Monday, May 13, 2013

Pharma Industry: Anyone Experience Deja Vu when attending serialization conferences?

I have to first admit that I have not been in the serialization world nearly as long as some veterans of the industry...but it didn't take me long to realize that 95% of every serialization-related conference over the past 5+ years might as well be scripted....I've attended conference after conference, listening to the same 'user experiences' and hearing panel after panel tout the importance of getting executive stakeholders involved (is that ever not important?).  I will stop well-short of saying the conferences are not valuable - the opportunity to gather with industry peers and exchange ideas will always be a worthwhile activity....  But for someone who's perspective in this space has always been down at a detailed level the typical conference discussions are lacking.. even frustrating at times.

What sparked this topic for me was an article reviewing a recent conference (

DISCLAIMER:  My comments from this point forward are in no way critical of this article, the publication, or the conference it covered.  Rather this article, in my mind, highlights some of the misconceptions (and misunderstandings) still so prevalent in the industry.

#1 "On the heels of a Healthcare Packaging survey of more than 1,000 stakeholders that reveals one half of the respondents have not started a serialization project yet"
This comment is one more from curiosity as I am not familiar with the survey referenced in the quote.  My knee-jerk reaction was to be skeptical of the statement that half of respondents have not started a serialization project yet.  But as I thought about it more its only because we don't know the context of that statistic -

  • Is it half of Manufacturers?  (I'd actually find that hard to believe - but selfishly also hope it is true because I will be an even busier man than for the next year and half!!)  
  • Is it half of all supply chain participants?  (more believable).  
  • What constitutes a 'serialization project'?  strategy, pilot, implementation?   

I will continue to search for the raw results of the survey to get this context.

#2 "One speaker talked about the challenge of getting top management to agree that serialization is a regulatory necessity, not promising any ROI in the near future. "Meet with your C-level Suite executive individually and then collectively as a team to make sure all buy in.""
It cannot be denied that the majority of pharma, despite what's stated in project charters and strategic planning sessions, is being driven far and away by compliance- not by a desire to improve product security, or process efficiency, or supply chain visibility.  It's unfortunate, however, if this quote (in my interpretation) effectively says to give up hope of making a positive ROI anytime soon.  (See earlier posts about how other industries take on serialization and traceability with full expectations of achieving positive ROI)

#3 "While the vast majority of pharmaceutical companies use SAP, they need a bridge from another supplier to do e-pedigree. But one attendee said SAP is meeting to discuss what kind of module would be necessary to accomplish this. "Hey, if we are on SAP and our trading partner is on SAP, can’t you make it advantageous for both of us?"
I'm focusing mainly on the last sentence here - "Hey, if we are on SAP and our trading partner is on SAP, can’t you make it advantageous for both of us?".   For a technical guy like myself, and someone who advocates the use of standards, this just breaks my heart...  how often do we see the term 'interoperable' littered throughout pedigree and proposed federal legislation?  The whole purpose of EPCIS and DPMS is to ensure that any two systems, large or small, can communicate with each other.  This isn't a knock on SAP, it's a knock on the lack of understanding the underlying technical details of how serialization and traceability data, regardless of format, is traded between supply chain partners.

How interesting would it be to have a conference attended by the Solution Architects, DBAs, and Developers that have been deep in this space for so many years? Or better yet do we need to start sprinkling in sessions for these resource groups at the existing conferences?  I think it would be an eye opening experience...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts