Tag Archive for pharmaceutical

A Top 10 Pharmaceutical Leverages CorasWorks for Program Management of $200M Global Product Serialization Initiative


The pharmaceutical industry is going through a significant change in manufacturing and supply chain management driven by emerging global government mandates for them to “serialize” their products.  Each unit of product must have a unique ID that can be tracked through the full supply chain to the end user customer. This is to insure quality, to enable tracing, and also, to suppress the use of counterfeit drugs (estimated at 10% of the worlds’ drugs).  The mandates have been coming out across the globe over the last few years.  The US is on the verge of putting their “mandate” in place this year.  (Click here to learn more about pharmaceutical product serialization.)

In this article I will look at how our customer, one of the top 10 pharmaceuticals, used CorasWorks to create a Program Management solution that is used to manage their $200M global product serialization manufacturing change program.  I will also address how the process worked as this story is a great example of how customers are able to achieve breakthrough results without the risks, costs, and time delays that are common for most enterprise application projects.

The Challenge

This customer is a very large manufacturer of pharmaceuticals – one of the worlds largest.  These mandates from around the world are requiring them to update all of their manufacturing lines to support the unique ID serialization requirements for each unit that is produced.  Different mandates from different countries/regions also have different requirements.  This process will cost our customer 200 million dollars over the next five years.  They will need to upgrade more than 100 different manufacturing lines in 400 different projects around the world in more than 20 countries.

The objective of our customer was to be able to centrally manage the program across the globe.  They had a strategic team in place to drive this initiative globally.   They had very precise requirements such as:

  • They needed top down management visibility and the ability to then drill down in details.
  • They wanted to be able to see all of the projects by a) defined KPI’s for the b) defined stages of work.
  • Their process requires that each local manager provide updates on each project each month.
  •  Most projects actually had two workstreams, so two different updates, for a total of 400 managers providing updating.
  • They wanted the ability for comments for each update.
  • These updates drive the KPI’s from the bottom, up the stack.
  • There were very complex KPI roll-up calculations so that KPIs would cascade upward from the base project to the top of the Mandate, Geography, Country, Product, etc.
  • The customer then wanted to be able to see where everything stood by different pivots such as by Mandate, by Country, by Product, by Workstream, by Line within in a real time, interactive interface.

The customer had detailed, application specific requirements for the Program Management system. Yet, time was short.  Some projects were already under way, so they wanted the system relatively quickly targeting about 4 months. They had evaluated options of custom development however the cost, risk of delivery, and length of time to delivery deterred them from this option.  They also looked at leveraging other owned Project Portfolio Management systems, however, they needed very precise features and in effect this made the use of these systems as risky as custom development.

So, the challenge was how to:

  • get a Program Management system that met their very precise requirements
  • in a relatively short time frame
  • at the lowest cost possible and without “breaking the bank”
  • with an acceptable level of risk of delivery
  • that would support changes as the program evolved and lessons were learned
  • and that was acceptable to IT today and supportable over the 5 years of the program.

The Solution

This customer uses SharePoint 2010.  In fact, they are in the Top 100 of SharePoint deployments supporting more than 80,000 users across four global regions.  They have adopted an Enterprise Shared Services Environment (ESSE) model in which they have a common infrastructure that is shared across all global geographies, all business groups, and, all employees.  They have three different farms (server environments) for different categories of work.

  • The Enterprise Shared Services Environment for those applications that do not require any custom compiled code.
  • A Custom Environment that allows custom code but is much more expensive to manage.
  • A Regulated Environment that is certified for regulated processes and information such as Clinical Trials.

They have been a CorasWorks customer since 2004.  The CorasWorks  v11 Work Management Platform is part of the infrastructure on the Enterprise Shared Services Environment available to all 80,000+ users.  The complex requirements of this Program Management application were more sophisticated than just about any other application running on ESSE.  However, they believed that it might be possible to build and deploy it on ESSE.  This would mean that it would have to be created without requiring custom coding, just leveraging the CorasWorks Work Management Advanced Configuration Tools.  If it worked, it would also mean that they could meet all of the challenge criteria noted above.

Working with the customers’ Service Delivery Team for the manufacturing group (that delivers applications to that group on ESSE) we did a quick pilot to simulate the applications’ operating requirements in the ESSE environment.  This was successful and the business customer decided to go with CorasWorks software and CorasWorks Professional Services to build the application on the ESSE environment.

This was a joint application development project.  The Service Delivery Team had built other applications using CorasWorks within ESSE so they were familiar with the core capabilities of CorasWorks.  They were able to work closely with CorasWorks on the design, the requirements, the testing, and changes.  They also handled the interactions with the business group.  The teams approach was an Agile methodology with the objective of having an early working solution in place, that would be built through sprints with user input.  In sum, it was a highly collaborative project between CorasWorks, the customers’ Service Delivery Team, and the business user group.

The Result

The base application was deployed for initial testing within 60 days.  The ability to quickly get the base application with a full information data set up and running was important for real time user input and changes.  It went through a series of sprints for additional phases and changes.  In addition, the application was re-factored three times in order to accommodate the changes and stay within the specified end user performance limits.

In sum, within 5 months the system went from development to enterprise production within the ESSE environment. Comparing the results to the challenge criteria stated above, the system was delivered:

  • meeting the specified technical requirements and the ones that came up through ongoing changes
  • almost within the time frame (it actually took an extra month to finish the project due to elapsed time delays with changes, user testing, and data loading) – but the project was still 2x faster than alternatives had been estimated
  • within the specified budget – that was about half of the initial estimate for competitive alternatives
  • the risk was mitigated by the known factor of CorasWorks capabilities on the ESSE environment
  • the resulting system is fully supportable by the customers’ Service Delivery Team since it is built on the open standard CorasWorks platform
  • and IT was already supporting ESSE and CorasWorks and will continue to support it as part of their global ESSE environment

My Wrap Up

This customer now has the capability to manage the global product serialization program.  They are in a great position to work towards success.  The program, an important one for them (remember counterfeiting is 10% of drugs), is also very important to the health and safety of all of us.  By investing to put the proper, well specified, program management system in place to support their defined process they have decreased their risks and increased their probability of success because they are providing a lot more visibility which drives greater accountability for results.

The General Challenge.  Most business-driven Program Management solutions are very custom.  It is the nature of the beast.  It is also a key to competitive differentiation.  Your programs/initiatives tend to be your big value creating or risk reducing activities.  But, it is very difficult and almost counter-productive for a vendor to try and build a general product for this purpose.  There are some COTS Program Management systems, but, if you try to use them for a significant program like this one you’d have to basically rip them apart to deliver on a typical set of requirements.  The unique flexibility of the CorasWorks Work Management platform makes it a very effective way to deliver on these custom Program Management applications.  As shown in this example, effectively they used a COTS product (CorasWorks) on an existing enterprise shared services (ESSE) platform to create a very custom Program Management solution without requiring any new custom compiled code.


Customer Examples of Work Request Management apps for SharePoint

Over the last month, I’ve worked with a number of customers that are deploying applications for various scenarios of work request management.  This category of application is very common for all organizations and works great with CorasWorks on SharePoint.  It leverages the collaborative nature of a SharePoint environment and the work management feature set of CorasWorks.  The key design principal is to recognize that they are fundamentally cross-functional processes.  In this article, I’ll look at 4 different customer scenarios.  I’ll talk about what is common amongst them and how they differ.  I believe that any SharePoint Service Delivery Management team should make this category of app a staple of their offerings.  Once you get the core design pattern, you’ll find lots of applications for it.

Basic Work Request Management app

There are six core elements that are common to work request apps as follows:

  • They are an app, meaning there is a core site dedicated to this purpose vs. it being a feature added to a team site.
  • A requestor fills in a form to kick off a request.
  • The requestor can see, track, and engage with assigned “workers” on their requests.
  • Workers and Managers do various things (automated CorasWorks actions and forms) to respond to and complete the request.
  • Requestors and others are notified of activities and/or collaborated with.
  • You have reporting on the activity.

Customers Scenarios

Here are the 4 customer scenarios:.

Materials Storage for Pharmaceutical Manufacturing

This application is for requests to store chemicals (materials) within a manufacturing group.  People make their requests and others work the requests noting how long items are stored and where. Requestors are notified of the work and they get pinged when their storage expiration date is approaching.

IT Requests for SharePoint Work and Help Desk Tickets for Health Agency

This customer uses a couple of different WRM apps for IT to support the organization.  One allows users to log the requests for the SharePoint team for new sites, changes to sites, or new apps.  The SharePoint team then manages these requests.  The other is a WRM-based “Help Desk” app where users enter tickets and Help Desk folks work them.

Employee Requests of HR for Pharmaceutical

This customer is using WRM to enable employee across the enterprise to make requests of HR.  In this case, they created three request workstreams.  Each has a slightly different set of work management activities.  From the user perspective they are able to see the different requests in a single display from wherever they work.

HR Staffing Requests for Federal Contractor

An important process for many Federal Contractors is making requests of HR to find or recruit people to work on contracts.  In this case, a business development (BD) person working on a new proposal/task order makes requests of HR to staff specific positions.  The requests are related to specific Proposals/Task Orders.  However, HR manages all of the requests centrally.


All of the above follow the same basic design as described above.  People make requests.  People work on the requests.  There is back and forth.  The requests are closed out.  There is reporting.

The interesting part is that these are four very different “applications”.  In many organizations, they would presume that they would be looking to go out and buy or build completely different applications.  However, with CorasWorks on SharePoint each of these uses the same basic framework.  Thus, armed with one basic design you can now fill many different needs and save lots of time an money in the process.

Further, when you build them, the things that you will primarily change are also common:

  • The core data (fields) of the “work request” list are different.
  • The request form is different.
  • The worker roles are specific to the process.
  • The app navigation is different.
  • The displays and most importantly the worker/manager actions, work forms, and notifications are different.
  • Reports are different.

With CorasWorks, each of the above is easily modified using our wizards.  So, you have a common app design and you know the common things that you will be changing to accommodate the specific needs of the app.  If you look at it like an assembly line, you are all set to deliver.

Key Deployment Differences of the Apps

While the four apps have many core commonalities, there are differences in the overall deployment approach across the SharePoint environment.  This is important because work request management is fundamentally a cross-functional collaborative process.  Thus, where people go to engage, whether requestor, worker, or manager, can be different based upon the scenario.


In the Materials Storage app, all of the different users work in a single app site.  Requestors go there to make their requests.  Workers go there to do their work.  Managers go there to manage.  This makes it easier to create the app and is the way you would typically start.  However, it is not really a best practice given the ability to distribute functionality using CorasWorks.


In the IT Request app, the Requestors don’t go into the app app site to make requests.  They are able to be elsewhere across the SharePoint environment and enter their requests from their and see their requests and interact.  This makes it more convenient for the users.  Generally, you start by building the app as an All-in-one and then just distribute the displays.

Many Projects to Work Management Team (Hub and Spoke)

The HR Staffing app is a bit different.  In this specific scenario, you have many Proposal/Task Order sites (or could be project sites).  A team is working on these projects.  They enter their requests from the site.  However, the HR Work Request site is central – all of the requests feed into the one app.  HR is then able to manage it all in one place and interact with the requestors via their project sites.  This ends up as a Hub and Spoke deployment.


The Employee request design is different also.  In this case, there is a self-service page in the enterprise portal.  Users go to this one place and enter and see their requests across the three types.  The requests are funneled into the three different workstreams managed by HR.  HR is also able to work on them via a single display.

Getting You Spun Up for Work Request Management

The work request management category of app is a staple of SharePoint environments that have gone past basic site centric content sharing.  We often work with customers to train up their SDM teams to deliver this category of app.  We have a standard set of templatized apps and training to help get you going quickly.  Email support@corasworks.net for more information.


New Cim v2.0 Jump Start Enablement approach Accelerates Innovation on SP2010

With Cim v2.0, we have moved our solution for SharePoint 2010 from an app for Idea and Innovation Management to being an enterprise platform for innovation applications.  Initially, we delivered most of our customers directly working primarily with the business groups.  Now, we have a new model where we can work with IT and partners to turn them into enablers that empowers them to deliver multiple applications as part of their overall innovation initiative – we call it Jump Start Enablement.

Over the last 2 weeks, I’ve personally been involved in an implementation using this new model for UCB, a $5b, 8,000 person, bio-pharmaceutical, headquartered in Belgium.  In this article, I’ll walk through this implementation and the new Jump Start Enablement approach.  In effect, this is a story of how we were able to go from bare metal to an implemented system with pilots for two business groups in 8 days.

Our Customer

UCB is a very innovative $4b+ bio-pharmaceutical company with 8,000 employees and operations in more than 40 countries.  They focus on providing solutions to people and families for illnesses, such as epilepsy, that you have to learn to live with.  The way they say it is:

“At UCB our sense of purpose is to help people suffering from severe central nervous system or immunological disorders lead normal, everyday lives.”


They are very patient-centric, looking for solutions to make life better for these people.

We did our on-site work at their 24 hectare campus in Braine l’Alleud about 20 minutes south of Brussels, Belgium.


The Implementation

They wanted to implement an innovation system for the organization on SharePoint 2010.  Their approach is to have an innovation system that is a platform used to deliver many different social business processes across the organization that drive innovation.  This differs from wanting just a single app, say to do just idea crowd sourcing campaigns.  This fits into Cim v2.0 and our new Jump Start Enablement approach.

They have been using SharePoint for about a year.  They just migrated to SharePoint 2010 in the last few weeks.  The innovation system is the first major business focused solution on top of the new environment.

Our core team consisted of people from CorasWorks (the vendor), from UCB IT (the customer), and from Deloitte-Belgium (partner supporting their SharePoint implementation and innovation initiative).  

Below are members of the core team at work at the Braine l’Alleud facility.  We then incorporated representatives from two business groups in our process.  Braine-l'Alleud-20110302-00033-crop


There are four core phases to our Jump Start Enablement approach:

  • Preparation
  • Jump Start
  • Onramp
  • Enablement



During the sales cycle, we worked with each of the different players to understand their goals and objectives.  As part of preparation we then map their objectives into the Jump Start Enablement process.  There are about 10 different implementation approaches with Cim v2.0.  They range from simple one app solutions, like crowd-sourcing, to different types of platform approaches such as the one at UCB where you will be bringing up multiple applications that can be separately managed by individual business process owners, but, that are all part of a single system.


Jump Start

In the span of 4 days last week, we did our initial Cim Jump Start.  This is the technical piece to get them up and running. Working virtually with the IT tech team in Belgium, we started with a bare metal server and installed the Cim stack of Windows/SQL, then SharePoint 2010 Enterprise, then CorasWorks v11, then Cim v2.0.  At that point we do a validation exercise – what we call a walkthrough.  

Then, we implement what we call a Base Reference Implementation (BRI) of Cim.  BRI’s are off-the-shelf generic configurations that match to their defined implementation model.  By Friday, we were able to do a workout of the working BRI on their servers. A workout is a standardized set of steps to run items through a business process from ideation, to management, to downstream execution.  Thus, 4 days from bare metal to a working system that is able to be used.



On Monday I was in Belgium with a colleague to do the on-site part of the process.  We ran our Enablement process.  It is an intense, highly collaborative, three day process. 

On Day 1, we start by validating their general objectives, learning a bit about their business and then educating them a bit about Cim.  We then do a walkthrough of the existing system, basically showing the flow, as we work items through the process.

Day 2 is where the rubber meets the road.  It is intense.  We bring in the business groups (there were two) and we do an Onramp sprint.  This is a process of showing the business groups the generic process, then getting changes for their application, and then implementing them. This is done in real time, in a matter of hours. Each iteration is called a sprint following the agile methodology.  Significantly, CorasWorks doesn’t do the changes, but, our customer/partners make the changes.  In effect, it is a side-by-side hands on training, with real business people driving requirements.  Intense, a bit wild, and lots of coffee.

There are two things that enable this process to work.  First, the BRI is up and running already and is working, in fact, it could be used as is.  Second, is that with Cim v2.0, it is very easy to change things using our configuration Wizards.  This is important for the Onramp process and in the future as changes are required, which they always are, and new applications are launched.  The extensive flexibility of Cim, based upon the 8 years of CorasWorks products making this easy to do on SharePoint, is key to enabling quick changes to business processes. 

Our implementation with UCB was interesting because they had been capturing ideas in various other ways, from native SharePoint to Excel, to third party idea capture/crowdsourcing tools.  Part of our process was to migrate these ideas into the new Cim apps, instantly taking raw ideas and making them part of a robust social business process.  Pretty cool in a day.

We document the overall system changes and each of the business apps that we delivered in what we call Application Worksheets.  This documents the “knobs we turned”, the metadata changes, the branding, UI changes, navigation, etc.  It is the blueprint for each app for each business group used by IT.



During Day 2, our customer/partners have learned a lot.  But, it is learning under pressure.  On Day 3, we settle down.  We do core training towards two objectives: how to maintain, customize and extend the system, and, the process for them to onramp business groups/applications.  We explain our onramp methodology and provide them with working tools.  We are effectively enabling them as an enterprise services organization to serve the needs of their internal customers.

The enablement is further supported by global CorasWorks support, the CorasWorks Community online environment, and, our specialized online Cim Learning Center.  The Learning Center provides the documentation, articles, and self-service videos, tutorials, cheat sheets etc. to re-enforce the learning they have done and drive them further.


Some Notes about this Implementation

- With UCB and Deloitte, the entire process was done in 8 days.  That is unusually fast.  Normally, this process spans a month.  However, the UCB team and the business groups were very organized, very focused, motivated, collaborative and highly competent.  The resources and people had all scheduled their time and showed up ready to work.  Thus, we didn’t miss a beat.  Usually, quite a bit of time is required to gain alignment, coordinate schedules.  In fact, we usually deliver the whole process virtually to accommodate the gaps that occur.  When, we can do it in a focused way, however, it is much more efficient and effective. 

-  Usually, we would just use one business group and one application to start with.  Onramping two business groups, both in the same room during Day 2, makes it chaotic and a challenge.  However, the good part is that you do get very useful “real time innovation” by the cross-fertilization across the business groups.  The learning is accelerated as they see how and where we recommend changes to the other business group based upon the requirements.  Normally, this type of learning session is done, but, after the initial application for one business group is deployed as the initial pilot.

- Demand Manager: UCB’s IT has a model with a “demand manager”.  This individual works with the business groups on applications.  This person was part of the team.  Our Onramp process is designed for this type of person.  They can then use our base process to create a standardized approach for onramping new business groups or adding new applications.  This scales the usefulness of the system as well as providing governance and standards.

- Business Process Emergence: In some situations, business groups have their process all mapped out in detailed visios, spreadsheets, etc.  But, they don’t know how this translates into the UI and model of the tool they are using.  Again, the key is that we start with a BRI so they can see and experience the tool, and, the flexibility of Cim to be changed real time.  In effect, most business groups start to understand and evolve their process real time as they see it, work with it hands on, and discuss it.  This is the real power – software that you mold to your needs real time as you get smarter, clearer, and see what works.  Bottom line is that Cim is a great tool to use to “bake out” your business process.  You don’t need to have all of the answers up front, in fact, that is usually overkill.  Let the tool help you get there.



I’d like to thank the UCB and Deloitte folks that were part of this fun and world-wind 8 day process.  It sets a high standard for future implementations.  For others, the key is that this new Jump Start Enablement process is a solid way to move forward for enterprise services enablement on SharePoint 2010.  It is designed to empower IT, partners, centers of excellence to make our innovation system a platform you use that drives innovation and social business processes across your organization.