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The top life science companies work extensively with a network of external market and competitive intelligence (M/CI) vendors. M/CI plays a significant role in the decision making process of leading life science companies across all areas of the industry - including the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device sectors. 

Life science organizations frequently work with external vendors when they need access to specialized skills, new data sources, or any other capabilities that they don’t possess in-house. Typically, these third-party research providers will provide a wide range of competitive intelligence services, and many specialize in specific niches, like primary research. 

Some of the largest life science companies in the industry can work with as many as 30-40 approved CI vendors, so having an effective framework to manage vendor relationships is critical to the success of M/CI teams in the life sciences industry.

As experienced M/CI consultants, we’re often asked for our advice on how life science companies can most effectively manage their relationships with external M/CI vendors. 

Here are five of our top tips:

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Ultimate Guide to Competitive Intelligence in Life Sciences

Read the Ultimate Guide to Competitive Intelligence in Life Sciences

Partner With Vendors with Life Science Experience

This one almost goes without saying, but it’s critical for life sciences companies to work with partners who understand their industry. From lengthy clinical trial stages, to the strict regulatory environment, there are many additional layers of complexity in the life science industry that are uncommon elsewhere. 

In addition to the complexity of the industry environment, there’s also the question of data sourcing. The selection of relevant data sources is highly situational, and might include clinical trial data from sources like Trialtrove or filings with the FDA. The quantity of data can be overwhelming, and it’s important that vendors understand how to effectively gather, synthesize, and analyze this data to produce actionable M/CI insights.

Centralize Vendor Sourcing & Procurement

In many instances, large life science companies can find that they’ve hired the same M/CI vendor multiple times for very similar projects. When M/CI functions are decentralized, there is a lot of duplicity in how companies work with vendors. 

In a decentralized structure, M/CI professionals are located in therapeutic groups. In practice, this means one M/CI professional will work with the oncology drugs group, another will work with the infectious diseases group, and so on. This often causes breakdowns in communication and leads to a general lack of synergy between M/CI teams spread across organizations.

The approach we suggest is centralizing the M/CI function, or if that’s not possible, centralizing the vendor sourcing and procurement process. A centralized M/CI platform, like Knowledge360Ⓡ, can significantly reduce the amount of work in sourcing and procuring third party M/CI vendors, standardizing routine processes like Requests For Proposals (RFPs), Statements of Work, and other key elements of the vendor management process. 


The Ultimate Guide to Competitive Intelligence
in Life Sciences

Whether you’re just starting out in CI, or have years of experience, this guide will be a useful manual for your CI needs. 

Read the Guide


Automate Vendor Onboarding & Workflows

Starting a working relationship with a vendor might sound simple, but in reality, it’s far from it. From defining the scope of the project to sending out RFPs to having everything double checked by legal, onboarding a new vendor can be an ordeal. And because this process is reliant on so many different stakeholders, it can often take weeks or even months to start a new M/CI vendor engagement.

A more effective method is to use a centralized software system to automate this workflow and keep different stakeholders on track. This creates uniform processes and ensures everyone is accountable for making progress towards clearly defined milestones. 

This approach isn’t just limited to onboarding: you can, and should, automate as many of your regular M/CI workflows as practical. It’ll unlock new efficiencies in the way you work, and free up valuable time to spend on high-impact analysis.

Proactively Manage M/CI Vendor Progress 

Throughout any competitive intelligence consulting engagement, it’s important for life science companies to remain engaged with their M/CI vendors. Focus on creating deep, lasting partnerships, with trusting relationships and a shared vision of success. Make sure you have regular meetings to touch base with your M/CI vendor or consultants, and set up milestones with associated deliverables throughout the project. 

But take care to strike the right balance between being proactive and being overbearing. Presumably, you hired a competitive intelligence vendor because they have skills and expertise you don’t possess internally, so give the vendor the appropriate time and resources to complete the project on mutually agreed terms. 


Knowledge360: Your Intelligence Hub

Gather and Organize Market and Competitive Intelligence

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Share M/CI Findings Across the Organization

As your vendors progress with the engagement, they’ll likely uncover all kinds of M/CI insights that are of great value to your organization. But these insights, and the analysis that drives them, are only valuable if the right stakeholders in your organization have access to them and use them as inputs in their decision-making process. 

The importance of a central competitive intelligence hub that marries data, analysis, and M/CI insights into one place cannot be underestimated. By using a platform like Knowledge360, teams and stakeholders across life sciences organizations can easily access important M/CI insights in real-time. 

Knowledge360 is one of the only M/CI platforms built for this kind of collaboration, and enables you to centralize insights from external vendors and in-house M/CI professionals all on one platform.

Partnering With The Right M/CI Vendor

It’s clear that working with a competitive intelligence vendor in the life science industry can have a significant impact on your M/CI function. By working with partners who have specialized expertise, life science companies can get access to new primary research sources, sophisticated analytical techniques, and some of the sharpest minds in the industry.

By embracing these tips to more effectively work with M/CI vendors, life science organizations can enjoy better, more productive working relationships. Ultimately, this will lead to significantly better insights, which in turn better position the whole organization for commercial success. 

If your organization is considering working with a M/CI vendor, get in touch with Cipher. We’ve got experience working with the world’s leading life science companies, and our unified approach pairs experienced consultants with our industry-leading Knowledge360 platform.

To learn more about our consulting services, contact us 

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