Life Science Leader Magazine Supplements

CRO Leadership Awards 2017

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tion of sponsors whose expectations are being met in three areas, including high priorities such as reducing contracting and improving the quality of deliverables. However, the survey also found a double-digit decline in satisfaction with access to high-quality personnel. The 2016 survey also found continued dissatisfaction with the ability of strategic partnerships to meet spon- sors' top priority: cost savings. In 2016, 45 percent of sponsors said their expectations in this area were being met or exceeded, compared with 48 percent in 2011. Poor performance in this one area mars a dataset that otherwise suggests the disconnect in sponsor and pro- vider perceptions has narrowed, and satisfaction with the outsourcing model overall is on the rise. THE HEALTH OF CLINICAL OUTSOURCING TODAY The increase in the proportion of strategic partner- ships that are meeting sponsor and provider expecta- tions is part of a broader trend that suggests the health of clinical outsourcing in general, and close alliances in particular, is improving. While disconnects persist, the gap is narrowing, and the survey suggests strategic partnerships are contributing to these improvements. The disconnect between sponsor and provider sat- isfaction with relationships is narrower among com- panies in strategic partnerships than for outsourcing in general. There is reason to believe this finding will persist. Notably, the longer a sponsor is in a strategic partnership, the more likely it is to be satisfied with the relationship, the work delivered, and value for money. Only satisfaction with quality delivered remains flat over time. Buoyed by their experiences, more than half of spon- sors plan to make more use of strategic partnerships over the next five years. Sponsors that are satisfied with their current relationships and the quality they deliver are most likely to plan to make greater use of partnerships. Most providers also anticipate greater use of the model. The survey data suggests these new and existing partnerships will face persistent problems, such as an inability to meet sponsor expectations of cost savings and the failure for quality to improve over time. Yet overall the trends identified from 2011 to 2016 show strategic partnering is in better health today. L tegic partnerships. Approximately half of respondents to the 2016 survey listed reduced costs as a primary objective for strategic partnerships, making it the most commonly sought goal from such relationships. The 2011 survey had the same finding. Sponsors also have retained an interest in improving internal staff efficiency, but their motivations in other areas have changed. In 2016, fewer sponsors listed less tangible benefits, such as accessing operational exper- tise and improving quality, as priorities. Provider motivations have changed, too. In 2016, nearly half of respondents listed meeting the needs of current customers as a primary goal of strategic partnerships. This marks a 41 percent increase over 2011. That goal has replaced increased profits near the top of the list of priorities. Approximately one-fifth of providers listed improved profitability as a priority in 2016, down from 36 percent in 2011. While some prior- ities have changed in some areas, for most providers, increased business stability remains the most import- ant priority of strategic partnerships. WHAT COMPANIES GET FROM PARTNERSHIPS At least 84 percent of respondents said partnerships met or exceeded their expectations for four of their top five objectives, including the key goals of meeting cus- tomer needs and increasing business stability. The out- lier is increased profitability. More than one-quarter of providers said partnerships were failing to meet expec- tations in this area, despite a double-digit percentage increase in levels of satisfaction over 2011. Only one- third of providers said profitability expectations were met in the first year of relationships, reflecting the up-front investments in staffing and other adjustments CROs have to make to gear up for partnerships. While many providers are having to wait a year or more to achieve their goals, more and more of them are doing so in the end. The proportion of providers whose expectations are being met rose by 10 percentage points or more in five areas between 2011 and 2016. The areas include primary objectives such as improved quality. Sponsors are also increasingly satisfied with the per- formance of their partnerships, although on the whole they remain less content than providers. The 2016 poll found double-digit percentage increases in the propor- LAKSHMI SUNDAR is VP of strategy and development at The Avoca Group. A little more than one-third of clinical outsourcing spend goes to strategic partners. LIFESCIENCELEADER.COM THE CRO LEADERSHIP AWARDS 2017 21

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