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Using Technology to Overcome Resourcing Challenges

Tim Neathery, PPD’s senior vice president of human resources, writes about how technology can help pharma and biopharma companies gain efficiency in capacity management and resourcing.

In this industry, we’re all working on an important mission together – getting new medicines to patients who need them. To fulfill this mission, we have to master the resourcing challenge.

There has long been fierce competition for talent in our space, and the coronavirus pandemic has only added complexity and urgency. But, competing companies are all looking for the same people, creating an issue. We all share the need to maintain a highly-skilled workforce. Everyone is wondering how to continue fueling growth and delivering qualified staff in a timely manner, while looking for better ways to streamline resourcing in a functional service provider (FSP) model. I believe technology is essential to meeting these challenges.

It’s all possible with PPD technology

PPD® FSP Source is our all-in-one capacity management solution, designed to make forecasting more effective, expand access to services and talent, protect budgets, and position biopharma clients for success by saving money and increasing resourcing transparency. We have more than 24,000 global human resources in 87 countries, working for clients on an hourly FTE or unitized contract basis. We manage and fulfill hundreds of global requests every day using FSP Source.  

A better way to do enterprise capacity management

What distinguishes PPD’s success in capacity management is our unique internal resourcing capabilities. We’re able to take global data from many different data sources and evaluate our clients’ staffing status on an hour-by-hour basis. FSP Source also gives our clients full visibility to who we have internally or externally available in a six-, nine- or 12-month-window. This allows us to help them plan for capacity at a granular level, by skill set and by function.

Our first priority is to look at where studies are ramping up or down. FSP Source’s smart algorithms and project management software lets us “see the future” of resourcing needs. This increases our recruiting team’s focus and effectiveness. We use our internal recruiting engine to fill 95% of the roles, tapping into our integrated and highly trained workforce. Sometimes there will be a gap, and that’s when we reach out to trusted vendors for contract resources.

PPD FSP Source helps you find clinical research resources, precisely when and where you need them

Through this secure web application, FSP clients have a central point for communications, demand planning and management. The system offers access to real-time, high-quality forecasting, resourcing and operational data through three key modules.

  • Forecast: Generate quick ramp-up and ramp-down estimates.
  • Request: Create easy online requisitions.
  • Analyze: Make better decisions with robust resourcing metrics and operational KPIs to measure team progress and engagement.

Why it matters to FSP clients: Efficiency is golden

Some people mistakenly believe simply having an FSP model gives them control of their resourcing and they don’t have to think about it anymore. In reality, that control is fleeting if you don’t have the capacity management piece in place. Knowing exactly when, where and how many people are needed is necessary for maintaining an edge. It’s critical to ensuring quality, accelerating timelines and maximizing savings with an FSP approach.

We often see companies under- or over-resourcing because they just don’t have systems to help them forecast accurately. This inefficiency is costly on a number of levels. PPD focuses on making sure our FSP clients are as efficiently resourced as possible, while they focus on the important task of drug development. Systems such as FSP Source give us the scalability to help attract, manage and deploy talent skillfully and cost-effectively.

During the challenge of COVID-19

Our resourcing technology has helped us with capacity management during the pandemic, allowing us to realize operational efficiencies to overcome resourcing challenges.

  • PPD’s creative resourcing strategies led to minimal disruption to the workforce
  • Able to fill openings in 30 days
  • All resources in place to support clients’ COVID-19 clinical trials

Helping clients improve the life of patients

Clinical development and the technologies that drive it only will continue to evolve. Our pharma and biotech clients are relying on us more than they ever have as they find that outsourcing is the most effective way to meet their goals. In my 18 years at PPD, my most powerful inspiration always has been that our work is helping to bring life-changing therapies to patients who need them most. My team is helping to put our important mission into practice. It doesn’t get any better than that.