How to bridge the data integration gap between sponsors and contract organizations

1 December 2022
Information Technology

Biopharmaceutical supply chains and manufacturing networks have become increasingly complex, often involving multi-enterprise collaborations and partnerships to supply lifesaving medicines to patients.

Initial projects to improve digital collaboration often deployed bespoke point-to-point solutions between sponsor and contract organizations. However, without standardization, data, and data structures differ between sources, vary over time, and are difficult to use for the advanced needs of our industry.

We see CDMOs as strategic partners to deliver our future commitments. For those partnerships to work, our ambition is to have the same transparency externally as we do with our internal production. However, that can only exist if as an industry we move to common approaches and data sharing models.
Marcos Lopez, Digital Transformation Lead, Novo Nordisk

This evolution beyond the single-source manufacturing model is driving an industry need for standardized approaches to data integration between organizations to support agile and predictive supply chains. But how do we achieve this? How do we bridge the gap?

Answering this question has led us to publish a Vision for digital maturity in the integration between biomanufacturers and partner organizations.

How to digitally collaborate

It explains the current state of integration models and the challenges faced by the industry – and contains our view on digital collaboration between sponsor and contract organizations.

We use the analogy the common integration between sponsors and contract organizations is like building a bridge – in the ideal world there is common traffic that goes both ways, they support many types of transfer, traffic can go fast or slow, they will fail if poorly designed, etc.

Our recommendations focus on four key areas where accurate and timely data exchange is fundamental to success for sponsor and contract organizations: quality, supply chain, manufacturing, and tech transfer. If you can improve your digital integration in these areas, it will support closer ways of working within your partnerships.

We include a simple maturity model that gives a high-level overview of increasingly sophisticated patterns of data and information exchange between organizations. This will help you perform a self-assessment and appropriate targeting of your future projects.

We also highlight the need for layers of alignment in contract relationships and identify the process touchpoints and data needs that are the foundations for digital integration designs.
The key next step for the industry is to align around the data structures within the communication messages.


Using our paper in your digital integration discussions will bring you a host of benefits, such as

  • It gives you clarity on the nature of the problem, a common language, and realistic, tangible, and aligned future possibilities
  • It will help you articulate the benefits that will drive change from the perspective of each type of stakeholder
  • You will have a clearer view of the scope and priority of business processes that are candidates for digital integration between organizations.
With digital integration of CDMOs and sponsors, we can potentially get new products to market faster, release products faster, and reduce costs to deliver important therapeutics to patients when they need them.
Michalle Adkins​ Director, Life Sciences Strategy, Emerson

We think this paper is essential reading for business leaders in biomanufacturers and contract organizations, as well as digital leaders, integration solution providers, and IT solution providers providing operational and analytics systems.

Our industry must transform paper into data, records into actionable insights, and contracts into partnerships. The challenge is now laid down for everyone to work together to make this vision a reality.

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