There is continuous evaluation and varying opinion regarding the strategic resourcing models employed within the biopharmaceutical sector today. 

Notwithstanding the recent hurdles created by Covid-19, understanding the human resources capital that biopharmaceutical companies employ and the talent they hope to attract should form the foundation of effective strategies in workforce planning, proactive analytics and talent supply chain management.

The most viable of these strategies has been the use of a functional service provider (FSP) model to augment in-house staff to meet the variable resource needs of a clinical operations team. This popular model was born on the heels of various strategic partnership arrangements that evolved over time in the space and it became a common offering within the outsourcing community.

As a result of the many mergers and acquisitions in the space, very few pureplay focused FSP providers remain, as the majority have been absorbed into large CRO operations with full-service offerings.

Following the recent pandemic and the challenges it presented to the life sciences sector, and with the expansion and transformation of R&D portfolios into more specialised drug compounds, the strategies used by firms to engage quality talent must eventually enable scientists and clinical research professionals to focus on speed-to-market, innovation and rapid decision-making to address changing needs.

Cost savings of outsourcing

Functional outsourcing can deliver demonstrated cost savings, versus a full-service CRO model, in terms of operational efficiency and the overall reduction of programme budgets. As biopharmaceutical companies have increased their outsourcing, they have been forced to maintain internal overheads associated with the oversight of the work performed by a third-party full service outsourcing (FSO) company.

Often, sponsors have been able to reduce the overheads devoted to full-service contracting by leveraging the FSP model. In an FSP relationship, where the emphasis is on managing providers by function, sponsors can maintain strategic oversight and direction.

The talent supply chain must become more flexible and adaptive to remain competitive in the marketplace – a key differentiating feature of the original FSP model.

Understanding the needs of the talent pool

Further, biopharmaceutical and medical device companies must be tuned into the needs of this talent pool, and better understand their personal desire for growth opportunities, job satisfaction, competitive compensation, daily intellectual stimulus, the collaborative nature of the work environment, and the overall reputation and corporate culture of the firm.

The FSP model gives biopharmaceutical companies the flexibility and faster talent acquisition they need to address this new normal in the post-pandemic workplace.

The inherent benefits of the FSP model include, but are not limited to, the following characteristics:

  • Embedded resources dedicated to a given project
  • Flexible, scalable roles to address the peaks and valleys of trial requirements
  • The sponsor maintains the name and brand connectivity with the sites, patients and investigators
  • Inherently higher retention rates of team members
  • High-quality deliverables of seasoned, credentialled professionals
  • Enhanced and streamlined communication pathways
  • More cost-effective use of R&D budgets

Over the last decade, the markets for life sciences products and services have increased exponentially, so it is essential to have the right talent. Business operations have expanded to serve these markets, and the size and availability of the workforce has been a critical factor in industry growth.

Adapting to change

But the industry and the workforce are changing, and employers must be proactive in planning to meet staffing challenges head-on when they occur. The pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries have historically failed to invest sufficient resources in building internal teams and developing long-term succession plans for their workforce.

Established firms are increasingly partnering specialist organisations to fill their talent gaps in the short term. Stand-alone FSP solutions companies such as KPS Life can offer valuable assistance in locating contractors with niche skills, as well as streamlining and accelerating the hiring process to fill critical positions quickly.

In the end, biopharmaceutical companies need to take a holistic approach to their talent supply chain and human capital strategies to identify the right talent, at the right time, in the right place, as an investment in drug development and leverage their product portfolios over the next decade.

Author: Kevin Duffy, chief commercial officer, KPS Life