In the past, firms in the life sciences industry took a more conservative approach to cloud-based software platforms. Even though they may not need the same level of IT resources and computing power throughout all the phases—clinical trials through commercialization—most preferred to keep an internal infrastructure at the ready anyway. That attitude is changing, as more companies understand the benefits of the cloud.
In the period leading up to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of a drug or device, most life science companies have little use for extensive in-house IT resources. With cloud solutions, data center maintenance and the synchronization of data across data centers worldwide is the responsibility of the cloud provider. This approach allows companies to use only as much of the resources they need, when they need it.
Life science companies experience a moment akin to “the big bang,” when firms go from no sales to tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. There is very little time to configure new hardware and software to accommodate such a timeline. The commercialization period is the wrong time to be implementing an enterprise-resource-planning (ERP) system, as there are so many other critical priorities. A properly implemented cloud ERP system can scale rapidly to meet the changing needs of a company during commercialization.
As volumes drive the need for automation, some cloud solutions are designed for cGMP manufacturing and handling material. To support GAMP5 validation and change control, some cloud applications provisioned an architecture to allow for customers to control the timing of updates and allow for testing before updates are applied. Some also have the ability of automated testing to rapidly confirm the systems operates as expected upon each update.
Companies in the life sciences industries use third parties (contract manufacturers, logistics providers, raw materials providers, outsourced expense report audits, etc.) extensively to run their businesses. Their enterprise-resource planning platforms have to be able to connect with members of the supply chain. A cloud-based ERP system—one with a stable application programming interface (API)—one that can withstand regularly scheduled platform upgrades — makes integration easier to implement and manage.
Cloud-based ERP systems are exceptionally well suited for life sciences firms that experience years of having very few resource-planning requirements to becoming very “needy” almost overnight. The only way to conserve pre-approval resources and ramp up quickly when the firm needs to commercialize is by leveraging the cloud. A Software-as-a-Service (cloud-based) software platform delivers all the benefits of the cloud to life sciences companies, especially those with outsourced operations.