Good chemistry: Synthesizing quality control labs
How a pharma giant unlocked greater value and performance by standardizing and harmonizing processes globally.
A leading global biopharmaceutical company, with research and manufacturing divisions around the world, diagnosed its quality control labs with an all-too-common ailment: they were siloed, discordant and inefficient.
Quality control (QC) labs often work under processes and procedures created specifically by each of those sites. This limits pharma companies’ view of lab efficiency, extends the time to release a drug to market and creates a greater level of risk exposure. It was estimated that the labs, collectively, spent more than a hundred thousand hours of full-time, non-value-added work carrying out inefficient or manual processes.
To combat these issues, the company set on a course to harmonize and standardize its QC labs globally to support manufacturing, ensuring its products were both safe and effective in the most efficient way possible. The company also had to guard against a situation in which the labs, individually, became overly byzantine and expensive to staff and operate.
Accenture assembled a diverse set of its own technologists, pharma industry veterans and experts, former lab technicians and others familiar with the daily experience at QC labs. Together, they developed a set of best practices for QC labs, including detailed information on how they should handle specific operational functions.
The company’s QC staffers attended weeklong, in-person workshops, where they reviewed the best practices against their own processes. The team was then able to lay out an approach and strategy for bringing all the labs into alignment on a single, optimized global standard. This helped each lab examine how their own processes could be matured, automated and improved upon, as well as how to keep all the labs aligned.
After the workshops, participants reported back that they were energized with how their input was considered—and how they can work better across the company’s lab network.
In just three months’ time, the team laid out a pragmatic, easily digestible and agile plan for bringing all of the company’s QC sites into alignment with an enterprise digital QC lab operation.
From mid-2020 to early 2026, a team of Accenture experts from around the globe will work with the company to transition QC labs to a cloud-based Laboratory Information Management and Environmental-Monitoring system. Eventually, the entire QC ecosystem will operate on a GxP-compliant AWS platform, which will keep the labs in sync on processes that can be controlled and managed centrally, allowing for data-driven insights and planning.
The labs will not only increase efficiency and confidence in the ability to prove the efficacy and safety of drugs, the enterprise stands to build on its reputation as one of the most innovative drug companies as it drives time, cost and quality efficiencies through its QC labs.