So You Want To Be A Consultant?

As a consultant for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, I provide strategies on how to effectively manage revenue and improve business processes by optimizing contract strategies, minimizing revenue leakage, and constructing comprehensive reports for more accurate forecasting.

In simpler terms, I help companies streamline costs and become more competitive in an increasingly complex and demanding marketplace. While it’s not easy, it is exciting. The global pharma industry today faces unprecedented market pressures, shrinking pipelines, stiff competition and an unstable regulatory environment.

Like clutch hitters, consultants are called in to make the game-winning decisions. We help companies focus on best practices and outcomes – and develop the best possible business models. Being an effective player in this realm requires motivation, intelligence and insight, but the benefits of working at a consulting company are enormous.

Key Benefit #1: You Are Always Learning – and Teaching

Every new project brings a wealth of new experiences and learning opportunities for a consultant. Unlike the typical routine of day-to-day responsibilities that comprise most industry jobs, a consultant’s responsibilities change from moment-to-moment, guided by the company’s most urgent needs. In the process, you have an opportunity to develop new strategies, apply tried-and-true practices and share expertise. You also gain knowledge across vast areas of the industry at an accelerated pace. Throughout this process, you are constantly finding new ways to leverage your experience across multiple clients to determine the best possible fix or course of action.

Key Benefit #2: You Are the Product

Maybe the greatest part about consulting is that you are able to mold yourself into the product that your client needs the most. Often times working at a large corporation means supporting your employer in a certain field such as finance, operations, human resources, or research and development in order to assure the success of their product.  As a consultant, you are the product!  Your employer’s success depends entirely on how much your clients value you.  They turn to you for advice, and you become an essential factor in their success. It’s a great feeling!

In essence, consultants sell themselves as that invaluable missing piece that could shape a company’s next big break-through. Once they see the results of your critical input, they see you as an indispensable part of the decision-making team.

Why Do Companies Need Consultants?

The best consultants benefit their clients in many ways:

  • extension of their own team
  • go-to resource for problem-solving
  • trusted advisor
  • key strategic partner
  • add value to every initiative

The greatest consultants provide a high-level of contact, execute well, and add tremendous strategic value to projects — and to the overall business. Maybe the most important benefit that consultants can provide is peace of mind.

Thoughts and Perspectives on Model N’s Rainmaker 2015

“Change” was a pervasive theme at this year’s Rainmaker conference, hosted by Model N, a partner of Alliance Life Sciences, at the Westin Hotel in San Francisco, California. Model N seemed eager to show that it is evolving, much like the industry it services. The breakout sessions, chaired by Model N employees and representatives of pharmaceutical manufacturers, ranged from software demonstrations and panel discussions to traditional podium speakers.

The new developments exhibited by the company all carried a similar theme of being proactive.  Rather than toe the line or change reactively, a concerted effort is being made to stay ahead of industry standards and forge new best practices. These advances include new customer relationship programs, “Revenue Management as a Service” offering, “Express” implementations, and a new customer relationship management (CRM) platform entitled, Revvy Sales.

Model N prominently displayed its transition into cloud revenue management. Both Adobe and Salesforce were present to share their experience with “Transformation to the Cloud,” providing insight into the tangible benefits. Their latest concept, CRM2, is the combination of CRM and cloud revenue management, although they warned that users should not “cloud themselves into a corner.” In other words, while “speed is the new currency,” such advances should not sacrifice efficiency for the sake of expediency. Clearly, innovation is critical to Model N’s business model, but remains tempered by the necessity to deliver quality service.

While robust in scope, the product offerings from Model N represented only about one-third of what was presented during the event. The balance of the presentations covered a large cross-section of the revenue management space in pharma: commercial transactions, contracting strategies, government pricing policies, gross-to-net analysis, master data management, forecasting, accruals, and global pricing – to name a few. Model N’s theme of “change” was represented across the other presentations, as well. With talks such as “Future of MedTech – Disruption and the Advent of Big Data” and “Cranking up the AMP Volume: A Diagnostic of the New Ruling,” there was a decidedly forward-thinking atmosphere, in terms of anticipating industry trends and hypothesizing solutions to the shifting environments.

It was fascinating to see industry thought leaders discuss the likelihood and practicality of healthcare moving from a Fee-For-Service (FFS) to a Fee-For-Outcomes model in “Life Sciences 2020.” “Maximizing Revenues and Optimizing Customer Experience with Customer Master Data” examined frequently overlooked ways of streamlining business efficiency by improving data cleanliness. Hearing about more precise indirect sales management in “Updates on 340B Eligibility,” and creative managed care rebate solutions in “Innovative Contracting Strategies,” provided keen insight into optimal commercial operations.

Perhaps the most engaging aspect of these discussions was the spirit of knowledge-sharing that made them possible. Through the collaboration of various industry stakeholders, the insights gleaned from the conference were both eclectic and comprehensive. If current expectations become reality, the revenue management space in pharma will undoubtedly face a number of interesting developments in the future.

Alliance Life Sciences Formalizes Software Organization, Launches Separate Division

SOMERSET, N.J. / LONDON – October 27, 2014 – Alliance Life Sciences Consulting Group (ALSCG), a leading global life sciences consultancy and technology provider, announces the launch of a separate division focused on life sciences price optimization software and the appointment of Mark Costa as senior vice president of Products to lead and drive the strategic and operational direction of this new software product division.

Costa brings over 20 years of software sales and management experience primarily in life sciences to this division, created as a separate group from the Company’s service offerings in order to provide more effective product development and better alignment with market needs.

Alan Crowther, CEO, ALSCG, says, “Costa has relationships with many of the top 25 pharmaceutical companies, and comes on board at an exciting time for our organization as we experience the growth of this newly created division. We built this separate software division to support an appropriate structure for growth and to allow the right partner ecosystem to evolve around the product. Costa is absolutely the right person to accomplish these objectives, while delivering great customer satisfaction.”

Coming most recently from Revitas, a global life sciences revenue management software company, Mr. Costa is an expert in complex enterprise solution lifecycles and customer adoption of new technologies within the global revenue management segment of the life sciences industry. As founder of multiple information technology businesses, Costa has the experience to direct entrepreneurial and high performance organizations and teams, propelling them to meet and exceed goals and generate the customer satisfaction necessary to sustain high year-over-year revenue growth.

Costa says, “It is exciting, and an honor, to be part of the ALSCG organization. The new structure will help to deliver more value to our customers and partners. I’m looking forward to driving our software business, focused on our customers’ business and their success.”

 

Optimizing Contract Management and Operations

For the Managed Markets division at a pharmaceutical manufacturer working in silos, along with an exclusive focus on individual responsibilities can lead to downstream issues if not properly aligned with the needs of other groups. When the Contract Management, Rebate Processing, and Government Pricing teams work harmoniously together, optimal efficiency can be achieved across the division. However, failing to do this can impact processing speed and integrity, squander company time and resources, and incur unnecessary financial penalties.

Strategies and Language

The life cycle for managed care contracts begins with the negotiation of the paper contract. This is critical for the groups implementing contract strategies to have an understanding of the downstream impact this can have on the organization. Prior to entering into contractual agreements, knowledge of the gross-to-net and government pricing calculations needs to be effectively communicated between all involved groups. Since contract management groups are seldom involved in day-to-day operations, creative and innovative pricing strategies, which appear to be saving the manufacturer money, may actually be extremely problematic. Potential savings can be lost due to language that is left open to interpretation.

Revenue Management System Setup and Maintenance

The majority of Life Sciences companies purchase a revenue management system for administering contracts with Managed Care Organizations (MCO) and Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBM). While the benefits of these systems are evident – accurate calculations, prompt payments, and a centralized secure data warehouse – it is only with the proper configuration, realistic contract strategies, and efficient processes that a manufacturer can see the true benefits. To configure these environments most effectively, it takes years of industry and system specific experience and continuous communication between all parties involved. Without such coordination, the system may seem, at best, burdensome, and at worst, create a significant bottleneck in the rebate payment process.

While there are a variety of ways to set up a contract in a system, it is critical to understand the manufacturer’s long-term needs in order to develop the most efficient setup.By effectively translating the terms of a paper contract, a consequent improvement can occur to the bottom-line as a result of minimizing late fees and eliminating unnecessary headcount. While processing time varies by the complexity of the contract, failure to perform adequate evaluation is often the catalyst for future dysfunction.With contracts configured in the optimal format, an experienced rebate analyst should be able to process submissions against even the most complex agreements in less than 90 minutes. Spending more time than that is likely the result of a poorly configured contract.

Downstream Effects

Oversights that may seem minor in the initial stages can trigger a ripple effect that has significant consequences. Vague contract language can have the greatest impact on an organization and end up costing millions of dollars in additional rebates. It is recommended that the Government Pricing and Contract Management teams collaborate to develop the proper language within contracts. Once this is completed, the Rebate Processing team can configure systems properly and work to ensure all necessary calculations such as the Average Manufacturer Price (AMP) are accurate. Understanding the impact and interplay between contract negotiations, day-to-day operations, and Government Pricing is a crucial component to achieving long-term success.

Operating at an optimal capacity is a feat all companies nominally strive to attain, but few are able to achieve. Alliance Life Sciences can help you establish practices that are proactive and communicative to benefit you company across the spectrum of contract life cycle.

Click here for more information on our services.

Insight. Innovation. Impact. Integrity.

During the first quarter of 2014, Alliance began our journey to develop a new message that would embody our company as a whole.  Our clients and internal team provided feedback that shaped a new prospective leading to the launch of our re-branding.  Through all of our development activities, one theme prevailed, the importance of our customers.  The ultimate outcome being, that it’s not about what we do but who we do it for and how they benefit.

Keeping both the feedback and the end goals of our customers in mind we developed our new tagline Insight. Innovation. Impact. Integrity. Through this process, we found that it’s not our knowledge, solutions, and proprietary tools that our company thrives on. It’s the team of passionate people.

Who better to ask what the new Alliance brand means then those people themselves? Check out their responses at the link below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvIyErRkDII&list=UUiPA3dAD-HVHSyfsVgQ5mmg

To celebrate the re-birth of our brand, we held a “brand day” party on September 26th, 2014, which luckily for us, and our executive team whom were elected to take the ALS Ice Bucket challenge, ended up being a warm Indian summer day.  Equipped with a Taco truck and various team building activities the day left our team with high moral and many laughs to take with us.

taco truck

 

Alliance’s V.P.Global Client Development Jon Kizner and Executive V.P, Global Sales and Marketing Jeff Erb order lunch!

ring toss

 

CFO Jason Watters playing Ring Toss to raise money for ALS.

ice bucket challenge

CEO Alan Crowther takes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

 

Alliance Life Sciences Launches New Brand and Website Brings Focus to Customer Centric Impact

SOMERSET, N.J. / LONDON – September 29, 2014 – Alliance Life Sciences Consulting Group (ALSCG), a leading global life sciences consultancy and technology provider, announces the re-launch of its brand and website at http://www.alscg.com.

After a thorough review of its brand positioning and their client’s motivations for engagement, the company debuts it’s new positioning through the tagline: “Insight. Innovation. Impact. Integrity.”

ALSCG is a global innovator that delivers peace of mind and unlocks business value with unique solutions to complex commercial problems. The company combines proprietary technology and consulting to maximize product portfolio value through strategy, insights, technology and customer engagement.

“Our customers think of ALSCG as the definitive go-to resource, helping them to rethink contracting, sales and marketing, pricing and market access operations to meet emerging stakeholder requirements and expectations,” says Alan Crowther, CEO of ALSCG. “We are strategically aligned with our customers to unlock business value with unique solutions to these problems.”

After conducting research utilizing an agency, Alliance‘s new brand direction closely portrays a bold and innovative approach to solving challenges within life sciences, while providing messaging that align with its customer’s motivational drivers.

Through its three practice areas that focus on revenue management through a product’s lifecycle, Alliance creates meaningful and compelling value, with global projects that have included:

  • Pricing study delivered in Switzerland
  • Global pricing system delivered in Germany
  • Health economic study for a “Top 5″ pharma company in Taiwan
  • Animal health website delivered in Chile
  • Emerging market entrance pricing strategy in India
  • Revenue contract management system delivered in the USA

Revenue Enhancement through Rebate Process Improvement: Part 2

Optimal Stage

The most common issue experienced is overbilling with many industry factors being the cause. The most prevalent form of overbilling comes from incorrect invoice data. Performing manual and automated validations are the most effective way to find, reject, and correct these errors.

A typical checklist of validations might proceed as follows:

  • Import into a revenue management system
  • Evaluate detail data to find ineligible plans, incorrect NDCs, ad outdated products.
  • Discard and exclude the above data from rebate payment.
  • Conduct aberrant quantity check.
  • Cross-examine the units against the Rebate Days’ supply.
  • Send request to customer to make the appropriate changes to units not consistent with the correct unit of measure (UOM).
  • Check submitted Prescription ID for validity and run against a list of all valid pharmacies.
  • Evaluate the formularies to determine whether plans are matched to the correct tier.
  • Run a duplicate check to identify data that appears more than once in the current file or any preceding quarters.

Figure 2 below depicts a real example of how a manufacturer appropriately optimized their invoice validation and rebate payments. Although invalid lines can be corrected and resubmitted, the manufacturer has visibility to the rejections and can estimate submissions based on behavior patterns of their customers.  This process allows utilizing dollars for an additional quarter to their advantage rather than prematurely paying an inflated rebate amount.

figure 2

Savings and Continuous Improvement

Quarterly trackers and dashboards, for example, allow data to be collected and measured against performance metrics in real time. Data from submissions and settlements provide useful statistics when properly leveraged. The fuel for continuous process improvement is to properly manage company growth; the insight gained from the available data provides the needed tools.

New contracts, products, and revised payment terms can significantly alter the way a company operates. Successful adaptation to these changes means continuous savings. Failure results in substantial and often unrealized losses.

Figure 3 below presents another real example of validating incoming invoice data excluding a large sum from a quarter of paid rebates. Manufacturers can preserve revenue on a continuous basis each quarter by employing these process techniques.

figure 3

Effective revenue management is about ensuring that optimal controls are in place. Maintaining status quo is easy, but it comes at the expense of ignoring process shortcomings that erode Organizations often miss the opportunities to improve their processes and incur revenue leakage. Therefore, it is critical to determine its place in the rebate processing lifecycle. Exploring the associated optimization strategies initiates growth in a way that is both measured and proactive, augmenting efficiency while yielding significant bottom line results.

For more information on our Contract Operations & Performance Services, visit http://www.alscg.com/expertise/contract-strategy-operations-and-compliance/contract-operations-performance-services

 

Revenue Enhancement through Rebate Process Improvement: Part 1

Administrative tasks associated with rebate processing aren’t typically viewed as revenue generators however, when managed effectively, they can provide benefits and contribute to the bottom line.  Left overlooked, a business can encounter compliance issues, misallocate time and resources resulting in financial losses. Standardized rebate calculation processes, validation and analytics become necessary for successful practices.

Maturity Assessment

Many organizations start with one product that can be easily managed with manual
processes, however, company growth soon renders effective management of
submission details impossible to efficiently maintain. Understanding gaps that
require remediation helps develop guidelines for process improvements. Maturation
requires small improvements in stages adding forward-thinking and cumulative
value. Scrutiny is key to the progress making verification of rebate submission
details to be a highly recommended practice.

Assessment of contract strategies, number of products, and transactional volumes are required and consider when moving from simpler to more advanced processes. Stages should be evaluated before moving on to determine if it’s financially viable and realistic given existing resources.

Figure 1 depicts a typical maturity curve when developing a standard rebate processing procedure. Standard progression starts with basic “Pay-To-Invoice” methodology, followed by systematically calculated rebates, then achieving optimization with validations to control revenue leakage.

Figure 1

Exploring the transition, it is important to remember each has its distinct advantages and shortfalls and an optimal state will vary by organization. Understanding the entire spectrum will determine when a change is needed.

Foundational Stage

The pay to invoice methodology is the easiest and least intensive way to meet the terms and conditions set forth in the contract language.  Rebate payment, issued without investigation, based on the Pharmacy Benefit Manager or Managed Care Organization’s invoice interpretation and calculation. Compliance and prompt payment are not issues, but accuracy suffers resulting in the largest amount of revenue loss. Manual analysis overcomes this issue but is impractical when dealing with larger amounts of data.

Invoices vary containing only a few easily scrutinized records or several hundred lines of summarized data. The latter shows an analyst cannot determine the accuracy of the invoice if multiple pricing strategies are being used, like base rebates, price protection, market share rebates, and admin fees.

Operational Stage

Calculations are needed to translate contract terms.  Ongoing maintenance is critical because the precision of not updated calculations deteriorates rapidly.  When contract terms are computed, a basis of comparison is established to measure submitted data. By comparing an invoice to an internally calculated standard, analysts determine the correct payment more efficiently.

Metrics are implemented to systematically gauge performance levels when an operational foundation is established. These measurements provide the analytics to support decisions, launch new projects, allocate resources, and provide insights into revenue trends.  Routine checks of process efficiency is crucial to ensure that standards are effectively keeping up with new strategies. Pushing aside these checks for other tasks provides detrimental results.

In our next post we will discuss the Optimal Stage and Continuous Improvements.

For more information on our Contract Operations & Performance Services, visit: http://www.alscg.com/expertise/contract-strategy-operations-and-compliance/contract-operations-performance-services

Alliance Reports Record Growth in 2013: Revenue Up More than 20 Percent Over 2012, 100 Percent Growth Since 2010, Continued Profitability

Alliance Life Sciences reports record revenues in 2013, and a three-year compound annual growth rate of over 20 percent that has led to revenues nearly doubling from 2010.

“Throughout 2013, we delivered a strong line-up of services and solutions which translate into over 20 percent growth for our third straight year,” says Alan Crowther, CEO, ALSCG. “Also, our addition of Jason Watters as an experienced industry chief financial officer will help lay the foundation for continued growth.”

Watters joined ALSCG after serving as chief financial officer at McKinsey’s IT Solutions division, where he oversaw part of that division’s growth from inception to almost $200 million in revenues in five years. He brings considerable experience in high-growth consulting and IT solution environments.

In addition, ALSCG had record bookings in December 2013 and January 2014, positioning the company for another record year in 2014.

Watters states, “Based on industry trends in Life Sciences, and the growing demand for our unique mix of services, we expect over 20 percent growth in 2014 and 2015. We forecast that the firm will have grown almost 200 percent since 2010 by the end of 2015.”

Not only is ALSCG growing revenues at a significant rate, but also the firm experienced a number of major successes:

  • Three of the Top 10 Pharmaceutical Companies adopted ALSCG’s PriceRight™ global pricing solutions
  • Four of the Top 10 Pharmaceutical Companies used or renewed ALSCG’s PRICENTRIC™ global pricing data services
  • Seven successful “go-lives” at clients with Revenue Contract Management suite implementations

Crowther adds, “Our tremendous success and growth in a short time reflects the strengths of our strategy, our close relationships with our customers, and the efforts of our professionals around the globe. Building upon this momentum, we will continue to offer customers the management, technology and software products they need to solve business problems, maximize revenue and achieve optimal pricing in an outcomes-based world.”

NJBIZ Ranks Alliance Life Sciences in Top 10 Among Technology Consultant Service Companies in New Jersey

Alliance Life Sciences has been ranked number eight among New Jersey’s technology consultant service companies by NJBIZ’s Annual Book of Lists 2014, an influential source of information for business-to-business professionals in New Jersey.

“This ranking reflects our continued growth, our record 2013 year, the quality of our employees and their dedicated approach to serving our customers,” says Alan Crowther, CEO, ALSCG.  “We are honored to be recognized by the highly respected and influential NJBIZ, and applaud their focus on critical business issues.”

ALSCG serves over 40 of the largest pharmaceutical and medical device companies, including 8 of the top-10 largest pharmaceutical manufacturers, enabling them to focus on continued investments in patient health and well-being by helping them receive fair value for their products with an integrated portfolio of services:

  • Management Consulting
  • Technology Integration
  • Solutions and Data Services

ALSCG has many specialized offerings with top strategic positions in the industry, and delivers these services with expertise across the following domains:

  • Global Pricing, Reimbursement and Market Access
  • Contract Strategy, Operations and Compliance
  • Commercial Operations and Analytics

Crowther adds, “ALSCG helps its customers maximize revenue and optimize pricing in an outcomes-based world. We employ hundreds of professionals around the globe who help firms obtain the best value for their critical healthcare initiatives. This distinction helps bring attention to our leading set of offerings and set the stage for our customers’, and our, continued success.”