Moving Past Specialized Portals to a True CRO Cloud

Consistently providing excellent client experiences is one of the hallmarks that separate the most innovative and value-focused contract research organizations (CRO) from the rest of the field. To achieve this, you may want to modernize and simplify the technologies that help you serve clients, empower research study and project managers, and run a productive business operation. Sikich can help you move ahead by integrating Salesforce and Sikich SuiteSuccess for CROs, which is based on NetSuite, into a cloud environment that is optimized for CROs.

In our recent blog post, we discussed CRO industry issues and client experience challenges. Today, we delve into portal proliferation and explore what a CRO-optimized cloud might look like.

Too many portals: a top-of-mind CRO technology challenge

Over the years, Sikich has worked with many life sciences companies and CROs to modernize their technologies and streamline their processes. Moving at lightning speed to stand up clinical trials and deliver clients the research results they need, CROs often deploy technology in a reactive manner, solving specific problems as quickly as they can. Over time, that may result in fragmented environments that can be hard to manage and navigate.

One characteristic technology use case to illustrate this point are the portals which many CROs create for various purposes. A CRO might offer multiple client-facing portals to share and manage proposals and quotes, project status updates, research findings, invoicing, educational and industry content, and more.

For internal use, the same organization may well have additional portals dedicated to sales and business development, laboratory postings, finance and business performance, vendor management, and procurement. Frequently, specialized portals support data collection in the field, training, or randomizing patients. Executives, project leaders, finance managers, and account team members will need to know and navigate several portals to manage their part of the business and to answer such questions as what the actual value of a certain account or group is for the company, or how project delivery overall compares to industry benchmarks.

For a CRO’s established clients, it can be time-consuming and inefficient to access several portals to find information and documents. However, if they otherwise appreciate the work of their CRO partner and the quality of the engagement, they may be patient, at least for the moment.

New clients and prospects may not be as indulgent. If a CRO makes it too difficult for them to obtain proposal documents, project updates, research results, and invoices, they may soon look for a CRO partner that delivers a different experience—more immediate, responsive, and efficient.

Three steps to a client-focused CRO cloud environment

Improving client retention and satisfaction can be achievable for CROs by taking several well-planned measures that Sikich can help make predictable, fast, and low-risk. We propose three basic steps:

  • One: Implement two of the industry’s leading cloud solutions for managing business operations, client relationships, and research study projects.
  • Two: Integrate both software tools to enable a free flow of information and processes to serve clients and deliver projects in an efficient, competitive manner.
  • Three: Provide clients and internal teams with a single, consolidated portal, where they can securely share documents and data based on the requirements of their roles and workflows.

Many CROs and life sciences companies already own one or all of the software systems we often deploy for them:

  • NetSuite is a comprehensive enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that enables CRO business processes, such as financial forecasting and planning, invoicing, revenue recognition, vendor management, and purchasing. We have optimized NetSuite for CROs and life sciences companies with a host of industry-specific, standardized capabilities in a solution called Sikich SuiteSuccess for CROs. It comes with advanced, web-based project management capabilities to ensure profitability and on-time delivery of
  • Salesforce enables responsive, collaborative customer relationship management (CRM) and also provides functionality for analytics, service management, marketing automation, app development, and more. Typically, CROs would manage the process from a raw lead, to a prospect, to an opportunity, and on to estimates, quotes, and proposals in Salesforce.
  • The Salesforce Experience Cloud can replace specialized CRO portals and serve as the data, communications, and content hub for CRO clients and teams. Data from NetSuite, NetSuite OpenAir, Salesforce, and other business systems can feed into the Experience Cloud in digestible, intelligence-ready formats that suit individual roles and their requirements. In the Experience Cloud, CROs can offer prospects and clients proposals and estimates, gather feedback, workshop adjustments, document approvals, and move on to project contracts. They can also give clients real-time visibility into the progress and outcomes of research studies and respond immediately to their requests and questions.

As cloud applications, NetSuite, Salesforce, and the Salesforce Experience Cloud are available anytime, anywhere, to anybody who needs to access their functions and data. From initial fact-finding and on to handing off a complete, integrated cloud CRO system, Sikich also deploys them through the cloud. For CROs that may already use any of the solutions, we implement what they still need to create the full cloud environment and will perform all integrations and data migrations.

Taking the next step

If you want to find out more or would like to pursue an integration of NetSuite and Salesforce:

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. In addition, this publication may contain certain content generated by an artificial intelligence (AI) language model. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.

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