The pharmaceutical industry embodies the spirit of innovation and creativity. Every day, companies work to find new ways to improve patient care, protect patient data and ensure strict adherence to all industry regulations and policies. The speed and decisiveness with which pharmaceutical companies can move is tied closely to the industry’s ability to foster a culture of effective cross-functional collaboration, where disparate parts of the organization come together to advance ambitious, long-term organizational goals. Building this collaborative environment requires a sustained investment of time and resources. Just 29% of early-stage companies report they’ve succeeded in fostering cross-functional collaboration, whereas 73% of digitally maturing companies have succeeded in this area, according to 2021 research by Deloitte and the MIT Sloan Management Review.
Cross-Functional Collaboration in the Pharmaceutical Industry
For pharmaceutical companies looking to promote enhanced cross-functional collaboration, there’s no better investment than digital transformation. Digital transformation alters how employees work, interact and collaborate. Instead of a siloed environment where collaboration happens despite—not because—of technology, teams gain access to powerful, consumer-grade tools that enable seamless interaction and engagement across the entire organization. Disparate teams—R&D, marketing, production, sales and DevOps—all come together on a common platform to freely share data, ideas and perspectives. It’s within this dynamic operating environment that pharmaceutical companies can work toward breakthroughs and outsized advances at maximum speed. Let’s explore five key ways digital transformation helps pharmaceutical companies foster enhanced cross-functional collaboration:
Digital Transformation Enables Seamless Data and Information Sharing
One of the biggest obstacles to effective collaboration in pharmaceutical companies is lack of access to data and information. Teams spend copious time searching for and retrieving information generated by researchers, clinicians and operational teams—both internal and external to the company. Furthermore, this data and information is often walled off and inaccessible, forcing even internal teams to request access and to build bridges of trust so they can be granted this access. Digital transformation solves all of these friction points by creating a single, unified interconnected business ecosystem. Through modern, cloud-based collaboration tools and well-designed data and information centers, pharmaceutical teams can readily share and interact with all of the information and resources they need to collaborate effectively. Meanwhile, the exceptional security features built into these operating environments ensure access can be appropriately restricted. Ultimately, when teams have the option to make information more accessible, they are more likely to expand access over time—and to forge trust and mutually productive relationships in the process.
Digital Transformation Brings Order and Structure to How Teams Do Work
In the average pharmaceutical company, employees constantly find themselves buried under an avalanche of emails and phone calls. Even when the company attempts to impose some structure using collaboration and messaging tools, these tools don’t manage the underlying work processes, interactions and collaborations required to get tasks done. As a result, mistakes get made, balls get dropped, and poor records and documentation are maintained for work performed. Digital transformation imposes order and structure on underlying, routine work processes, especially collaborative processes involving multiple teams. Teams begin by standardizing routine work processes into workflow automation systems, making conscious decisions about how work should be done and rearchitecting suboptimal processes to align with the ideal workflows. Then, using these standardized workflows, the system auto-triggers a cascade of events, notifications, and sequences to ensure the workflow is consistently followed every time. On the backend, the system takes care of recording what work was done, who did it and any other relevant details. For example, when employees request IT or HR services, these requests no longer need to originate as unstructured emails and phone calls; as soon as a request is received, the system takes care of logging the request and initiating a series of steps to get the task done. Until each step is completed by the various responsible teams, the step remains pending in the system, and follow-up notifications are issued until the step is completed.
Digital Transformation Rids the Workplace of Poorly Conceived, Siloed Workflows
Cross-functional collaboration is often stymied by entrenched ways and systems for getting work done—and by teams’ refusal to change. These legacy workflows and systems limit the organization’s ability to streamline, automate, and promote optimal interactions and collaborations. Because digital transformation requires organizations to rethink and rearchitect their workflows, individual teams simply cannot keep doing things the same way. Instead, teams must conform to the overarching, agreed-upon directions and vision of the organization as a whole. This sea change is critical to ridding the workplace of poorly conceived, siloed workflows. Initially, teams may be resistant to losing their autonomy, but ultimately tend to embrace the new, user-friendly tools and systems that accompany digital transformation. It’s up to every organization to underscore for employees that digital transformation is achieved only when teams are willing to give up their entrenched, siloed legacy workflows.
Digital Transformation Replaces Standalone, Custom-Built Systems and Apps
Pharmaceutical companies engage in a wide range of highly specialized and regulated work activities that are supported by a wide range of special systems, apps, and other tools. Because these technology solutions have evolved over time, they are often standalone, custom-built and siloed from the rest of the organization, which limits opportunities for other parts of the organization to benefit from or even be connected to these systems. When pharmaceutical companies embrace digital transformation, they replace all of these walled-off, non-integrated systems and apps with a single, unified business ecosystem. Teams rebuild their workflows, apps, and other tools in a single, using low- and no-code app builders. The interconnectivity of this new system—especially the enhanced visibility of data and workflows—creates more opportunities for cross-functional collaboration. Moreover, all of these individual apps and tools become much more manageable for the organization to collaboratively expand and enhance over time, as they are all designed with the same underlying code and architecture.
Digital Transformation Promotes Continuous Process Improvement
Cross-functional collaboration works best when teams have access to the most user-friendly, forward-thinking workflows and tools at all times. When pharmaceutical companies invest in digital transformation, they’re also investing in continuous process improvement for all workflows and tools. Indeed, digital transformation demands that organizations never rest on their laurels or stagnate in their commitment to continuous change and innovation. Moreover, when the entire organization prioritizes continuous process improvement, it creates a positive cycle of reinforcement, where teams have the opportunity to work together on improvements and updates that are themselves strategic points of collaboration.
Every pharmaceutical company can and should take advantage of digital transformation to break down organizational silos that are impeding effective cross-functional collaboration. Through digital transformation, pharmaceutical companies gain the ability to readily share information and data with both internal and external teams, to create order and structure to how work gets done, to eliminate poorly conceived legacy workflows, to replace their custom-built systems and apps with fully reconnected ones, and to promote continuous process improvement that paves the way for long-term cross-functional collaboration.
Talk to Crossfuze
Crossfuze understands how to help pharmaceutical companies effectively utilize digital transformation to expand and enhance opportunities for routine cross-functional collaboration. To learn more about how we use the ServiceNow platform to dramatically improve pharmaceutical teams’ ability to collaborate, please reach out to Crossfuze today. We can’t wait to help you build an optimally collaborative environment that will help you reach your ambitious, long-term goals with agility and speed.