Making tenders work globally: The Pfizer approach
Tenders are an everyday part of the market access and pricing process for pharmaceutical and biotech companies. Suzanne Elvidge spoke to Nico Bacharidis, Global Tender & Contracting Lead for Established Products at Pfizer, about Pfizer's approach to global tender management.
Suzanne Elvidge: Pharma companies perceive Pfizer as a thought leader in tender management – how does Pfizer manage its tenders globally?
Nico Bacharidis: At Pfizer, we have created a global process that is used in more than 80 countries, across all regions. The aim of the process is to provide optimal support for the individual markets in their planning, management and tracking of tenders and contracts. While markets may appear to vary across the world, on closer inspection, we find that they are more similarities than differences in the tender environment and the needed capabilities to be successful.
When putting together a response to a tender, it's important to ensure that you can supply the agreed volumes and to meet all the client's needs. It is also important to clearly articulate the benefits of your product and offer to the customer. To do this, we have learned that it's impossible for a single person to win a big tender alone. It requires liaison and close coordination with many different functions to optimize the bid. For example, with manufacturing you need to confirm capacity and cost early on. Finance, pricing and market access can help to understand and approve the right prices to bid on, and marketing and medical teams can help to prepare the differentiation material. To be able to manage this, we created this cross-functional process that involves people from a wide range of areas at the right point in time.
The key success factor for all markets is to be proactive in tender planning. This includes making a concerted effort to anticipate what opportunities are coming up in the near future and in the longer term, and planning as much as possible in advance, country by country and product by product. Only if we have early visibility of what is coming, we can optimally support the markets in their bidding and negotiations.
Suzanne Elvidge: What makes Pfizer's approach to tender management different to that used by other companies?
Nico Bacharidis: Over 80 countries plan, manage and track their tenders in the same way using a global web-based tool. This has been designed to support the decision-making process across markets and functions. The information collected by the tool allows the global teams to get an overall view of what is happening worldwide, and to see the similarities and differences across the different regions, as well as helping to understand why we win or lose tenders in different markets. This global overview informs our strategies and tactics and how tenders can be better put together and managed in the future to increase our probabilities to win.
Suzanne Elvidge: How did you develop your global tender process? How can it be implemented across markets and functions?
Nico Bacharidis: We began the project around five years ago, to see what capabilities we needed to be able to improve our tender business and make us more competitive. Starting with a basic process, we worked in close collaboration with different markets and functions to develop it further, holding workshops with teams from over 20 countries. We looked at the challenges and opportunities, including finding better ways to compete for tenders. These workshops provided the building blocks we needed to create a new process.
Suzanne Elvidge: How can a global IT system support the process of tendering? How has your IT team supported you?
Nico Bacharidis: As mentioned before, the tender process involves many different functions as well as local, regional and global teams. We wanted to build a tool to support this process end-to-end and to ensure communication and data sharing amongst the different functions and markets.
The IT team has been a very important part of the implementation process, with members of the IT team present at all workshops, as well as being permanent members of the steering group. The first decision was whether the web-based tool should be built internally or bought in. Our internal IT advisors couldn't find the right product on the market at the time so we decided to build something in-house. This had the added benefit that a tailor-made solution would be a big competitive advantage and a good investment. We are still continuously learning and improving the tool.
Suzanne Elvidge: What is your advice for a company developing a global tendering process?
Nico Bacharidis: Around 25% of business in the pharma market is now coming through tenders or contracts, so it is important to get a solid process in place.
In a big, global company, in order to change processes, tools and behaviors, buy-in is very important at all levels and functions. The team included very senior people who could make decisions, as well as in-market colleagues who worked directly with customers. Introducing new processes isn't always easy, and so it's important to invest the time in the beginning to get acceptance early on, as trying to make explanations later on could cause a bottleneck. It was also crucial to convince users of the value of the tool and understand how it could meet their needs and make them more successful in their jobs.
Nico Bacharidis, Global Tender & Contracting Lead for Established Products at Pfizer will be speaking at Market Access & Pricing Excellence, June 3rd-4th 2015, Amsterdam. For more information, click here.