaS provides robust comparative intelligence and collaborative network membership services. The team includes more than 50 experienced professionals, most with senior level experience in the life sciences and related industries.