Enter Centric: Using Three Objectives to Make Infinite Improvements
To begin this transformation, our Chicago team worked with Pharma Logistics to document future state processes and requirements, but most importantly, envision a future state that allowed for business agility and innovation. This included thorough initial scoping sessions, legacy data review, detailed capability prioritization, risk assessments, high-level stakeholder analysis and then the development of an execution plan.
The deliverables we developed during this stage allowed us to gather the high-level understanding needed to provide a detailed and strategic plan considering risks, complexity and size (resources, time and investment). With this information, we moved into implementation, working side-by-side with Pharma Logistics to reduce manual and duplicative work across their environment.
We leveraged the depth of experience across the entire organization and worked together with this client to build and deploy a custom solution in a complex, faced-paced environment through the following key objectives:
- Create a sustainable data architecture
- Implement NetSuite to support core business functions
- Develop custom applications to streamline current business processes.
Objective 1: Creating a Sustainable Data Architecture
Implementing data governance is complex but requires business buy-in and sponsorship to succeed, making it difficult to do. We recognized data governance does best when the business drives it and focuses on providing subject matter expertise, coaching and guidance while allowing the Pharma Logistics’ internal team to own implementation.
From there, our team designed a flexible data architecture to support our client’s business processes and operations by allowing them to respond quickly to new changes, discover data issues before publishing, and update analytics without disrupting operations. This architecture established the blueprint for how the business and technology teams would communicate and created the ground rules for how systems would integrate.
Objective 2: Implementing NetSuite to Support Core Business Functions
To jumpstart the project, our team leveraged the industry’s most common NetSuite configurations as a baseline. We then implemented NetSuite ERP, CRM, lot-numbered inventory, and order management modules, establishing NetSuite as the record system for all customer transactions. On top of that, we implemented NetSuite for procurement and updated preexisting NetSuite financial and accounting processes.
We also created custom solutions where Pharma Logistics identified process areas ripe for waste reduction, including a file repository process to meet critical industry compliance standards for processing-controlled pharmaceuticals.
Now, they can consolidate jobs automatically within NetSuite at the time of invoicing instead of on the processing floor, helping to expedite timelines and reduce errors on the processing floor.
Objective 3: Developing Custom Applications to Streamline Current Business Processes
Our team also built new, custom applications for Pharma Logistics using an iterative development methodology that leverages frequent user experience and design sessions to quickly capture requirements, provide visual mock-ups and enable easy hand-offs to our development team in India. This approach allowed the client to give input early and often throughout the process, gauge overall project progress, and shift priorities to the most critical tasks during the development cycle.
These custom applications improved the efficiency of field service operations through better user experience, the ability to operate offline without internet connectivity, and more seamless data transfers to the ERP system. The custom apps also improved the efficiency of fulfillment center operations by reducing processing steps and increasing inventory accuracy.
The Results: Improving Processes in Both Technology and Business
Our high-functioning, technical project team worked with Pharma Logistics to embrace technology as a strategic driver and competitive advantage for their business.
Working across teams, our data team implemented an enterprise data model and lightweight data governance process to centralize datasets into a system of record, yielding improved data integrity and a single version of the truth. This implementation provided Pharma Logistics with real-time visibility into operational performance.
The combined teams transformed Pharma Logistics’ NetSuite environment from an accounting-only application to a full suite of ERP, CRM, and additional modules without taking the business offline for a single day. The transparency of financials eliminated waste and enabled the business to simplify data and application architecture, allowing the decommissioning of legacy applications.
Our custom application development team delivered two new applications that provided a strong foundation for strategic business growth, modernized their client’s technology stack, and increased system stability and availability. In the client’s fulfillment center, one application increased overall fulfillment center product intake of nearly six percent, with individual processor throughput almost doubling. However, this success created an unforeseen side effect.
Because Pharma Logistics focuses solely on reverse distribution, processing return good authorizations (RGAs) – a form that facilitates returns of expired or defective products – is a key part of their business model. These new applications’ increased drug return processing capabilities created a backlog of manufacturer RGAs. Transformation results exceeded the number of RGA request approvals that staff could process daily by three and half times, expanding their RGA backlog to nearly 100,000 forms.
To help Pharma Logistics truly transform for future growth, we needed to look beyond opportunities that merely automated the mundane. The solution? We leveraged their investment in the fulfillment center – a Centric-developed custom application for fulfillment staff to process returns – and enabled the app to serve a bot. We refactored the application’s return process and automated it to make it bot-friendly, eliminating three of six human interactions within the fulfillment center.
The new automated pipeline handles a daily volume over 200 percent greater than what it could before and no longer requires dedicating staff to this necessary but tedious procedure. The prior RGA process required more than 10 minutes of labor to complete – now, it only takes 40 seconds.
Proactively changing their fulfillment center software to work with a bot allowed Pharma Logistics and its staff to operate on a new level, but this was only a start. They subsequently transitioned repetitious work to the bot, allowing staff to provide greater value by focusing on more complex problems without the burden of manually intensive tasks.