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Creating a Part Number Strategy for a Biotech Company

Clarkston recently partnered with a biotech company and created a part number strategy. This client develops and delivers life-changing treatments for people living with blood-based disorders, as well as develops additional investigational treatments that have the potential to better the lives of patients. As a young and growing organization in the biopharmaceutical industry, the client had aggressive plans for major commercial expansion.  

The introduction of several new products and the expansion into new global markets added additional complexity to their existing supply chain and raised concerns that the current ways of working were no longer suitable. The client recognized the urgent need to evolve current supply chain processes and procedures. Areas that they felt required immediate attention included inventory control, jurisdictional control, and supply chain planning.  

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The client engaged Clarkston’s life science and supply chain experts to conduct an assessment of their current inventory management framework. Clarkston was tasked with providing recommendations on future strategic initiatives and improvements with a focus on process improvements that would be scalable and sustainable to meet future business need. The Clarkston team engaged with client stakeholders across Supply Chain, Finance, Technical Operations, Quality, and IT to get a cross-functional understanding of the client’s end to end supply chain and most critical challenges. 

Through extensive interviews and review of existing documentation the Clarkston team gained insight into the major challenges of the client’s existing supply chain process and tools. This exercise revealed several recurring themes – a lack of visibility into the end-to-end inventory, a complex part numbering system with inconsistent execution and poor adoption, incomplete bill of materials (BoM), and a lack of a functioning jurisdictional control process.  

A deeper dive into these themes revealed that the client’s existing part numbering system and proliferation of part numbers was a cornerstone for several of its challenges. The existing system had created additional layers of unnecessary complexity impacting ancillary systems and other business processes. For example, the current system revealed duplicate part numbers, descriptions that did not help identify materials, no process to obsolete part numbers, and lack of material master data or planning attributes needed for a commercial supply chain with aspirations to use a MRP/ERP system. Also noted was a lack of links between part numbers, Bill of Materials, specifications and jurisdictional control. This lack of a robust, user-friendly process to determine jurisdictional control has introduced unnecessary risk to the business that had to be mitigated immediately. 

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Foundational elements, such as part numbers, bill of materials and jurisdictional control are the building blocks for an integrated end-to-end supply chain. These processes must be well established to support a growing commercial organization. The Clarkston team outlined a set of initiatives and implementation roadmap that prioritized these foundational processes in the short term, and immediately partnered with the client to perform a complete re-engineering of their part number system and supporting processes.  

Execution of this effort yielded several key benefits for the client such as a 50% reduction in the number of part numbers compared to what existed before, clear and concise descriptions that helped stakeholders identify materials quickly, and a link between other part numbers, Bill of Materials, Specifications and Jurisdictional Control. Additionally, in parallel with the part number re-engineering effort, the Clarkston team collaborated with the supply chain team to gather planning attribute data that will be used to support their future MRP/ERP implementation.  

The end goal that Clarkston was trying to achieve, was to help the client re-establish the key foundational elements necessary for a globally integrated end-to-end supply chain. By addressing these key fundamental processes first, Clarkston and the client were able to collectively pave the way for capturing the longer-term downstream initiatives that will further support its scalable expansion.  

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