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Trends in Outsourcing and Asset Management as a Service

There was a time when life science companies managed the entire lifecycle of nearly every asset in house.

by Qualer
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Biotechnical Services Inc. vanBiotechnical Services Inc. (BTS), a long-standing calibration company in San Diego, provides AMaaS through the Qualer cloud quality network.Photo courtesy of Qualer

Problem: In 1989 Peter Drucker coined the phrase “Do what you do best and outsource the rest!” Over the intervening 25 years, Drucker’s thinking has been embraced by the business world, and outsourcing ancillary functions is commonplace in the enterprise. This approach fits just as well in our industry, especially regarding maintenance in the lab. Life science companies are focused on developing breakthrough discoveries and novel therapies, not managing the regulatory compliance of hundreds (or thousands) of instruments and pieces of equipment. Though this wasn’t always the case, there was a time when life science companies managed the entire lifecycle of nearly every asset in house.

In the past, many labs were served by an in-house metrology team, they would schedule service through paper, and interoffice mail would carry it to the right department. Teams would be dispatched over radio, or a PA system, or perhaps a runner would personally deliver a work log to the repair team. While the details of their archaic work system are too long to list here, one thing is certain, it was entirely manual and owned entirely by the organization.

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Today, most work is completed by a myriad of vendors who handle EHS, validation, maintenance and repair, and calibration. Coordinating the work of these vendors—the work orders, reports, certificates, and service schedules, has largely fallen to facility and lab managers. Compounding matters, the process remains manual, disjointed, and often painful to the asset and facility owners.

Rightfully, an increasing number of life sciences companies have reached the conclusion that coordinating asset quality itself has become a distraction from their primary mission. These companies look to outsource the entire maintenance and quality function to a single third party that will design the program, work with a slate of vendors, and report results back to management. This is due to a combination of sustained budget pressures, the maturing of facilities and lab operations managers into strategic roles, and new demands for velocity and flexibility. Therefore, we see Drucker’s advice coming to fruition and asset management as a service (AMaaS) is now offered by lab management firms, and main-line service vendors.

Implementing AMaaS successfully, however, does not come without significant challenges. First of all, the proper control of asset quality will always be a core component of regulatory compliance. So improper program design runs the risk of merely re-shuffling work from facilities to the QA department. Another challenge is that outsourcing asset management often creates new data silos. This can leave management in the dark around performance, and hinder proper decision making capabilities. Lastly, just simply outsourcing to the wrong group can cost you more than being part of the process. This is because AMaaS vendors often perform the same manual and time intensive scheduling, filing, and vendor coordinating tasks in addition to managing their relationship with you. In essence, all the same work has simply been offloaded to a third party, without changing the structure or improving efficiency.

Without finding the right organization to partner with, AMaaS can remain in the realm of a premium service used primarily by large organizations that benefit from economies of scale, or by smaller hyper scaling enterprises where it’s the only option.

Solution: There is a way to bring the benefits of AMaaS to everyone. Enabled by new cloud technologies, innovative companies are offering AMaaS in a brand new way with significant cost savings and improved quality. Companies are leveraging quality networks in the cloud to empower laboratories to outsource the management of their assets with dramatic improvements in efficiency, visibility, and accountability. Quality networks provide a secure ecosystem with the asset record at the center. This allows all parties— the vendors, asset managers, and asset owners, to collaborate together around asset quality and compliance.

A great example of this new approach is Biotechnical Services Inc. (BTS), a long-standing calibration company in San Diego. BTS provides AMaaS through the Qualer cloud quality network. They leverage this technology to coordinate a collection of service providers, including their own services, and provide a complete managed solution to their customers. Their customers gain the efficiency of outsourced management and a clean window into all of the activities taking place and providing direct access to asset data and documentation for audit purposes. No data silos, no redundant data entry, and no loss of visibility for the end customer.

Business process outsourcing hasn’t slowed down since Drucker’s days, and in fact, the advent of cloud technologies is accelerating the practice. These collaborative tools provide life science companies the freedom to achieve asset management as a service without the tradeoffs of traditional outsourcing programs.

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