”For the introduction of a new medicine or drug, our marketing and sales managers used to work with different IT applications, such as Lotus Notes databases, or Excel,” reports Sandoz project management Bruno Haas. “We therefore wanted to implement a standardized marketing tool and offer executive managers just one single point of entry, so that they can access important data more easily and manage it more effectively.” Together with Sandoz GmbH, the Austrian SAP consultants CNT Management Consulting developed an SAP R/3 tool that supports product launches in international markets. The new system is used at Sandoz’s company headquarters in Vienna, and in the future will be used by subsidiaries in more than 60 countries.
Data security in a global network
There are two parts to the new solution: a planning tool (Acyclic Forecast Request, aFC), which is used to forecast the sales across the world in a standardized and clear way for the market introduction of new products, and an administrative tool (Product Request Form, PRF), which simplifies the handling of the required licensing procedure for product launches. The system offers the Sandoz executive board better marketing administration and control. “An additional aim of the SAP R/3 application developed with CNT was to ensure better data security, and considerably improve the quality of planning in the medium term,” states Bruno Haas. A German-language version of the marketing tool is used in Austria, and an English-language version is implemented in the international subsidiaries.
The integration of previously separate data into one central system also made it possible to define specific profiles for individual products or individual markets, and to update these at the touch of a button. As a result, it is now much easier to compare product portfolios in the various countries. The data can be accessed around the clock. The company divisions in all countries can call up the information online 24 hours a day, across all time zones.
One-stop sales planning
”Before we introduce a new product in a new country, we need accurate market data. We need to take account of specific, regional features, determine the probable requirement quantity, and make forecasts about the future demand for medicines and drugs,” says Haas of the requirements the company needs to meet. On the basis of this data, existing products are developed further or adapted for particular markets. “The new forecasting tool collects and consolidates the estimates for the individual markets. They provide a great deal of information and are also used as a criterion for business decisions,” says the Sandoz project manager. The “acyclical” forecast provides more up-to-date predictions than the sales estimates adapted once a year as part of cyclical five-year planning.
Every sales manager in the 60 or so countries in which the products are distributed fills out the “acyclical forecast requests” for particular active ingredients at the request of the Sandoz executive board. The sales manager enters the expected sales prices and the estimated sales quantities of planned “finished product make-up”, for example. The finished product make-up combines a number of details, which relate to the chemical substance in the pharmaceutical product, the dosage, and the packaging form. The Sandoz executive board checks the incoming data and then releases it with an electronic signature. In principle, electronic releases are provided for each individual step, that is to say each time a finished product make-up is defined, launch data is defined, sales estimates are entered, or estimates are sent to the executive board. This step-by-step release procedure offers additional security. The integrated monitoring function provides an overview of the current processing status of the individual processes, which is available at all times. A reporting function can be used to summarize the most important data for sales figures and planned product launches in the individual markets.
Retaining an overview during the product launch
In addition to this, CNT programmed and implemented an administrative tool in SAP R/3 that supports the market launch of new pharmaceuticals and the registration processes. The preparation time for obtaining approval from the authorities and introducing a new pharmaceutical product is generally several years. It is the task of the responsible launch manager to ensure that the necessary activities are carried out at particular points in time. The individual processes are documented with the help of forms, each of which is sent through a “certification sequence”. Depending on the type of form and certification process involved, the certification sequence involves a number of people responsible for certain areas, for example, a launch manager, registration manager, patent manager or supply chain manager. The required forms are available in the new administrative tool PRF.
Some of the required information must be entered in the PRF forms by hand, other information can be loaded from other SAP applications, for example, market estimates can be loaded from the Acyclic Forecast Request. Manual entry is necessary if a finished product make-up has not yet been created at the time of cyclical or acyclical planning. Guidelines dictating when a form has to be filled out must be followed. The certification sequence needed for each form is also supported by an electronic signature. E-mails containing requests for signature are sent to the managers responsible for approval. An integrated reminder function reminds the people responsible after a certain period of time, if they have failed to provide the signature by then. A traffic light system using red, yellow, and green symbols makes it easy to track the status of the whole situation, at a glance and across all forms.
“The implementation of PRF and aFC in SAP R/3 offers a clear advantage: information is stored centrally in one system and can be exchanged between all the people involved in the process in the various countries and the company headquarters. Time-consuming typing in of data from one system to another is no longer necessary. In addition, the single point of entry provides optimized tracking and controlling of processes,” states Haas. “If further SAP applications are developed to supplement this in the future, the integrated exchange of data can be further improved and rounded out.”