Biopharmaceutical Industry Still Has a Way To Go

Dale Potts
The biopharmaceutical industry still has a long way to go to become more efficient in its project management, according to delegates from the Faithful+Gould 2008 biopharmaceutical conference.

The event focused on the different working practices across the world, contract strategies, benchmarking processes and front end planning.

At this, the first biopharmaceutical conference organised by Faithful+Gould, thirty senior figures from some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies met in London in an effort to share best practice and address the issues currently facing the industry.

Despite an annual growth rate of 6.9%, it was felt that significant opportunities still exist where the industry can drive further efficiency into the delivery of projects and capital programmes on time and within budget. Key areas of discussion centered on harmonising project preconstruction approaches and the use of differing contract strategies across the sector. Contract strategies determine the level of integration between design, construction and ongoing maintenance for a given project. In addition, it should support the main project objectives in terms of risk allocation, delivery and incentivisation.

Many of those in attendance felt that the industry needed to look within itself to understand the effects that different strategy contracts is having.

Christopher Taylor, head of industry in the UK at Faithful+Gould, said: "Contract strategies vary greatly between clients, often specific to global location of the project, or determined by the home location of the owner company. The feeling at the conference was that the industry needs to really study the effects these varying approaches are having on completion times and budgets. It was also expressed that the current economic challenges may have presented the sector with the perfect opportunity to re-examine the models that have become conventional wisdom over the last ten to 15 years."

Benchmarking also played a significant role in the conference, in particular the assessment of behavioural factors on a project delivery.

Taylor continues: "Traditionally benchmarking is associated with project outcomes in terms of cost and duration. It is, however, becoming apparent that it is essential to also consider other aspects of the project in terms of behaviours and execution strategies. Through this process and by understanding these factors, the industry can look more closely at the differences between project outcomes, consequently learning how to do the job better. At Faithful+Gould we operate a comprehensive in-house benchmarking scheme which is sector specific. We not only look at the costs, we also look at the external factors that are, can and will, affect the delivery of the project. Being involved from project inception, through to implementation, and more recently on to the eventual retirement and disposal of real estate assets, means that we understand every aspect of a build. This puts us in the unique position of being able to offer expert advice to the industry."

Following the success of the London event, Faithful+Gould is planning its next biopharmaceutical conference for 2009 in New York.

Bruce Davies, Chair of the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE) commented: "This forum brought about a significant meeting of minds, and exchange of ideas. It was an excellent opportunity to network, share best practice, and explore common challenges and constraints about managing projects in a variety of global locations."