Transforming Procurement and Vendor Management in Life Sciences Companies

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What if you could gain greater visibility and control of contract and project finances, with more management flexibility, by using standardized, cloud-based technology purpose-built for life sciences businesses? You could accomplish this with Sikich SuiteSuccess for Life Sciences, built upon NetSuite. The solution includes a capability called Vendor Study Management. Taking advantage of this, companies save as much as 60 hours per month, avoid investing in the purchase and management of the extensive customizations other software products would require, and don’t need a full-time administrator to manage the technology.

Current Life Sciences Procurement Challenges

Many successful, growing life sciences companies reach a stage where the scope of their efforts expands. Earlier, purchases of lab supplies might have accounted for most of the transactions managed by the procurement department. Now, procurement managers engage with contract research organizations (CRO) and service providers at an unprecedented scale. They not only significantly more contracts, but the purchase orders associated with individual contracts and projects may be much larger than they used to, reaching into the multi-million dollar range.

At that point, the procurement managers in life sciences companies may well be challenged to maintain accurate, transparent budgeting and spending forecasts. If forecasts become outdated because projects or vendor relationships change, they need to be updated with accurate numbers. Conversations and commitments with CROs and other vendors and planning and decisions within the company need to be based on reliable figures and projections.

Often, standard practices for tracking actual against projected spending and budget management involve spreadsheets and manual steps. Procurement and finance managers spend many hours recording amounts, keeping decision-makers informed, and obtaining approvals for updated forecasts and budgets. With optimal diligence, errors and omissions can still happen.

However, you can save that time and avoid those inefficiencies. Modern technology tailored for life-sciences needs can help you make procurement and vendor management more productive and transparent.

life sciences vendor management study

Vendor Study Management 101: current, centralized, complete

Sikich, a NetSuite 5 Star Award winner, has optimized NetSuite for life sciences companies with a host of capabilities that can help make finance and operational management more efficient and manageable. For many companies, we implement Sikich SuiteSuccess for Life Sciences within 120 and, sometimes, as quickly as within 45 days. Our clients typically run most core capabilities as soon as 30 days after the start of the deployment.

SuiteSuccess comes with Vendor Study Management, making it much easier to track and manage your spending on vendor POs and contracts. At a high level, Vendor Study Management works like this:

  • You can view and manage projects in one central location, with all project information in a single record.
  • Project description fields can be set up and customized as makes sense for your business. You can use classifications for prepaid accounts, accrual accounts, expense accounts, expense accounts, departments, and programs.
  • Once you record the expected spending for each month during the life of a project or contract, NetSuite automatically calculates posted invoices against these forecasts.
  • The solution determines the differences between planned and actual spending, which means projects can assume a prepaid or an accrual position.
  • NetSuite automatically books a prepayment or accrual journey entry and provides a list of such journal entries.
  • The solution connects journal entries with the pertinent contract documents, so it takes just one click to locate them.
  • It also creates linkages to applicable approval workflows so that the right people can act on the information in a timely fashion. Instead of you having to scan or print invoices and forward them to project managers for validation, these steps become automated.

Efficiency, transparency, and flexibility in vendor management

When Sikich implements NetSuite for life sciences companies, Vendor Study Management comes with the solution. If you deployed NetSuite on your own or with another partner’s help, it takes roughly only 40 to 60 person-hours to implement and test the functionality. Clients we have assisted save anywhere from 8 to 60 hours per month because of the increased efficiencies. The outcomes depend on the nature of your business and how you managed vendors and contract spending previously.

For you, as a procurement manager, Vendor Study Management gives full visibility of project finances and allows you to do away with the time-consuming efforts of reaching contract and project owners simply to get updated information. As you connect with project managers, you can discuss whether initial projections still hold or whether you need to adjust the amounts. You can realign projects and change forecasted costs at any time.

The solution provides an audit trail for every modification to a field in a record, and you can vet such changes against contract terms through the one-click link to contract documents. Similarly, vendor invoices recorded in NetSuite are always associated with specific contracts and projects and automatically summarized. You don’t need to be concerned about forgetting or missing invoices or working with outdated information.

You can flexibly assign projects and contracts supported by NetSuite to different owners, for instance, to a new project manager. The information then becomes part of a dashboard that helps them manage their accountabilities. That also means their conversations with CROs can be more meaningful because they can be based on accurate information.

Affordable cost of technology ownership

Standard business management or ERP systems available today do not include the kinds of capabilities that are part of SuiteSuccess. Vendor Study Management and the other enhancements for life sciences in SuiteSuccess give you an edge over these software products, including large enterprise systems:

  • You don’t need expensive customization to gain the right functionality for your business, resulting in potential future management and update challenges. It comes prebuilt with your instance of NetSuite and expands on native NetSuite technology.
  • You save more expenses because you don’t have to designate a full-time IT team member to administrate the solution. Business managers can confidently manage the solution’s day-to-day operation without involvement from IT.

Sikich clients using SuiteSuccess with Vendor Study Management include both public and private life sciences companies. If you are preparing to go public, or need to share financial data with auditors, investors, or business partners, the solution’s accuracy and transparency can be invaluable.

Some clients, like the assurance and peace of mind that comes with having a team of Sikich experts, manage their NetSuite environment. While there is a cost associated with that, in our experience, your costs still remain far below those of a highly customized solution.

If you see that Vendor Study Management and SuiteSuccess could be of value for your life sciences organization:

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. 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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