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ERP for Life Sciences: What Life Sciences Companies Can Learn from the Pandemic

Some life sciences companies are becoming household names due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Coming up with a cure or an antibody test is no simple task, and is even more challenging when it wasn’t on your business plan for the year to do so. This monumental shift in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an overwhelming need for organizations to quickly change direction and do it midstream. This is truly a significant challenge for many companies and industries, especially those regulated by the FDA. To that end, companies that have been able to pivot quickly to address this change are most able to meet these demands and advance science at accelerated rates. These organizations may need to evaluate ERP for life sciences companies so they are not just surviving through these tough times but adapting and thriving.

Pivoting quickly and changing direction mid-stream involves many factors. One of those factors would be a system or ERP, capable of adjusting to meet new requirements. Any ERP is truly only as good as the processes put in place. It can be supremely integrated and still perform poorly if processes are complex or convoluted. Any consultant will tell you this. However, what consultants won’t usually tell you is that most ERPs are inherently flawed. Many will say they come with best practices. But best practices according to whom? A best practice for one organization doesn’t necessarily translate to a best practice for another. Leading practices however is a term we prefer to use. If 8 out of 10 organizations your size and industry are following a process one way, it might behoove you to see why yours is working in a different way. There are significant benefits to avoiding customizing and keeping things as simple as possible. Advantages include simpler training, easier adoption and finally, manageable upkeep.  The real question you should ask is if there is a benefit to customizing? Is this process a differentiation of yours? Is it something that will significantly enhance productivity? Is it your secret sauce? If so, then absolutely find a way to do it. If not, then steer clear and adopt standard where possible. It isn’t necessarily easy to evaluate this, but you need to take the time to do it.

Assessing an ERP for Life Sciences Companies

Your ERP needs to step up to this challenge to support the changing needs around requirements, supply and demand. SAP S/4HANA is uniquely capable of handling said challenge. Not merely because it is integrated, many are these days. It is because it is built with solutions that address the need to be flexible and nimble. Now more than ever we need ERPs that can change as we change. It shouldn’t be cumbersome and quite frankly, it must run simple. Complexity in process only makes it harder to execute, not to mention train, adopt and finally, sustain. Simple and straightforward allows for organizations to be dynamic, change easily when it needs to, transition to remote when it has to, and continue to be productive with little to no ramp up. The current environment is challenging enough. Your ERP system shouldn’t add to that. The goal should be a seamless transition.

Organizations that can leverage this advantage of SAP S/4HANA will find they are riding the wave of change as opposed to fighting it. Efficient processes which are dynamic in nature will reap the rewards of stability and sustainability during tough times. How are your processes doing? Is your organization able to pivot and adapt during this challenging time? Understand where you want to go, and then choose an ERP that will get you there. Not the other way around. If you’re doing it the other way around, then you’re not steering the ship. You’re allowing the ship to steer you. Ships need captains. Not everything is on auto pilot.

One last point: an ERP only works well when it does, and then it doesn’t. When does it work well? It works well when everyone is using it the way it should be used. The way it was designed to be used. The COVID-19 pandemic has been an eye opener, forcing everyone to change the way they work and stay productive. You are always going to be pressured to leverage your ERP the best way possible. Clarkston can help. If you are interested in learning more about an ERP for life sciences companies, please contact us today.

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