Using DPMM to build the future digital journey

12 September 2022
Information Technology

The context

BioPhorum’s Digital Plant Maturity Model (DPMM) describes the five levels of maturity, from simple paper-based plants to the fully automated and integrated ‘adaptive plant’ of the future.

It enables IT professionals to have the right conversations with the right stakeholders about the opportunities and priorities to transform biologic operations for digital systems. It is built using real learnings from a team of BioPhorum member companies and it is being used by non-members and a significant proportion of members.

The 2018 DPMM update simplified the model by reducing the number of business dimensions and enabling capabilities (e.g., ‘manufacturing execution and process automation’ and ‘people and culture’) and increased consistency by leveling the scores across these. It also reset the vision for Levels 4 and 5. BioPhorum’s IT Digital Plant team also developed a Maturity Assessment Tool to be used alongside the DPMM.

Here, three industry leaders talk about using the DPMM and how it is helping their companies map their biopharmaceutical digital transformation journey.

How has the DPMM been adopted by your company?

“While I was at Merck, my job was to lead the architecture for its extensive manufacturing division,” said Sonia Banerjee, Global Lead for Portfolio Architecture and Quality Systems at Gilead. “I used the DPMM assessment with my IT colleagues to score sites and incorporate the results into their portfolio plans.”

She added, “But we realized that the DPMM wasn’t prescriptive and was subject to interpretation and so needed to include more guidance on how to evaluate each level. That was when the BioPhorum team put together the Maturity Assessment Tool.”

Now Banerjee is at Gilead, she is continuing to use the model. “We don’t have many manufacturing sites because a lot of work is done externally. So we worked with a consultancy to take the DPMM and create a one-plant model to evaluate our current and future state expectations. However, when we talk to our stakeholders and business partners, we lead with the DPMM approach as it is more recognizable as an industry standard.”

Yves Berthouzoz, Head of Biotech Operations IT and Global Development & Launch IT at Merck, said it had applied the DPMM across all of its healthcare and life science sites with a little customization.

The members recognize that having a joint interest in solving challenges and open participation enables the team to solve problems more easily than trying to achieve solutions on their own.

What are the benefits of the DPMM?

“If you are looking for a model to give you a picture of your network, the DPMM is simple, clear and provides a view across all your sites,” added Berthouzoz. “The five levels allow you to create targets and, if you need help, it gives you ideas of how to progress. This can be really useful when asking for support from your sponsor.”

Banerjee explained that there were significant benefits because industry’s thought leaders had developed the model. “These are expert practitioners who have brought their collective knowledge together. It’s not something that has been developed by consultants who maybe have an ulterior motive of selling you services or products.” She added that it also shows how everyone in our ecosystem is trying to solve the same problems. “It lets us align our thought processes, influence our vendors, and create collective synergies.”

Bruce Kane, Global Life Science Industry Consultant at Rockwell Automation, suggested that many parts of the DPMM can apply to other industries. “For example, I’ve promoted it to the oil and gas industry so companies can see where they are in their digital transformation journey. It provides lots of examples, the model lets you select the ratings, and the descriptions help people understand the different stages of the journey. As an equipment supplier, we’ve used the model with our customers to assess and plan projects to move along the digital transformation continuum.”

But it is not just during site assessments where the DPMM can add value, it can help when selecting external companies. “When I’m evaluating a vendor or consultant,” said Banerjee, “if they’re familiar with the DPMM, it gives me comfort that they have the right industry knowledge. For example, we were doing a feasibility assessment for a particular type of facility and the outside engineering firm said it was going to make some proposals rooted in the DPMM. That made it much easier for the firm to talk to me and get selected rather than someone just giving me a cost-saving approach.”

So why has the DPMM been so successful?

“The bottom line is that it’s based on the collective knowledge of industry thought leaders,” explained Banerjee. “These are real practitioners. The DPMM is not a consultant’s document where we are not quite certain whether they are a true practitioner in the field.”

The DPMM also stands out against other measurement models. “Other readiness measures are available,” said Kane, “but I think they’re quite one-dimensional, while the DPMM gives a broader, more complete picture. As a result, it provides good coverage of all the aspects of a modern life science biopharmaceutical manufacturing plant.

Berthouzoz suggested that although other options are available, the DPMM is commonly used as it is industry-built and simple.

The bottom line is that it’s based on the collective knowledge of industry thought leaders. These are real practitioners. The DPMM is not a consultant’s document where we are not quite certain whether they are a true practitioner in the field.

Final thoughts

“The DPMM is also a great onboarding document,” said Banerjee. “Those new to architecture or automation might not know what it entails, so the DPMM gives them a great insight. It’s also a yardstick against which we measure other maturity assessments.”

Kane added that as well as being a model to measure yourself against some desired future state, “it also provides an opportunity to measure one site, plant or factory against another site, plant or factory within an organization. This lets an enterprise paint a picture of what it needs to do to move along that maturity curve.”

Ultimately, Kane saw the DPMM as a roadmap. “As with any map, the first thing you must do is find out where you are and then figure out where you want to go. In this type of tool, there should always be an aspirational step. The DPMM is not only good at showing where you are but at painting a picture of where you want to be, of what’s possible. That’s why the DPMM is so powerful.”

A view from industry on the implication of the new Annex 1 requirements on visual inspection process
Maine and Minnesota – the BioPhorum responses to US state PFAS consultations
BioPhorum Supply Partner has become Supply Resilience
BioPhorum’s sustainability ambition – let’s move out of the holding pattern
Building a resilient business means adopting water stewardship

Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products

Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products support the quest for better and faster development of cell, gene and RNA therapies​ through connecting therapy developers, contract manufacturing, and testing organizations to gain an understanding and respond to the challenges faced by the advanced therapeutics industry.

Development Group

Development Group accelerates and improves the development process of biopharmaceutical medicines for the benefit of the patient. Replacing isolation with collaboration by providing a “safe” space where subject matter experts can work on sharing solutions and best practice on emerging industry trends, implementation of new technologies and common issues whilst ensuring their intellectual property and confidentiality is protected.

Drug Substance

Drug Substance advances excellence in drug substance manufacturing and testing, acting as an industry voice to accelerate technology adoption, implement post-approval change more rapidly and increase confidence in maintaining compliance.

Fill Finish

Fill Finish accelerates development and acceptance of sustainable world-class filling and packaging operations for drug product which meets the future needs of patients. Through innovative solutions resulting from the sharing of expertise, we can overcome common performance challenges and deliver on quality and regulatory compliance.

Information Technology

Information Technology accelerates digital maturity across the ​global pharmaceutical manufacturing industry.


BioPhorum Quality provides a dedicated, safe space for quality professionals from biomanufacturers and contract organizations to coalesce and enhance effective collaboration to address shared industry challenges.


Regulatory CMC brings leaders together who have a common goal – to improve access to medicines through innovation in the Regulatory ecosystem. It provides a dedicated space for strategic leadership and a coordinated industry voice, to move from divergence to convergence.

Supply Chain to Patient

Supply Chain to Patient transforms the performance of global pharmaceutical clinical and commercial outbound supply chains through industry collaboration by creating transparent patient-centric, resilient and agile E2E supply chains, that consistently deliver high-quality medicines ensuring an uninterrupted supply to patients.

Supply Resilience

Supply Resilience is a trusted advisory group and collaboration that is the engine for driving change across the global industry for all things relevant to the inbound supply chain. Addressing the challenges of complexity, resilience, cost, sustainability, and innovation.


Sustainability enables the industry’s transition to a low carbon, circular future – supporting members to improve patient health while respecting the planet. We activate multi-disciplinary teams drawn from our network to deliver environmental sustainability improvements across the value chain.

Technology Strategy

Technology Strategy acts as one voice of the industry to define strategy, accelerate technology transformation and support technology translation and adoption. With a purpose of enabling the future state of flexible, resilient, sustainable end-to-end biomanufacturing.

An industry perspective on understanding AAV capsid content variants
Needle On Yellow Background
An intercompany perspective on practical experiences of predicting, optimizing and analyzing high concentration biologic therapeutic formulations
The Drug Substance 2.0 Strategic Value Framework
Coloured dots on teal, next to vial
BioPhorum’s holistic approach to container closure integrity
Magnifying glass over a tablet all coloured blue
Digital Plant Maturity Model 3.0
Inaugural BioPhorum Quality face to face – get involved
The next step in building regulatory as a capability to enable strategic innovation across the BioPhorum community
A launchpad for an improved CGT outbound supply chain
DNA and Earth on blue background
A vision for the biopharmaceutical industry’s inbound supply chain
Building a resilient business means adopting water stewardship
Technology Roadmap V 2.0
BioPhorum Technology Roadmapping roadmap vision 2.0


Documents including best practices, vision statements and peer reviewed papers to help you take value back to your business.


Discussing all aspects of the biopharmaceutical industry, from digitization and knowledge management to raw materials, supply chain, sustainability and more. Learn from the perspectives of those at the forefront of the industry.


BioPhorum Connect is our podcast series that keeps you up to date with the latest news and trends in the biopharmaceutical industry. From experienced professionals to thought leaders, these podcasts bring you the insights and perspectives of experts from around the world.


A variety of resources including design tools and user requirement specifications to help you improve and streamline your business processes.

Benchmarks and Surveys

Research conducted among the BioPhorum membership providing evidence to support change and identify best practice.

Browse all

Access a variety of free tools and papers and other resources designed to provide you with up-to-date information and insights to help you make informed decisions and maximize your success. Access our resources today and start making improving and streamlining your business processes.

Bioreactivity testing in single-use system biomanufacturing
Bioreactivity testing in single-use system biomanufacturing
Bioreactivity testing in single-use system biomanufacturing
Magnifying glass over a tablet all coloured blue
Digital Plant Maturity Model 3.0
Bioreactivity testing in single-use system biomanufacturing