Oliver Wilsdon

Managing Consultant

  • Digital Transformation
  • Life Sciences
  • Pharma
  • IT Transformation

24 Jun, 2021

Why pharma needs a people-centric approach to IT transformation

There’s no doubt that the speed and breadth of delivery on digital transformation initiatives in the Pharma industry has increased exponentially in the last few years – particularly in the current climate of a global pandemic. 

The mantra ‘People, Process & Technology’ is everywhere and it isn’t wrong. But sometimes the emphasis is in the wrong place. Implementing technology is easy, even process optimisation can be straightforward. But what really makes your digital transformation successful - but can often be overlooked - is people.

Change is always difficult. People are invested in their current technologies and processes. They built them, they use them, and they own and govern them. Unfortunately, this has contributed to a siloed mentality in pockets across the Life Sciences industry, with colleagues reluctant to let go of what they know – particularly while they focus on their most important goal, saving and improving patient lives.

At Chaucer, we are often engaged by clients to help their organisations drive and manage digital change, because we understand the value of a people-centric approach.

The Fear Factor

Digital transformation can be intimidating, especially in the age of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Will my job become redundant? I’m not technical, will I be able to use these new tools? Where do I fit now? I don’t have time for all this!

These are common concerns, which a people-centric approach can address. There are some key principles that Chaucer follows to ensure that your organisation really transforms, and drives change from within.

#1 Open commitment and drive from Leadership

It is critical to develop leadership habits which shape a rapidly adaptive environment. A clear vision and transparency during the change at the C-Suite level helps align across functions and ensures a clear beacon for people to embrace. As consultants, we have supported many leaders with creation of their vision, development of strategies to both inspire and empower their teams, as well as mature behaviours and a mindset which enables rapid, continuous and effective change.

#2 The Power of Listening

While the challenges in this space may conceptually be the same, this can manifest itself differently in each organisation. We take time to understand the different needs and pathways within the organisation, the history driving the change and the need for staff throughout the organisation to be involved in decisions about the strategy. This gives us a clear direction on how to foster engagement and alignment on change. Chaucer has often been appointed to bring key initiatives back on track where this step has been missed – often after millions of pounds/dollars of expenditure on tools that are never used.

We’ve seen what digital initiatives can do, but we’ve also seen how they can fail without understanding the perspective of employees on the front line. One large pharmaceutical company invested a lot of money in an omni-channel approach, but after two years of poor uptake, the company turned to us to train employees on the system. What we learned through listening to those teams is that employees understood how to use the system and didn’t need training by us on which button to press; what they needed was support to start using it and education into how digital tools might help them to exploit their data assets. Clearly articulating those benefits but pairing them with education on how to achieve those benefits is the foundation of embedding the change.

#3 Embrace agility

An Agile mindset and methodologies can speed up your rate of change, ensure a laser focus on what is most valuable to your business and empower and engage your employees. Following Agile principles allows more frequent stakeholder feedback and iterative adjustments to ensure your delivery and communications are relevant and valuable. It also empowers your employees to make decisions on strategy and delivery and has a clear role to play in driving change.

At Chaucer, we have used Agile methodologies for technology implementations, strategy creation and process development, supported by continuous communications as part of the methodology. One of our clients saw the immediate benefits on a project which had stalled for over a year. Kickstarting it with Agile meant delivery in six months and engaged stakeholders who had a key role in shaping the deliverables.

A people-centric approach underpins everything we do. By applying these principles, we leave our clients with successful transformations, enhanced and reusable skillsets and of course, a contribution to the fundamental mission of improving the lives of patients.

To find out more about how Chaucer can help your organisation deliver successful life sciences projects please contact Oliver.Wilsdon@chaucer.com

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