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Why Modernising Your Legacy System Is Essential For The Next Phase Of Growth

We are beginning, or as some would argue, are already in an era of huge technological and AI advancement and data driven business models. In the pharmaceutical industry specifically, Information Technology infrastructure has become more than just a cost required to run a business and is an asset that can be instrumental in growing the business potential. For that potential to be fully realised organisations need to take an in-depth critical look at what is already in place and what is truly needed now, and for the future. Pharma is an industry steeped in IT legacy systems because these were once the gold standard in delivering a Validated Statistical Computing Environment and a trustworthy framework for drug development and submissions. They were the best, and the only options; this is no longer the case.

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What are legacy systems?

Inheriting a legacy would normally be a great thing, not in the IT world. 

In this situation legacy systems represent outdated and often bespoke infrastructure, applications, or processes. They can be difficult to maintain, replace, or update quickly and cost effectively. Although these systems are functional, they can create a financial burden and require tricky to find IT skills and hinder the ability to innovate and adapt to market changes. 

When to modernise?

Modernising systems is essential if you want to continue to grow and succeed in the drug development space. Digital transformation will unlock the potential of your data as well as put you in a position to meet market demands, react quicker to business changes and attract new talent to your company.

There is no denying that business leaders drive innovation and growth at companies, but without the appropriate technological support their hands can be tied. CIO’s, IT leaders and Statistics Directors at established Pharmaceuticals, CRO’s or Biotech’s may find themselves torn. The choice between maintaining older, expensive hardware that is unable to support fluid and cost effective growth and won’t seamlessly integrate with widely used open source platforms, OR undertaking the daunting task of revamping their infrastructure to find a best fit platform for their business goals. Timing is key and defining the right time to modernise when the greatest impact can be achieved, with limited disruption on the business, is vital. With the dramatic shift in pharma speed to market goals over the last year, it is becoming clear that now is that time. With careful project planning and a tailored approach to the levels of modernisation needed, the ultimate goal of an agile system that can grow with an organisation can be achieved in a cost-effective way. 

Where to start?

Start with deciding the level of change needed to the current system and what framework will best support growth long term. There are a variety of options from off the shelf turnkey solutions, to fully bespoke offerings or a combination of both. 

The main goal is getting to a place where the control and governance on that data and the processes followed can be managed centrally. This not only reduces the risk of noncompliance, but also allows improved and faster collaborations between colleagues. With a new platform, both standard software tools such as SAS, and open source data analytics software like R and Python, can be used in tandem. 

Consider these 5 factors when starting to plan your digital transformation strategy:

  1. Architecture – review the current performance and ROI to assess where newer technologies can deliver improved outcomes.
  2. Financial – Evaluate long term spend and future potential costs involved in delivering and maintaining a new vs the current system.
  3. Risk – Weigh up the possible risk of change vs the risk of leaving the system as it is, including maintenance of out of support systems.
  4. Security – Plan ways to protect data within the current system, during the change and after. Avoiding data loss, outages, or exposure.
  5. Location – Think about where the platform can be hosted; On-Premise or Cloud (public, private or a hybrid variation). Cloud can be more expensive but offers more instant flexibility.

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Business benefits

It is becoming more apparent that moving to a fully integrated Validated Statistical Computing Environment is a must for organisations wanting to stay ahead of the competition. Moreover, the ability to mix ‘Commercial Off the Shelf’ solutions with bespoke platforms and open source software leads to a new ‘Composite COTS’ solution for a validated environment. One that is not only affordable for the small to medium pharmaceuticals, Biotech's and CRO’s but that can be adapted to provide what is needed in the business now, and in the future. This will enable: 

  1. Increased Speed to Market – Instant access to data and analysis across multiple users expedites processes and procedures leading to quicker reaction times.
  2. Scalability and Workforce Accessibility – Full flexibility that aligns with onboarding new clients and employees. Greater choice of high calibre staff who have a proficient working knowledge of open source data modelling and analysis software.
  3. Control and Reduced Risk – Centralised governance ensuring consistent outputs and procedures are followed. Facilitating a remote workforce where actions are fully traceable and validated.
  4. Improved Productivity and Operational Efficiency – Enabling employees to work efficiently across departments and locations without disruption.
  5. Long term cost savings – Aging infrastructure costs more to maintain that a modernised option that utilises open source software. 

More and more we are seeing the democratisation of analytics – putting the right tools in the right hands, embracing open source technologies to provide an integrated analytics platform with SAS software that helps accelerate innovation. Which is why we are partnering with growing Biotech’s, CRO’s and pharmaceutical companies to deliver an affordable bespoke solution that leverages current strengths and brings systems, operating procedures and infrastructure to a place that supports the rapid growth that the industry is seeing. 

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