ERP for the Pharmaceutical Industry

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Managing a pharmaceutical company is far from an easy task, especially as it’s one of the most complex and highly regulated industries of today. In this article, we will take a closer look at how to choose the best ERP for anyone operating in the pharmaceutical industry.

Increase Productivity with ERP

As with most other industries, pharmaceutical companies are also expected to continuously increase their productivity, streamline their operations and optimize their competitive advantages. 

However, it’s not effective to oversee and handle this all manually. Rather, modern pharma companies are now deploying ERP solutions to aid with processes such as sales functions, batch production, quality assurance, inventory control and accounting. If you’re currently on the market for an ERP, these are likely to be your most predominant challenges:

  • Gaining a complete overview of your processes
  • Compete tracking of batches
  • Increase flexibility in the production process
  • Make supply chain and distribution collaboration more efficient

These challenges can all be addressed and overcome with the right software. 

You see, an ERP solution should be the skeleton of your business. While it might not be visible to others, it’s actually the very thing keeping your business up and running on a daily basis. Managing a pharma company is far from an easy task, and you’re expected to be in complete control of areas such as process-based manufacturing, discrete manufacturing, product traceability, supply chain planning, quality control, inventory and HR/payroll.

This can be tricky for even the most modern company. Luckily, an ERP can be the exact solution to your problem. 

Enterprise Resource Planning software will include modules covering your every need, including

  • Accounting
  • Inventory
  • Purchasing
  • Supply Chain
  • Manufacturing
  • Reporting

When used correctly, this means that virtually every department will be positively affected by having an ERP solution that can pull all your processes together. In the long run, this can lead to increased efficiency, improve productivity, streamline workflows and decrease production costs. 

Before we take a look at how to choose an ERP system, we must first consider what type of pharmaceutical company you run. For the sake of simplicity, we have boiled these needs down to pharmaceutical manufacturers and pharmaceutical distributors, as these two groups operate under different legal legislations. 

Finding ERP for Pharmaceutical Manufacturers

Here at YourShortlist, we have been recommending ERP software such as Oracle, SAP or Microsoft Dynamics to those running pharma manufacturing plants. This is due to the fact that these software solutions are robust enough to handle the full manufacturing process – from controlled batch records and product genealogy to distribution. In other words, these solutions offer a complete overview and traceability. 

Additionally, pharma manufacturers rely on having flexible software solutions. As most pharmaceutical companies often operate in more than one country, it means that they must also deal with a wide range of legislation. As a manufacturer, it’s absolutely imperative that you have a software flexible enough to cater to the varying legislations. 

While these solutions require a solid upfront investment, we still recommend them for those operating in industries as highly regulated as pharma. 

Finding ERP for Pharmaceutical Distributors

A pharmaceutical distributor, while still operating under state legislations, will not be as closely regulated as manufacturers. And as there are plenty of solutions that will let you create a manufacturing record and trace product genealogy, you will have a bit more room to choose the best solution for you. 

This means that we can now look at more agile and cloud-based ERP products, such as NetSuite, Sage or Dynamic365. For example, NetSuite (which has now been acquired by Oracle) is considered a good choice for many mid-sized pharma distributors these days, and here at YourShortlist we have seen a clear increase in the amount of pharma companies asking directly for this system.

How to Choose an ERP Solution?

An ERP Pharmacy Management solution is designed to ease the manual workflow of your company, and it can dramatically improve the way your business is currently being operated. 

By implementing ERP for the pharmaceutical industry, you will benefit from an increased transparency in all business processes, streamlining manual workflows, a reduction of man-made errors, and experiencing the ability to predict and optimize operating costs. An ERP also aids with easy data management – it can track and simplify the stock process all the way from the initial ordering through the expiry date. Lastly, it can automate the more tedious tasks related to accounting, sales and billing. 

Here’s a quick overview of some of the most popular ERP modules requested by pharma companies: 

  • Inventory Management: The ideal ERP solution can mirror the real-time inventory situation in your company, thereby allowing you to project shortages in advance.
  • Supplier overview: This module can give you a complete overview of your suppliers, including past supplier purchase history. 
  • Price lists and order analysis
  • Alerts of items nearing expiry: This overview can also send out automatic messages regarding the destruction of expired medicines. 
  • Data and reporting modules: It can show you the report of all transactions for a specific partner, product or period. In addition, it can provide stock report, sales reports and batch overview. 

When combined, these benefits can bring profitability to your organisation. 

Unfortunately, it can be both challenging and time-consuming to find the right software solution for your company. Luckily, we have gathered a few guidelines that can get you started. 

  • What do you need? Firstly, we recommend that you map out your requirements – and the full regulations you’re operating under. Which ERP modules are absolutely necessary? Which modules would you like as an addition? And, most importantly, what do you want to achieve by bringing in this type of software?
  • What does your budget look like? Will the amount allocated  be enough to cover the expenses? Or are you considering settling for a less good, but more affordable alternative? We recommend that you read our guide to CapEx and OpEx here.
  • Do you have enough time? Rome wasn’t built in a day – and neither was your ERP solution. In order to achieve implementation success, you will need to delegate the appropriate amount of time to the task of deploying the software. Setting up a new ERP solution can be time-consuming if not planned correctly, as it will include training, configuration and the time spent on the integration itself. 

The complexities of the pharma industry means that there’s no one-size-fits-all ERP system. This is why it’s absolutely essential that you map out your needs, requirements and challenges before you start shopping for a new solution. What’s right for your competitor might not be right for you. 

Do you still find it challenging to navigate the ERP market? Drop us a message on our contact page, and one of our ERP consultants will get back to you as soon as possible. YourShortlist offers free, unbiased IT buying advice to companies in the UK – get in touch today and see how we can help you!