What Drives Operational Performance in Biopharma Clinical R&D?

By Michael RingelValery PanierMaria DenslowLorenna Buck, and Ulrik Schulze

Amid declining productivity in R&D, biopharmaceutical companies are more focused than ever on the operational performance of their clinical development efforts. But there is little in the way of hard evidence about what factors distinguish the best-performing clinical development operations. Absent such insight, companies rely on anecdotal information to design clinical development reorganizations—an approach that can lead to missed opportunities and wasted resources.

To zero in on the factors that drive strong clinical development operational performance, The Boston Consulting Group and KMR Group conducted a benchmarking study of 14 biopharma companies whose combined 2014 R&D spending exceeded $50 billion. The goals of the effort: to understand the variation in the operational performance of clinical development efforts in terms of efficiency, speed, and quality and to identify the factors that drive superior performance.

The work uncovered eight factors that are associated with improved performance, including a consolidated geographic footprint and a preference for a function-based organization structure. The findings, published in the March 2016 issue of Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, can be a powerful tool for biopharma companies aiming to boost the overall productivity of their R&D efforts.