1. Redundancy in Supply Chain Networks
If we’ve learned anything this year it’s that unexpected disruptions in supply chain networks need to be anticipated. More than ever, our clients are reliant upon a complex network of materials suppliers, CMOs, 3PLs, and other external participants in their supply chains. Companies without built-in supply chain redundancy noticed this year that disruptions in even a single piece of the network reverberated through the entire supply chain, causing delays or unmet demand. We’ve spent time this year working with our clients to develop dual sourcing - even triple sourcing in some areas – to reduce the impact of an unanticipated disruption.
2. Conducting Remote Quality Audits & Inspections
With the restrictions on travel, Supplier Quality Audits and Health Authority (HA) Inspections are being conducted remotely. We’re seeing this being approached in two different ways. First, an attempt to mimic the traditional audit process with virtual plant walkthroughs and heavy reliance on video conferencing. The second way is to create a more asynchronous approach, conducting the audit largely through document requests and approvals. It has taken time for companies to get proficient at remote audits and inspections - which have been long unchanged - but mastering new technologies and embracing flexibility have given these companies an advantage in shaping these interactions and improving outcomes.
3. Demand for Agile, End-to-End Services
The circumstances of the past year have exposed weak points in supply chain & product development: supplier unavailability, capacity constraints at CMOs, qualifying new suppliers remotely, and virtually coordinating a network of disparate organizations. Successful companies in this environment have agility built into their supply chains, often leveraging end-to-end services or ‘virtual supply chain’ to achieve this resiliency. We see both the demand and supply for these end-to-end services growing in the coming years. The need for a virtual supply chain has proven to offer greater flexibility to pivot from a common monolithic supply chain model to a very agile model.
4. Cloud ERP Solutions for GxP Environments
This past year there have been capacity constraints in the existing CMO network, making it more difficult and more time consuming to bring new drugs to market using external manufacturing. So, we’ve seen a reactive shift towards internal manufacturing, especially for biopharmaceutical companies that look to deliver a full pipeline of gene therapies over the next 12-18 months. These companies have – for the first time – needed to consider the infrastructure & systems they will use in a validated environment. Utilizing newer, cloud-based ERP solutions – especially those positioned specifically for life science – has provided these companies with the flexibility of the cloud but assurance of time-tested, validated functionalities.
5. eCommerce at the Forefront
Demand for products like OTC and Consumer Good has exploded in 2020. But, for much of the year, traditional retail channels were closed or highly reduced in availability. This has put eCommerce several leaps ahead in terms of market share, continuing to be the fastest-growing channel in our sector. We’ve seen some struggles with meeting this growth in eCommerce demand, especially in the areas of sales planning, packaging, and distribution. eCommerce has furthermore driven an increased need for sustainably sourced packaging. To this end we see digitally printed packaging making a big leap forward in 2021. This technology makes printing both environmentally friendly and more cost-effective than traditional printing methods.