Technology Transformation – PharmaTech


Phlexglobal is a mid-tier PharmaTech business who help their clients manage clinical trials via their applications and platforms. Bought by Vitruvian PE in late 2016, the business has been on a consistent technology transformation path to move from a licensing approach to a SAAS model. In late 2017, DWG was engaged to review the technology side of the business and enable a transformation of that function.

While the organisation had a strong commercial proposition, an enviable client base (supporting 50 of the world’s top pharma companies), was operating in a growth market and had a strongly defendable position, the costs of operation were too high due to the traditional license model it had pursued. It was also finding scaling difficult because of the uniqueness the ‘license instances’ through extensive customisations. In the short-term, this was compounded due to the departure of the IT functions leadership.

DWG was engaged to solve two problems:

  • 1. Provide immediate IT leadership to stabilise the function and ensure business continuity for clients.

  • 2. Create and deliver a suitable technology transformation to solve the core issues in the technology side of the business.

The first priority was the appointment of a senior member of our Technology & Security team to step in as the interim CIO. Providing day-to-day leadership for the team, a rapid audit of the function, and its product delivery processes. This allowed the development of a 90-day remediation plan. Agreed by the board this produced stability and protected business continuity.

Focus then switched to solving fundamental business issues.

Using insights from the audit, the strategic ambitions of the business and working with other senior members of the management team, a new technology and data strategy was created for the business. A core tenant being the transition from a traditional license approach to a SAAS platform to alleviate the uniqueness of instances, reduce costs and drive simpler scaling.

The strategy was supported by an agile creation process to speed up delivery and responsiveness. With additional changes in the human capital of the function to reduce costs and increase flexibility.

The technology transformation has delivered the following benefits:

  • The move from license to SAAS has reduced costs, improved scaling and proposition depth for conversion and control

  • A re-architected product and technical environment that leverages cloud services for scaling and resilience

  • The move from an on-premise data centre and network to a secure 3rd party collocated facility has improved security and compliance, critical for this regulated business

  • The introduction of Agile development processes and tooling across the business has enhanced responsiveness and the speed of production

  • Quarterly product delivery cadence, while fixing core product issues, has maintained quality while allowing the controlled transition from ‘license’ to ‘SAAS’

  • A restructured technology team, including the establishment of an offshore development partner, has provided flexibility, resilience and a lower cost of operation

Ultimately improving delivery speed, enabling faster scaling, reducing costs, and laying the foundations for stronger innovation.

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Technology Transformation

Team Leader
Technology, Data and Infosec

David Ball