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Quick Guide to Strategic Planning for Life Sciences

Dawn Faint

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December 11, 2018

From pharmaceuticals to medical devices, life sciences is a complex and highly competitive industry. With increasing disruption and rapid evolution of the industry, strategic planning for life sciences requires modern technology, consistent monitoring and a mix of both long-term and short-term objectives.

Don't get caught by surprise. To avoid disruptions and provide your company with the information it needs to identify and respond to threats in its business model, you need to be able to reduce uncertainty and strategize effectively. Here are the top strategies you should focus on this year to broaden your scope and add value to your organization.

Scenario Planning

Scenario planning, and in particular, wargaming, is a strategic exercise that allows your team to gain unique insight by putting yourself in your competitors' shoes, anticipating their potential actions and reactions, and developing a more informed plan for the future. To practice wargaming for your organization, ask yourself:

  • How would your competitors respond to a given market disruption?
  • How would that disruption change the market environment at large?
  • Which trends are currently shaping our industry?
  • How can we capitalize on those trends moving forward?

Questions like these, which anticipate market shifts and competitor actions, can help your organization stay one step ahead. Consider high-level market drivers as well as micro trends, and prioritize your response to these trends based on the likelihood of occurrence and the potential impact on your strategy. Use data and competitive intelligence technology to inform your scenario planning and continuously monitor for indicators of changing market conditions.

Indicator Warnings

Indicators, such as unique investments, facility acquisitions, patent applications or new alliances, are quantifiable metrics that you can use to measure and predict disruptions in your market. They point to greater trends, like the emergence of a new dominant technology, the changing composition of the workforce or environmental forces. By tracking these metrics early on, you can develop a plan to counteract the disruption before it happens.

Gather and track metrics through competitor profiles, pattern analysis, supply chain analysis, financial analysis and more. The right automation software for competitive and market intelligence can help you streamline this process, monitor these trends over time, and buy you more time to react when you notice a threatening trend.

Early Warning Programs

Once you've identified specific trends, potential threats and key indicators of disruption, develop both strategic and tactical recommendations to present to your senior management. Outline all of their options and opportunities, and develop both short-term and long-term contingency plans to proactively mitigate threats and take advantage of emerging opportunities.

For example, if cost pressures on the medical devices market mean that stakeholders are looking to shift to less invasive options such as alternative/non-surgical options, a potential disruption in the market could come in the form of a new non-surgical treatment modality. In this case, you'd want to start monitoring for indicators of this new technology coming onto the market (patent applications, strategic hires, etc.) and develop strategic action plans for how to adjust course to stay ahead in your market.

Getting to know your senior management before you present your strategic recommendations is critical for successful adoption of your early warning program. Who are the key decision makers? When do they prefer to be reported to? What format is most easily digestible? Creating consolidated, standardized and periodic reports in a format that your stakeholders can quickly and easily understand is essential for providing real value through actionable recommendations.

Growth Opportunities

Identifying and mitigating threats goes hand-in-hand with identifying opportunities for company growth. Strategic planning in the life sciences industry doesn't always have to be about avoiding negative outcomes; investing in positive outcomes is a win for your company as well.

To continue with the medical devices example we provided above, you could develop a plan for your company to move into this new market of alternative/non-surgical options once this has been identified as a potential market disruptor. If your company offers a solution that integrates with this new trend, or leads the way down this path, you have now created be an opportunity to capitalize on the disruption.

By employing the same competitive intelligence strategies you use to identify threats, you can also discover new markets, new products, new partnerships and new investment opportunities for your company. Steering your company away from negative outcomes and into better opportunities is a great way to add value to your organization.

Fuel Your Strategy With the Right Technology

Monitoring market trends regularly and comprehensively is impossible for one person to do manually. Streamline this process and add more time to your day by fueling your strategy with technology that gathers this data for you. With consistent monitoring, strategic planning and cutting-edge competitive intelligence tools, you can maximize your company's potential and drive innovative results for your business.

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Dawn Faint
Dawn Faint

Dawn helps companies in the Life Sciences space map their competitive environment, develop intelligence strategies which identify risks, and position them for future growth. Prior to joining Cipher, Dawn worked for many years in the Healthcare space in leadership roles at Cigna, Schering-Plough, Pharmacia (now Pfizer) and Johnson & Johnson companies Ortho Biotech and Ortho-McNeil, and in the Management Consulting space for Right Management.

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