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Finding the right Bio-IT partner to navigate the complex landscape that is science-IT is no easy task. With a multitude of factors to consider (such as expertise, outcomes, scalability, data security, and adherence to industry regulations), evaluating potential partners can be an overwhelming process. That’s where a Bio-IT scorecard approach comes in handy.
By using a structured evaluation approach, organizations can focus on what truly matters—aligning their organizational requirements with the capabilities and expertise of potential Bio-IT partners. Not the other way around. Here’s how using a scorecard can help streamline decision-making and ensure successful collaborations.
1. Bio-IT Requirements Match
Every Biopharma is on a mission, whether it’s to develop and deliver new, life-changing therapeutics, or advance science to drive innovation and change. While they share multiple common needs, such as the ability to process large and complex datasets, the way in which each organization uses IT and technology can vary.
Biopharma companies must assess how well their current or potential Bio-IT partner’s services align with the organization’s unique computing needs, such as data analysis, HPC, cloud migration, or specialized software support. And that’s where a Bio-IT scorecard can be helpful. For example, a company with multiple locations must enable easy, streamlined data sharing between facilities while ensuring security and authorized-only access. A single location may also benefit from user-based privileges, but their needs and processes will vary since users are under the same roof.
Organizations must also evaluate the partner’s proficiency in addressing specific Bio-IT challenges relevant to their operations by asking questions such as:
- Can they provide examples of successfully tackling similar challenges in the past, showcasing their domain knowledge?
- Can they demonstrate proficiency in utilizing relevant technologies, such as high-performance computing, cloud infrastructure, and data security?
- How do they approach complex Bio-IT challenges?
- Can they share any real-world examples of solving challenges related to data integration, interpretation, or regulatory compliance?
Questions like these on your own Bio-IT scorecard can help your organization better understand a potential partner’s proficiency in areas specific to your needs and objectives. And this ultimately helps your team understand if the partner is capable of helping prepare your firm scale by reducing bottlenecks and clearing a path to discovery.
2. Technical Proficiency and Industry Experience
Organizations can rate their shortlist partners on relevant technologies, platforms, and scientific computing to learn more about technical proficiency. It’s equally important to apply proficiency to the unique needs of Biopharmas.
According to a industry survey, respondents agree that IT and digital innovation are needed to solve fundamental challenges that span the entire spectrum of operations, including “dedicated funding (59%), a better digital innovation strategy (49%), and the right talent (47%) to scale digital innovation.” It’s essential that IT partners can connect solutions to these and other business needs to ensure organizations are poised for growth.
It’s also critical to verify the partner’s track record of delivering Bio-IT services to organizations within the Life Sciences industry specifically. And the associated outcomes they’ve achieved for similar organizations. To do this, organizations can obtain references and ask specific questions about technical expertise, such as:
- Whether the company proposed solutions that met core business needs
- Whether the IT technology provided a thorough solution
- Whether the solutions were implemented on time and on budget
- How the company continues to support the IT aspect
Successful IT partners are those who can speak from a place of authority in both science and IT. This means being able to understand the technical aspect as well as applying that technology to the nuances of companies conducting pre-clinical and clinical R&D. While IT companies are highly skilled in the former, very few are specialized enough to also embrace the latter. It’s essential to work with a specialized partner that understands this niche segment – the Life Sciences industry. And creating a Bio-IT scorecard based on your unique needs can help you do that.
3. Research Objectives Alignment
IT companies make it their goal to provide optimal solutions to their clients. However, they must also absorb their clients’ goals as their own to ensure they’re creating and delivering the technology needed to drive breakthroughs and accelerate discovery and time-to-value.
Assess how well the partner’s capabilities and services align with your specific research objectives and requirements by asking:
- Do they have expertise in supporting projects related to your specific research area, such as genomics, drug discovery, or clinical trials?
- Can they demonstrate experience in the specific therapeutic areas or biological processes relevant to our research objectives?
- What IT infrastructure and tools do they have in place to support our data-intensive research?
The more experience in servicing research areas that are similar to yours, the less guesswork involved and the faster they can implement optimal solutions.
4. Scalability and Flexibility
In the rapidly evolving field of Life Sciences, data generation rates are skyrocketing, making scalability and extensibility vital for future growth. Each project may require unique analysis pipelines, tools, and integrations with external software or databases. A Bio-IT partner should be able to customize its solutions based on individual requirements and handle ever-increasing volumes of data efficiently without compromising performance. To help uncover their ability to do that, your team might consider:
- Ask about their approach to adapting to changing requirements, technologies, and business needs. Inquire about their willingness to customize solutions to fit your specific workflows and processes.
- Request recent and similar examples of projects where the Bio-IT partner has successfully implemented scalable solutions.
By choosing a Bio-IT partner that prioritizes flexibility and scalability, organizations can future-proof their research infrastructure from inception. They can easily scale up resources as their data grows exponentially while also adapting to changing scientific objectives seamlessly. This agility allows scientists to focus more on cutting-edge research rather than getting bogged down in technical bottlenecks or outdated systems. The potential for groundbreaking discoveries in healthcare and biotechnology becomes even more attainable.
5. Data Security and Regulatory Compliance
In an industry governed by strict regulations such as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), partnering with a Bio-IT company that is fully compliant with these regulations is essential. Compliance ensures that patient privacy rights are respected, data is handled ethically, and legal implications are avoided.
As part of your due diligence, you should consider the following as it relates to a potential partner’s approach to data security and regulatory compliance:
- Verify their data security measures, encryption protocols, and adherence to industry regulations (e.g., HIPAA, GDPR, 21 CFR Part 11) applicable to the organization’s Bio-IT data.
- Ensure they have undergone relevant audits or certifications to demonstrate compliance.
- Ask about how they stay up-to-date on compliance and regulatory changes and how they communicate their ongoing certifications and adherence to their clients.
6. Collaboration and Communication
A strong partnership relies on open lines of communication, where both parties can share and leverage their subject matter expertise in order to work towards a common goal. Look for partners who have experience working with diverse and cross-functional teams, and have successfully integrated technology into various workflows.
Evaluate the partner’s communication channels, responsiveness, and willingness to collaborate effectively with the organization’s IT team and other important stakeholders. Consider their approach to project management, reporting, and transparent communication, and how it aligns with your internal processes and preferences.
The value of developing and using a Bio-IT scorecard to ensure a strong alignment between the organization’s Bio-IT needs and the right vendor fit cannot be overstated. Using a scorecard model gives you a holistic, systematic, objective way to evaluate potential or current partners to ensure your needs are being met—and expectations hopefully exceeded.
Biotechs and Pharmas can benefit greatly from specialized Bio-IT partners like RCH Solutions. With more than 30 years of exclusive focus servicing the Life Sciences industry, organizations can gain optimal IT solutions that align with business objectives and position outcomes for today’s needs and tomorrow’s challenges. Learn more about what RCH Solutions offers and how we can transform your Bio-IT environment.