Serving up healthy ideas:
Stylus Systems assisted a multinational pharmaceutical company in providing
better service by helping them track their retailer Institutional buyer
network on the web. We defined the most appropriate approach for optimizing
their sell-side supply chain functions across divisions varied customer
groups (Regional, Trusts and hospitals) and geographies. This ensured
that all these customers players in their supply chain reduced costs and
eliminated inefficiencies in their systems. In addition, the solution
provided a way for AstraZeneca to increase customer satisfaction and sales
by providing these customers up to date information on their status of
their purchases from their supplier , as well as provided a forum for
feedback on supply related issues to the company.
Faster access to information online, especially information that swells
from microscopic packets into mammoth proportions in a few seconds is
one of the most significant reasons for any organization wanting to collaborate
on the web today. Any customer needs first hand information in order to
make the right decisions at the right time.
Transporting all the required data to the web is not a simple case of
just moving all the data online. Information can be of varying degrees
of complexity and can involve large databases and complex applications.
Also, customers want to interact with data on the web in real-time. Keeping
these features in mind, we worked on providing Astra Zeneca with a meaningful
web presence and this case study tells you that story.
The UK marketing organization of AstraZeneca, a multinational pharmaceutical
company sells medicines to the hospital sector through a variety of pharmaceutical
wholesalers. The company enters into direct agreements with hospitals
or consortia of hospitals and trusts in a region to agree to use a certain
volume of products over a 12-month period in return for an agreed percentage
discount. The wholesalers are then notified by the company about the correct
discount to charge the hospital for the medicine that is then delivered
as per demand from that hospital over the period of the agreement.
These agreements can be made at various levels or hierarchies
at the individual hospital level, or at the trust level that centrally
manages hospitals, consortium level that manages a group of trusts and
finally at the regional level comprising all hospitals in a certain region.
Paper-based agreements of such a magnitude are difficult to manage. What
adds to the complexity is that all these agreements are made at different
prices. Thus a typical hospital would be able to purchase the same drug
from Astra Zeneca at different prices, depending on which agreement they
were referring to. In addition to the inefficiencies it brought into the
purchasing process, it also made useless, any analysis of sales data for
strategy formulation. It was often difficult to analyse the data on the
of the purchase of a particular drug to a particular hospital, since purchases
were logged in under many different agreements. Until now an intermediary
organization, NDC Health made such information available to wholesalers
from the individual hospital purchasing points. This raw data is linked
to the relevant hospital or Trust and stored in a data warehouse. Multiple
contact points made it difficult to integrate multiple transactions and
present a single point of contact to the customer. The end result was
a confused customer and confused marketing team.
In addition to this, there were other issues that the sales force needed
to address. Often proper information regarding new drug releases and availability
of existing drugs was not going to the customers accurately, or sufficiently
early. Could the supply chain solution that Stylus help meet the need
to keep the customers informed on the latest changes in the product line,
while also providing, in alow cost manner, a way to get customer feedback
on these changes?
A pharmaceutical company needs to collect data from millions of people
and use this information effectively to produce better and more affordable
drugs. Building an electronic infrastructure that will enable this company
to compile all this data is a major challenge because of the variety of
sources, formats and complexity of the information that pharmaceutical
companies must handle.
ROI Return on Information
Based on the study of the requirements, Astra Zeneca IT specialists and
Stylus designers, came up with an on-line account management system for
hospitals on a password-protected website. This extranet would provide
a way to allow purchasers to view account information at Regional, Consortium,
Trust and Hospital Levels depending on the level of the agreement held
with Astra Zeneca. This kind of a service would make entering into an
agreement with Astra Zeneca more attractive and elevate them as an organization,
in addition to providing the company with a competitive advantage and
thus drive sales. A portal technology that aggregated customer touch-points
and inaugurated a value chain that had an immediate effect on customer
retention and ROI. (say, what?)
Expected benefits: Streamlining and integrating the supply chain
- A service that opened up a rapid channel of communication to a key
customer group whereby purchasers could be alerted to special offers,
short-line stock, product changes, etc
- A place to post company information such as legal documentation, background
product information and technical specifications.
- Agreement tracking at different hierarchies Customized access
to users from different levels.
- Help users query about supply issues, clinical and medical issues.
Solution: A supply chain initiative under a single umbrella
The data collected by the Health Care Organization NDC is collected in
the data warehouse and stored there. This data was extracted and transferred
on to the extranet for use by their entire retailer network. Our technical
team at Stylus developed this solution for them by extracting the information
from their data warehouse and then exporting it to the web in a secure
In effect, what Stylus did was to help combine their services and their
retailer network using the power of the Internet to aggregate and share
data. Such a wealth of information available online allows for dynamic
user interaction. Participants in the supply chain could then work more
effectively towards improving their key services.
The site displays 3 levels of agreement information. Information that
each user sees is personalized, depending on the role he plays within
the network. Level 1 provides an overview of each agreement; its status
and whether all products covered under the agreement are performing on
target. Drilling down from Level 1 to Level 2 provides a product list
relating to the agreement and details like the brand name, pack size,
target volumes and performance percentages etc. Level 3 allows the user
to view the historical data about the agreement and also identify a sub-account
and its performance in relation to the commitment made at the beginning
of the agreement period.
Access to data in real time: From paper to the Web
What the new extranet has on offer:
- Provides customized information and site access privileges to each
- Allows users to store and share documents online. Account details
can be viewed and edited on-line.
- Eliminates repetitive data entry thus leading to increased efficiency
- Access to sub-accounts based on the hierarchy of the user. Users can
initially see purchase data for the selected product at the Regional
Level and at this stage the user can expand the information to reveal
purchase data from each sub-account. (This would allow the user to identify
whether the sub-account is performing well in relation to the commitment
made to the Regional Purchaser at the beginning of the agreement period.)
- Product status data and technical specifications.
- Alerts on supply, clinical and medical issues.
- Facility to post queries on supply and medical issues online.
In short, web enabling their database helped them build a comprehensive
resource and support site that enabled a real-time tracking of all their
supplier and distributor networks that form a part of their global infrastructure.
In short , Stylus helped deploy a cost-saving and revenue enhancement
strategy that effectively integrated AstraZenecas institutional
buyer network and made all their transactions transparent, thus saving
millions and simultaneously improving customer service and reducing inventories.
Technology: ASP, SQL and XML and Microsoft Excel
Gazing through the crystal ball
Collaborative planning, forecasting and replenishment involves more than
just throwing data over the fence between hospitals or trusts
and the company. Getting data visibility in real time meant tracking transactions
and agreements online, but also using this data to forecast demand. Which
in turn would help shape demand and aid them in coming up with the best
price that the user wants. Collaborative planning helped reduce order
cycle times from months to weeks.
The Alerts system permits all parties to post and review changes but
also detects alarming situations when the supplier and the retailer may
be targeting different dates or similar situations that can generate proactive
Achieving operational excellence through strategy is the key to exemplary
customer service. What customers need today is speed, elimination of errors
and the freedom to interact whenever convenient to them.
Customer-centricity is the key business imperative driving the move to
web-enabled data access today. More superior information about customers
can be learned because of their interaction online. This process of gleaning
more and more information about customers can create a spiral effect that
will enhance the core competency of an organization and also
provide the best competitive advantage to an organization.