All posts by actexpharm

5 Tips for successful SRM software adoption

Supplier management software does not focus on just one business application. It is a composite of different activities covering a range of activities carried out by a diverse range of people within organisations.

It is therefore difficult to acquire one piece of technology that covers all bases. Some of the activities currently covered by the term SRM are as follows:

  • On-line procurement
  • Supplier on-boarding
  • Running commodity auctions
  • Risk management
  • Contract Management
  • Category and Spend Management
  • Project Management
  • Supplier Metrics and Performance management

The following are 5 tips in successfully assessing and implementing SRM:

  1. Understand the diverse assortment of supplier management tools available in the market. Manufacturers need to understand all of the supplier management tools that exist today. These include individual supplier information management (SIM) tools for basic data collection and workflow, supplier performance management, supplier risk management, spend and supplier visibility as well as broader suite components including supplier relationship management (SRM), e-sourcing and contract management.
  2. Rise to the analytics challenge. Many companies believe that they collect enough supplier information already. While this is not typical, even in the best case, for those organizations that have access to significant amounts of data, it’s doubtful that the bulk of the insights contained within it never surface. Organizations need to put in place an analytical/business intelligence (BI) infrastructure to make better decisions based on the supplier management data available to them.
  3. Integrate supplier management software with transactional and strategic decision tools. Supplier management cannot be a silo. Companies must strive to integrate both transactional and decision- support procurement tools with their supplier management tools. If manufacturers do not have the ability to act on supplier information in the context of routine tasks or important decisions, then they will have wasted all of their supplier management software efforts.
  4. One shoe fits all’ maybe not the case in this instance. In other words, move beyond the ERP vendor “master.” The concept of a single supplier system of record is almost laughable given how much supplier information is contained outside of an organization. It’s critical that all of the source systems come together to create a true picture of your supplier.
  5. Don’t forget integration with the back-end. Given the number of back-end transactional systems that interface with supplier management tools (shop-floor ERP/MRP for quality and on-time performance information), it is essential for IT leaders to develop a supplier management systems integration strategy that takes into account all of the internal and external source systems that a company will need to pull from and push information into.



How to identify risky suppliers?

Getting to know to a potential supplier for the first time? Trying to improve communication with existing suppliers and technical partners?

Quality or technical assessments, questionnaires or audits are  regularly used to gather information on a suppliers.

Do you rely on a paper based systems? getting your supplier to fill out a questionnaires and return it in pdf form by email or by post?

There are many software offerings now that allow you to transfer existing questionnaires to an electronic form and and then allow your suppliers/partners to fill in these forms in real time.

An example of a solution called RCP Score that I have been working on recently is given below:

You as a purchaser see in real time how the response to the questionnaire by your supplier is progressing. A score is generated measuring the type of responses you are getting and completeness of the overall response.

But can you convert the data gathered from such questionnaires into measuring risk in your supply chain? Can you utilise the data received back from your suppliers to actually measure  risk amongst your suppliers?

 RCP Score allows  suppliers to complete their questionnaire on-line, with responses immediately calculating a risk index. Action items can be  created depending on responses to questions and again these action items and their completion (or not!) feed into the risk calculation for that supplier.

 If you use a on-line method of communicating and receiving quality and technical response to questionnaires, I would welcome very much hearing from you. Do these systems calculate risk scores for your suppliers, based on the answers and actions you see back?

 If you would like to find out more about RCP Score software, running quality assessments with your suppliers on-line and calculating a risk index for your supply network, then please contact me on either +353 87 294 0436   or

How social are good suppliers?

We are now all well acquainted by now with Social media, with all age groups using or experimenting  in using social media  to various extents.

Lots of companies who operate in a B2B market are using social media but are they using Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin to engage customers?

Are they using social media successfully for sales, product or service development or customer service?

Can a buyer use the social media presence of a company to help qualify this company as an future potential supplier?

Ask yourself the following questions as you review social media channels:

  • What type of information is being posted? Either out of date employee news or competitions? or is it  interesting and current news of product developments or company performance?
  • Do the Social Media activities engage their customers as opposed to just being a on-line general PR activities?
  • Has a company made any genuine attempts to gain feedback from customers on their products or services?

I suppose the first and quickest way you will judge anything on social media is by the quality of information being posted. Has it any value to you in your buying decision process  whether it be for social or business purposes.


Companies using a combination of social media channels should pay equal attention to making sure quality is the same for each channel. Just focus on specific channels you intend and can keep updated on a regular basis rather than covering all bases with mediocre content.


Having a consistent message through all your social media whether it be customer engagement or PR gives a clear and quality message to the viewer. Try not to mix your objectives in any one social media channel.


The nature of the content is also important. News on actual product or manufacturing developments and performance of the company make a better impact to a potential buyer than news on lighter or non-critical PR events taking place around the company.


Good relevant authentic content (sourced from the companies own activities) can strengthen your company’s position as a reliable supplier. Poor content or abandoned channels at best do not enhance your reputation and at worse can give an impression of negativity.


Some good examples of B2B companies in manufacturing using social media are


Graphicast ( a company producing precision engineered metal parts)


Essentra Packaging


Steripack Packaging Company


Bronway (a company specialisation in automation solutions) use of Youtube


Lonza: Supplier of speciality chemicals and custom manufacturer


Catalent Pharma: Drug Development

Trade Shows: What purpose have they now?

cphi exhibitionI have just come back from the annual CPhI exhibition in Paris, a show that was celebrating it’s 25th year.

My plane took off an hour late due to a collision between two Ryanair jets at Dublin airport(minor touch of tail-fins), then a fire alarm went off at 1pm in the morning in my Paris hotel, and everyone had to vacate their rooms for the lobby.Then to cap it off we had a train strike on the final day! People travelling to the show were packed onto the remaining few operating trains like sardines, for the trip to the exhibition centre.

All this begs the question, every-year, are these super sized trade shows worth the hassle and expense of visiting? CPhI this year filled six of the halls in Villepinte in the North of Paris. It is a show I have been going to, on and off for 23 years. These trade shows can offer a very mixed experience to the visitor. Company stands can offer a roller-coaster of experiences for the visitor, in terms of  exhibitor response and interaction.

The big company stands can be very deliberate with their impression of  exclusivity with a ‘do not approach’ feeling,  their in-habitants seen drinking cocktails together, backs turned to the passing audience. Lots of stands have no company literature, no sign of the companies national origin, no graphics or posters of companies facilities or offices. A lot of the stands are there to make a statement (by the size and expense of the stand) and broadcast a message on its own place in the industry. Their stands are made up of meeting rooms and spaces used to congratulate their existing clients or sometimes negotiate a better price for a key supplier.

People queue to get into the train station at the CPhI exhibition
People queue to get into the train station at the CPhI exhibition

Smaller stands or booths are more traditional in their intent with literature consoles  full of brochures and photographs of facilities and products. They are there to inform and educate a passer-by about the company, its products and services. They are welcoming  to the passing visitor and provide an occasion to meet company personal. gain contacts and network.

These exhibitions are now truly vast, with a visitor who has the time, only able to get around a small portion of the literally thousands of companies attending. Leaving the halls for the final time after the show, I knew I had done well in the meetings I had achieved, but frustrated at not being able to get to everyone, to see new companies, new products and services,maybe next year………? This time  I felt the show was smaller than previous years, many of the big name companies were missing.

The show is only really effective for 2.5 days with the final afternoon being  very quite. Still there is good appetite for this type of a mega-trade show and companies are still prepared to invest  sizeable amounts of money in stands and booths.

The idea of participating in an international neutral trade zone, building what are really just expensive meeting cubicles, to meet your existing clients (and maybe some new ones) is still a popular one! But the answer to whether there is a future for global trade shows is found in the growth of the regional forms of CPhI, in China, India, South America e.t.c.. The more focused regional smaller shows offering companies the chance to network within their own continent or country seems to be as attractive.

The growth of on-line/web opportunities to communicate and to network will play an increasingly important part for companies looking to get their message out to a wider audience. There is still nothing to replace a face to face contact with your clients or suppliers at these type of shows, but certainly the heavy lifting maybe already done before the exhibition, through using email,social media and video conferencing services. Still I would miss my visit to Paris for the CPhI and the view of the city from the Sacre Coeur is always to be recommended!

View of Paris from Sacre Coeur

Anyone for Social Media?


social media logos

What are scientific based companies doing on social media? Are popular services such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ been used in successfully promoting and selling scientific services? These are the questions I set out to answer in a small piece or research involving 10 well-known companies.

I selected a mix of  companies (please see tha table of results at the end of this blog) that are providing development. manufacturing or packaging services. I then reviewed their use (if any) of Facebook, Twitter and Google+. I tried to identify the official site for the company rather than for a company subsidiary or third-party activity on behalf of a company.

For the purpose of this research I didn’t include LinkedIn, as companies seem to have now, as a default,  some type of listing on Linkedin. This service tends to be very recruitment orientated, good for networking, but lacks the graphical and interactive features of the other social media sites.

Also I didn’t look this time at YouTube. The use of video and therefore YouTube  to promote a company’s products and services, though individual videos and also now through ‘channels’ is becoming more popular. But a company needs good video content to support this and may companies have been slow to develop this particular forum maybe due to the cost of making good quality video. I will however look at this medium as I extend this study for future blogs.

What is Social Media been used for?

The main categories of use of all social media by the companies included in the research were (in no order of importance)

  • Updates on general company news
  • Employee news and activities (charitable, company days out e,t,c)
  • Recruitment, individual job notifications or background to working in the company.
  • Product or service details or information
  • Notification of exhibition/seminar attendance and reporting

What I found…….

What was very interesting from the research was the overall popularity of Twitter over Facebook and Google+. It is been used broadly over the all the categories given above. This could be for the reason that it is still a quick way to post information due to the brevity demanded by the service. It is the nearest to a traditional ticker news service of the past but is also now allowing graphics to improve its visual impact.

Facebook and Google+ offer text, graphic and interactive features but are only used for limited purposes with companies opting out of the interactive features. Both services are used  for similar tasks with content been duplicated and used on both channels. Facebook has still a good lead on Google+ in overall terms of uptake by companies. Google+ is only been used in a small number of cases by companies and was much more likely than Facebook just to have just an address and nothing else. I am not sure why companies establish a Facebook,Google+ or twitter account and presence and then abandon them with no content or updating.  I think that this can be counter-productive as users start judging your company simply by the lack of activity on your social media accounts!

Some of the companies that were surveyed that are  using social media are not providing information or links to their Twitter, Facebook, Google+ sites from their own company websites! A reason maybe that company websites tend to be updated only from time to time and maybe not been updated with the relevant links. But a good social media strategy should have the different mediums complimenting each other and be integrated allowing a user to flow between them plugging into the strengths of each activity/chanel.

What I didn’t see in the survey was the use of social media for customer service or support. This is proving to be a very popular use of social media among other industrial sectors especially in a B2C context. But in this small piece of research I didn’t see evidence of social media been used to interact with customers for customer services actions i.e. recording customer issues, complaints, feedback e.t.c.

Also I didn’t see the use of social media to gain sales leads through requests for information from users (contact forms e.t.c) when accessing information available through the channels. This can be done through so-called   ‘calls for actions’. In return for access to content such as white papers,slides or new/old webinars the details of individuals and companies can be recorded and followed up on. So I would conclude that social media is not actively employed in direct sales activities or information gathering and gaining customer/user feedback but more extending the reach and purpose of existing company websites and linkedin activities.

Below is a table of results for the companies covered in the research.

 Company  Type of  Services             Facebook (activities)          Twitter (activities)         Google+ (activities)
   Lonza Manufacturing
  • Employee News
  • Social news
  • Product/Service Information
  • Company News
  • Careers
  • Product/service information
  • Basic  company details (address, website url)
  Covance Development
  • General company information
  • Events
  • Product/service information
  • exhibitions/seminars
  • Basic company details
  SGS Life  Science Development
  • Basic  company details
  • Basic company  details
  • Basic company details
 Haupt   Pharma Manufacturing
  • None
  • None
  • None
 Recipharm Manufacturing
  • None
  • None
  • None
  Aesica Manufacturing
  • Product/service information
  • Employee news
  • Company news
  • Exhibitions/seminars/webcasts
  • None
  • None
  Eurofins Laboratory
  • None
  • Limited (USA only)
  • Basic(company details)
  Patheon Development
  • None
  • Product/service information
  • Employee information
  • Company news
  • Exhibitions/seminar attendance
  • None
  Metrics Inc Development
  • None
  • Product/service information
  • Exhibition/seminar attendance
  • Company information
  • None
CapsCanada Manufacturing
  • None
  • Product/service information
  • Product/service information
Chesapeake Packaging
  • Product/service information
  • Company news
  • employee news
  • None
  • Product/service information
  • Company news
  • employee news

New very different therapeutic applications for existing drugs

Over the last couple of days I have read about an old drug Citalopram (Celaxa, Lundbeck)  initially developed for the treatment of depression, has now  been the subject of early research into the treatment of Alzheimers.  Researchers from University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and Washington University Medical School in St. Louis, set out to explore the untapped powers of antidepressants, SSRIs to reduce production of beta-amyloid, a plaque that having grown on brain cells causes Alzheimers.(Ref: LA Times May 14th, 2014)citalopram

This very early research work into Citalopram has shown it effective in at least stopping the spread of the plaque (in mice) but not (as yet) rolling it back. What about other good examples of products/molecules developed in the past, that have found new subsequent uses? I’ve put together a table below identifying 10 compounds some of which have successfully been indicated and been awarded licenses for new applications. I have tried to pick out products that have found applications in other areas, very different from the original therapeutic application that they were developed to target. I did find quite a few molecules that have extended their application within the same sector that they orginally targeted, a common example of this is in the cancer sector.

Most of the molecules listed below in the table  through their brand names, are now household names for their initial application. Though the newer or subsequent application typically doesn’t replicate the sales  success of their original use, some like aspirin are now mainstreamaspirin in the alternative application such as in the case of aspirin, in  the treatment of hypertension.

If you know of other good example of older molecules/products that have been used in very different applications than those they were orginally developed for, I would welcome hearing from you and I will update this blog with the information.

Table showing a list of 10  molecules with their existing/original application along with newer applications.

Exisiting molecule Originator Company Original Application New or Secondary Application
Citalopram* Lundbeck Depression Alzheimers*
Sildenafil Pfizer Hypertension Erectile Dysfunction
Aspirin Bayer Pain Management Hypertension
Botox Allergan Stabismus/Blepharospasm Cosmetic use/Migraines
Perphenazine* Schering Plough Antipsychotic Leukemia*
Thalidomide Grunenthal Sedative/nausea Leprosy/myeloma
Sirolimus Pfizer Organ/transplant rejection Controlling a rare lung disease in children
Tamoxifen* AZ Cancer Bipolar depression*
Raloxifene Lilly Osteoporosis Breast Cancer
AZT/Zidovudine** GSK Cancer** HIV/Aids


* study of these molecules for these new applications is still at an early stage and have not been approved for marketing for these indications.

** Failed in clinical trials in the use as a treatment for certain cancers



LA Times:Preventing Alzheimer’s disease — with an antidepressant

TedBlog: 9 old drugs that learned new tricks: The head of the National Institutes of Health shares medicines that turned out to have multiple uses.

Antipsychotic Drug Fights Leukemia in Model: Perphenazine



Into the future, from milk powder to pharma super power…

Remembering recently visits during the 1980’s to the then Glaxo company in Greenford-London, the Glaxo factory was built (in an art-deco design) in the 1930’s,  and represented very much the birth of the modern pharmaceutical industry in the United Kingdom. I was told during my visit that the Glaxo factory  was originally a milk powder producer, and that during the Second World War, the factory at Greenford was pressed into manufacturing penicillin products to help the war effort. Glaxo obviously took this opportunity presented by the war, and went on to become a pharmaceutical super power within the industry. In the meantime GlaxoSmithKline have now moved out of the Greenford site and the site now awaiting sale and redevelopment. The latest news is old Glaxo factory is going to become an apartment complex, that’s progress!!

Glaxo building in Greenford, London.

This got me thinking about how both companies and industries evolve. There is a definite life cycle both in a company and the surrounding pharma-sector. We are only too aware of this in Ireland at the moment where some of our manufacturing companies are currently experiencing the patent cliff on a number of their products with the accompanying drop in sales. The modern industry here was initially built around the advent of the blockbuster drug but has quickly had to adapt what it does due to the demise of some of these successful products due to patent expiry and also manufacturing competition from other countries. From being very much gone from having a pharma industry based around the manufacture of bulk ingredients, the sector has looked for opportunities to both move down stream and evolve. So we have the addition of formulation manufacture to some of the bulk ingredients plants. Many of the formulations and products  included hard to handle materials and complex manufacturing. But again, many countries now offer this type of production, so again we had to look further  into the manufacture of biologics and new biotechnology products. Ireland has successfully attracted companies such as Amgen, Genzyme, Weyth Biotech (now Pfizer), Janssen Biotech, Biomarin, Alexion and Regeneron.  The move from small to large molecule synthesis and formulation is well under way!! As both companies and the sector grows, Ireland is also developing an accompanying  pharma service sector. This is represented by such companies as Alkermes, PPD,  TopChem, Almac and Icon.  They deliver chemical and biological development skills right across the life time of a drug product from discovery chemistry through to manufacture and distribution. These service companies need skills and knowledge in how to communicate globally effectively with sponsors/clients and deliver projects and development on time. It is not just anymore a case of being a toll manufacturer of bulk ingredients operating from a recipe developed elsewhere. Now service companies find themselves at the heart of a worldwide development process both in clinical development but also at the manufacturing stage.

Alkermes biulding in Athlone, Co. Roscommon, Ireland.

The future? This must involve discovering and bringing to market new drugs and medicines here in Ireland. Central to this effort, the government has been developing and supporting centres of research excellence at the Universities and also putting money into organisations such as the excellent National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT). This is exactly the type of government intervention that is needed and will help support the evolution of a research based industry in future years.

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NIBRT building in South Dublin

For further information of companies mentioned in this blog please go to