Monday, May 4, 2015

Starting With a Blank Slate, How Would You Shape an Ideal Partnership?

By Kristina Lopienski, Product Marketing Manager, Forte Research Systems, Inc.

During Partnerships in Clinical Trials last week, a keynote panel titled, “Starting with a Blank Slate: How Would You Shape an Ideal Partnership” featured a group of senior leaders in clinical outsourcing. At a conference about partnerships, it was very fitting to hear them talking about how they would shape an ideal partnership if they could start from scratch. The panelists took a step back to reflect on how they would create an ideal outsourced relationship structure, knowing what they know now.

It starts with alignment on being clear what the problem is that you’re trying to solve. It won’t work if you have a solution yet no understanding of the problem. You must look at the specific problem you’re trying to solve and collectively build a solution around that. One panelist said one of the greatest challenges lies in how to get the best out of the best people to achieve extraordinary outcomes for patients. Another said the thing that stands out is the ability to work together. They must celebrate each other’s strengths and experiences, and collaborate in a way that’s focused on the end goal.

There needs to be a high degree of trust and integration, relying on your partner’s expertise, leveraging what they do best and operating in the most efficient environment. It’s unsurprising that the marriage analogy was use repeatedly throughout this session. One of the panelists joked that you realize there’s probably greater advantages than disadvantages to the partnership, filled with both good times and bad times, and while there are things you’d like to change, they are mostly out of your control. These partnerships are not measured by how everything is going when everything is going well; it’s how things are going when there are challenges. Like any successful marriage, you must work together towards a common goal. The weak ones will get divorced, as there is a lot of churn in industry. When things go wrong, it’s not just one partner’s problems – it’s both – in sickness and in health.

It’s hard to functionally outsource something that you’re not currently doing yourself. It comes down to what activities within larger companies are truly core and strategic in nature that no one else can do better. It’s those that should be kept within the walls of the company. Those that are critical but not core can be given away. You also need to be expert in your own business. If you fail to maintain the expertise, you invite risk. There’s no one solution and it will vary company to company, but it’s crucial to identify goals and objectives and be aligned with your partner.

About the Author: Kristina Lopienski is the Product Marketing Manager for Overture EDC at Forte Research Systems. In her role, she works to bring educational resources to clinical research professionals. She writes on a variety of topics affecting clinical trials on the Forte Clinical Research Blog. Kristina served as the guest blogger covering Partnerships in Clinical Trials 2015. 

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