Implementing a Pre-Commercial Client – Working with the Unknown
Aggressive timelines, shifting priorities and high stakes business objectives mean there is never an easy time for a life sciences company to implement a CRM system. For firms launching their first product, it’s both more daunting and more important to invest in a system that will help these companies flourish in their transformation to newly-commercial firms
Over a career of five years in life sciences, I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with customers on more than fifteen Veeva CRM implementations. Across all these launches, however, among the most exciting—and the most rewarding—is implementing Veeva CRM as a foundation for pre-commercial clients.
In recent months, I’ve had the opportunity to work on two projects for pre-commercial clients. To help ensure your teams are ready for launch day—fully empowered with Veeva CRM—I’ve compiled some best practices and insights to keep in mind as you juggle bringing your first product to market and implementing a CRM system to help make sure it is a success.
Developing Field Forces
One challenge in pre-commercial client implementation, is that there may be a limited number of stakeholders available during the requirements and iterative review phases. Both of my pre-commercial clients, for instance, were in the process of hiring and developing their field forces during the implementation.
When faced with this challenge, it’s important to clearly identify the key decisions that will lead to a successful deployment. While it’s crucial to prioritize day one needs and focus on essential core functionality to meet your main business processes, it’s also important to take advantage of the flexibility of cloud technology. This involves proactively planning a change control process and release management strategy to deploy enhancements in future releases post go-live. Remember, the speed and configurability of cloud means that functionality which is not there on day one can be released in future implementations.
Shifting Milestone Dates
When working with a pre-commercial client, planning a go-live date that coincides with the commercial launch can be challenging. The commercial launch is often a soft date that is dependent on the drug’s FDA approval. In some instances, the drug may be fast tracked, which will move timeline dates up. It’s important to stay ahead of the curve and be prepared to shift milestone dates to meet your objectives. An expert project team will have experience planning for the unexpected and will work with you to adjust the plan to reach a successful go-live.
When companies are ramping up for their first launch, the CRM project is not their only priority. Directors are hiring managers, managers are hiring reps, legal compliance teams are educating the new teams, marketing is working on branding the product and leadership is working to keep all of the pieces together. There is a lot going on and the CRM implementation is competing for time from all of the key players. This can often lead to shifting meeting times and decreased face-time with the business. It’s important to make use of the time you have available with them and be prepared to adjust and stand meetings up on the fly.
Guiding the Client into the Commercial CRM Landscape
Often times, members of the business are learning the rules of engagement on the commercial landscape. When it comes to CRM, you should be able to trust your project team to provide insight and guidance on key decision-making.
Although making the transition to a commercial company can seem like a daunting task, it really provides an excellent opportunity to set yourself up for success with the right commercial operations. Cloud-based and built specifically for life sciences, Veeva CRM is designed to help companies deliver a customer-centric, tailored engagement strategy across all channels. And along with cloud technology and industry expertise, a strong customer success focus is built into our DNA—meaning that we’re with you every step of the way.