The relationship between suppliers and manufacturers is one of the most crucial in biopharmaceutical manufacturing. This is especially the case when forecasting and supply planning.
Which is why the Forecasting and Demand Planning workstream has developed a set of tools to facilitate supplier-customer discussions on matters such as lead times, trust, openness and inventory management, helping both parties find mutually beneficial solutions and build great commercial biological drug supply chains.
Solutions to common challenges defined
Through many telecoms and face-to-face meetings the workstream team has identified the key factors that derail suppliers and biomanufacturers. In total, 11 drivers were identified which became the team’s targets for corrective best practices. The resulting best practices fall into three categories: relationship management, business processes, and performance management. These were then deployed against the main problems found in the current ways of working in the industry: disparate priorities, inadequate levels of trust and risk sharing, unaligned performance management, limited end-to-end visibility, inaccurate master data and lethargy.
The workstream also created a maturity assessment that helps you prioritize the areas most in need of improvement, based on the state of a company’s forecasting and demand planning processes judged against industry best practices.
“The Best Practice Guide is something that will serve as a baseline in the industry for forecasting and demand planning,” says Cheryl Simmons, Senior Manager Strategic Sourcing at Astra Zeneca. “It will help a supplier or drug manufacturer recognize what is considered best practice in areas such as supplier relationship management or performance management. It will allow them to see what their current status is and what their future status should look like.”
One of the big successes of the team’s work has been bringing so many suppliers and manufacturers together in a constructive way in one place to solve common challenges. The legacy of which is a best practice guide and a maturity assessment that give suppliers and manufacturers a set of tools and a framework for open discussions. The team’s hope is that this will deliver results and foster and solidify these all-important relationships now and well into the future. This framework covers everything from regulatory challenges and inventory to lead times and time to access markets – and most importantly how to improve these areas of business.
Two of the workstream members, Elizabeth Knox of BASF and Gail Berch of Sartorius Stedim, presented their journey and the best practice guide to more than 200 people at an Institute of Business Forecasting conference in September 2018, where it was well received and gained a lot of interest.
The current plans are to transition the workstream to a community of practice and continue its value-added work and the team plans to understand and leverage how members are implementing best practice.
They will also continue to promote the maturity assessment and analyze collected data in order to gain insights to industry strengths and weaknesses.
Looking further ahead, the maturity assessment has highlighted areas of practice where survey responses scored low and therefore represent areas of growth potential, such as master data management and risk sharing. These, and other areas, will be the focus of future workstreams. The Supply Agility and New Product Introduction workstream will maintain the focus on profile on these areas within the product lifecycle.