Life Sciences

Could Managed Services Be the Strategic + Tactical Catalyst Your Life Sciences Teams Need?

Assured Managed Services Support
Vicky Green

Vicky Green, Client Executive

Perficient’s life sciences industry experts have offered managed services for many years. I recently sat down with Vicky Green, a client executive who supports several life sciences accounts including pharmaceuticals, clinical research organizations, nutraceuticals, biomedical technologies, medical device, and biotechnology to get answers to some of the questions she receives from our customers. Vicky has a tremendous amount of application and database support experience across many applications and platforms, as well as consulting and research experience. Our conversation explored clients’ pain points and how a managed services partnership can (and does) address them.

1. What are managed services?

Managed services allow organizations to make the most out of their systems and applications. I define managed services as a consulting and support service that provides the best business practices for each individual customer’s specific business processes.

Managed services providers must bring a strong base of industry business knowledge in addition to sound understanding in technical consulting, strategic thinking, and support. A good managed services provider aims to equip all groups and levels within an organization, building clarity around the benefits of using optimized business processes – not only to meet strategic goals, but to overcome operational struggles and streamline day-to-day work as well.

In life sciences, we offer four core levels of managed services:

  • Tier/Level I: Basic Solution Support MSO. Offers user and application support, such as user provisioning and management – like setting up accounts, access, disable, modify, password resets – and other common requests like correct URL application/environment, browser compatibility, connectivity issues, etc.
  • Tier/Level II: SME Support MSO. Requires more in-depth technical, subject matter, industry, and application expertise. This type of role is able to deal with requests like “My PSUR is not running correctly for a submission,” or “My edit check is not working correctly.” It also includes answering escalated how-to questions, error troubleshooting, and more.
  • Tier/Level III: Advanced Support MSO. Dives more deeply into application support of the underlying database and middle-tier servers and addresses application-based bug fixes and security risk considerations. This tier also offers gap assessments, enhancements, validation expertise, internal and/or vendor audit support, and process re-engineering to equip your teams with solutions that are better tooled to your business workflows. It introduces training materials and content like videos, user guides, and job aides to help you more effectively train and equip your evolving workforce to use business platforms and processes with confidence.
  • Tier/Level IV: Strategic Application Business Support MSO. Goes a step further and adds business and technical consulting application life cycle management to the mix, pulling together even more industry and technical knowledge. Tier IV MSO providers really dive into addressing questions like “What is the business trying to accomplish?,” “What are the impacts of the applications now and in the future?,” or “How quickly does the business need their applications streamlined?.” A core component of Tier IV is the creation of roadmaps to proactively evolve applications and processes that can withstand regulatory headwinds, an evolving competitive landscape, and industry trends. This roadmap process elevates your strategic awareness and planning around processes and technology. Importantly, this support model continuously drives progress forward with roadmap updates rather than taking a “one and done” approach.

The first two tiers of support are limited and restricted to addressing only certain types of challenges, but Tier III and IV support allow us to help with enhancements as well as more complex requests.

With Tiers III and IV, customers purchase blocks of time, which enables them to be much more flexible and more rapidly respond to client requests. It also prevents the need to create SOWs when a business need that requires assistance arises. Our customers love this approach, as we plan with them for the coming year or two based on a roadmap for their business.  It helps them budget, plan, and clearly present trackable goals to their management. It also allows organizations to quickly pivot, as scoping and SOW processes can take weeks.

Managed services are helpful because organizations are always pivoting, and businesses get blinded by how quickly they need to move. An MSO helps alleviate the panic and potential budget deficits that can occur when unplanned complications arise.

Also, many organizations are not accustomed to working with certain software vendors. Perficient teaches organizations about these vendors’ programs and applications. We execute managed services in a way that builds a trusting relationship between our team and the organizations we’re supporting, keeping their unique business goals in mind.

Having a managed services partner like Perficient gives organizations the resources they don’t have in house, allowing their teams to focus on their job and strategic priorities rather than dealing with day-to-day technical challenges.

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Continuing to evolve your business planning, budgeting proactively with an MSO partner has more benefits than you may realize. Consider if your team is overwhelmed learning a multitude of applications and simply trying to keep the business running on a daily basis. Or perhaps you’re struggling to find talent with the expertise and industry know-how that you need. A quality MSO partner not only fits these gaps but also becomes a true partner in your progress.

2. How do managed services work for customers no matter where their business applications/systems are installed?

Our clients host data and tools in a variety of ways, including a software vendor’s cloud, AWS, Google, Microsoft Azure, Perficient LS Compliant Cloud, or on-premise.

We work with organizations to determine what is working well and the pain points where they need assistance. For instance, I see a lot of customers struggle in the new world of moving to the cloud and sometimes not knowing who they go to for what. A good MSO provider can offer valuable direction in the midst of ambiguity, bringing deep industry, technical, and business expertise to bear.

A lot goes into supporting organizations’ systems and applications, and even small companies use, on average, around 22 systems in their day-to-day operations. So, think of how many systems need be supported and the knowledge you need to truly help support them. That’s where the right managed services partner can truly help your organization cut through the clutter and accelerate user productivity with the applications and systems that truly impact business deadlines and company goals.

3. Why should a company have strategic application business support as part of a managed services agreement?

The key to Tier IV support is that it is proactive rather than reactive. It builds collaboration around a forward-looking roadmap and deepens organizational understanding of processes, enabling you to more quickly and nimbly ramp up and achieve business objectives. Tier IV MSO thinks beyond the one-off tactical efforts that are more common to Tier I-III support alone, and it aligns your tactical initiatives to the business’s strategy and objectives.

Once a Tier IV agreement is in place, there’s so much we can do. Our customers use it in ways that best support their business needs, but all point to one main opportunity: to create a roadmap that focuses on what they want to accomplish in 12 to 36 months.

This roadmap informs Tier III’s tactical execution and can include:

  • Gap assessments or analyses to help prepare and budget for upgrades, system replacements, and impacts on business
  • New enhancements or changes to the system due to regulatory changes, business needs, and process improvement for validation, change control, business processes/guidelines
  • System integrations
  • Data migration
  • Custom reports
  • Training plans and programs, such as 1:1 training, group training, custom training materials based on customers’ specific system and setups, exercises and training, information maintenance, and system upgrades

4. A company approaches you for managed services. How do you start the process? What are the first things you do?

Like any other project, we go into discovery mode. First, we want to understand their current support model better. How do they currently handle Tier I and Tier II support? What applications do they have? We also want to truly understand their everyday pain points. We know companies struggle with system user adoption and that technology and processes are constantly changing.

Perficient understands software, but we also understand our customers’ business processes and goals. We have a wealth of industry expertise on our teams. Our strategists and delivery teams come from pharma, biotech, medical device, and CRO industries. Prior to joining Perficient, many of our colleagues worked with the various software platforms we support today, so we understand that getting these issues fixed is essential because downtime impacts efficiency and innovation. Our experience also allows us to better communicate with vendors and drive toward faster resolution.

5. Which applications does Perficient help support?

The list of systems is long. As it pertains to software and platforms used in the clinical, regulatory, and safety space, we support clients who use Oracle (legacy and new generation), Axway, Medidata, Veeva, Jeeva Informatics, Lokavant, Liquent, and SAS. We find that our deep understanding of clinical, regulatory, and safety can be applied to most vendors. And our managed services capabilities don’t stop there.  The largest enterprises have turned to us to manage services for business productivity, MarTech, and so much more. And since we pride ourselves on being an organization not tied to one specific vendor, our clients trust us to keep their business goals, employee productivity, and consumer expectations at the heart of progress.

Learn More About Our Life Sciences Solutions

Leading life sciences organizations rely on us for strategic and technical expertise to achieve their missions. Our thought leaders are here to support you in achieving business goals and solving your most complex technology challenges. Learn more about Perficient’s Life Sciences solutions, and contact us to discuss your specific goals.

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Lysa Young-Bates

Lysa (pronounced "Lisa") manages marketing for Perficient's end-to-end digital healthcare solutions.

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