How a Strategic Data Assessment Brought Value to a Clinical Trials Portfolio Company

A private equity backed early-stage clinical trials contract research organization (CRO) sought to solve an organization-wide technology problem of data integration and called on Resultant to help clarify and streamline the technology selection process. While considering solutions, including one recommended by a technology vendor, we found that a technology-first path would only complicate operations—at a hefty price tag—without solving their real issues.

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A private equity backed early-stage clinical trials contract research organization (CRO) sought to solve an organization-wide technology problem of data integration and called on Resultant to help clarify and streamline the technology selection process. While considering solutions, including one recommended by a technology vendor, we found that a technology-first path would only complicate operations—at a hefty price tag—without solving their real issues.

Though the company’s current state demonstrated growth and profitability, they knew that better data integration was key to ensuring technology supports future growth and objectives.

Why a Technology-Only Solution Would Fall Short

Before they embarked on a pricy technology implementation, we performed a Strategic Data Assessment (SDA) to accurately define the problem they were trying to solve and illuminate any underlying needs. Our approach anchors on creating business value and managing both internal and external risk through people, process, and technology improvements. The SDA was an essential part of this process as it provided us with a complete picture of the organization.

We soon discovered that a technology solution targeted at data integration would be incomplete and premature. Broader operational, business process, and governance issues hampered their ability to strategically implement a cohesive integration technology. In addition, by only focusing on integration, there were missed opportunities to use data to add value in both their short-term and long-term business objectives. These issues needed to be addressed first to set their organization up for long-term success.

About the Client

This client is a private equity–backed early-stage clinical trials contract research organization with a mission to become the global leader in early clinical research. With multiple lines of business including medical expertise and clinical trials, they help organizations bring life-changing drugs to market and improve the health and lives of people around the world.

The Outcomes

  • Cultural shift toward data-driven decision making
  • Foundation for future growth
  • Empowerment and knowledge transfer
  • Strategic alignment and enhanced decision-making
  • Operational efficiency and process improvement
  • Risk mitigation and long-term value creation

Begin Solutions by Listening to the People Who Use Them

We began our SDA engagement with a discovery phase aimed at understanding not just the technology bottlenecks the CRO experienced, but the broader context of their business operations, strategic goals, and challenges.

We partnered with their business process team (BPT) and global IT teams to conduct interviews and surveys with 50 stakeholders across the organization. Organizational groups engaged include:

  • All four revenue-generating lines of business (LOB)
  • Human Resources
  • Technology
  • Finance
  • Quality assurance
  • Business Development

These conversations gave us a comprehensive view of how different parts of the organization were using data, outlined business processes already in place, and identified operational inefficiencies.

Assessing with Core Business Values in Mind

The SDA gave the organization a clear perspective of where they stand now and identified strengths, gaps, and opportunities for improvement. It specified what situations or challenges should be addressed and provided a future state roadmap including prioritization and operational and technical recommendations.

We aligned recommendations with the CRO’s core business values, ensuring that solutions fix immediate problems while also achieving long-term strategic objectives. Each phase of the roadmap was scored on a set of core business value objectives informed by the discovery phase:

  • EBITDA improvements
  • Operational efficiency gains
  • Employee experience
  • Risk mitigation
  • Acquisition integration strategy
  • Sell-side valuation

At minimum, each recommended objective impacted at least one of the above values.

Some key themes emerged in the SDA. First, the relatively new BPT has positively impacted the organization by bringing LOBs together to streamline processes, create consistency, and increase collaboration.

Next, we discovered the business is data-rich but insights-poor. Team members learned where to access data, how to use it, and how it should not be used through tribal knowledge rather than documented processes resulting in resource dependencies and operational inefficiencies.

Headwinds: A Nice Problem to Have—but Still a Problem

This tribal knowledge was one of a set of headwinds that our discovery phase revealed. Headwinds are issues that currently slow potential progress but could significantly blow the CRO off course over time if not corrected.

  • The CRO had no technical foundation for data and governance, hindering data management and impeding business growth.
  • A long-tenured workforce had significant tribal knowledge and little process documentation, creating business continuity and quality risk.
  • While helpful as a workaround for data-centric processes, the CRO’s non-governed web-based spreadsheet usage opens them to compliance issues likely to grow with changing regulations.

We delivered a strategic roadmap outlining recommendations to address these headwinds for operational process improvement, advanced analytics usage, and technology enablement. Phase I recommendations included:

  • Conduct foundational process mapping documentation of core business processes.
  • Establish an enterprise data platform.
  • Implement a data catalog to store the golden record and process mapping work and increase data discovery.
  • Create a centralized repository of core business data via a cloud solution, hub and spoke integration, and an underlying enterprise data warehouse.
  • Identified an artificial intelligence (AI) use case leveraging GenAI to support RFP creation as a quick-win initiative.

How SDA Outcomes Empower the Organization

Our goal was to go beyond addressing the identified issues and equip the organization with strategies and insights needed to maintain and build upon this work independently. Our partnership was structured to empower the CRO, providing them the knowledge and tools to further their data and technology advancement path, thereby ensuring these lasting benefits and capability building:

  • Cultural shift toward data-driven decision making. By involving stakeholders from across the organization and focusing on strategic outcomes, we helped foster an environment where data-driven decision-making should be a core component of the company's ethos. This cultural shift is crucial for sustaining the long-term benefits of the SDA and ensuring continuous improvement in data utilization.
  • Foundation for future growth. By addressing current challenges and setting a clear direction for leveraging data and technology, the CRO is better positioned to adapt to changing market conditions, pursue new opportunities, and drive innovation.
  • Empowerment and knowledge transfer. We worked closely with the CRO to ensure they not only understood the recommendations but also felt equipped to implement them, giving their teams the capabilities and confidence to continue this path to improvement independently.

The recommendations provided, from documenting our core business processes to implementing a sophisticated enterprise data platform, have laid the foundation for a more integrated and intelligent data-driven strategy.

CRO Vice President ,   Global Information Technology

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