Medicine, pills and thermometer on medical tray
BJ Birtz - VP Life Sciences

Overcoming Scalability Challenges in the Life Science Industry

  • Blog
  • Life Sciences and Pharma
  • Procure to Pay

Over the past year, there has been more focus on the life sciences and pharmaceutical industries than any time in recent memory. Life sciences organizations are looking to minimize waste in their spend while growing their businesses to meet modern challenges. Vaccine development has offered pharmaceutical companies large and small the chance to launch themselves into the national conversation. In order to rise to the challenge, whether increasing the overall organization size or simply diverting resources to specific research teams, you need tools that can support and facilitate growth.

As you look to scale, you’ll likely encounter some major roadblocks. We outlined six of them in our white paper, 6 Challenges Impacting Scalability in Life Sciences and How to Overcome Them, and provided a sneak peek below.

Maverick Buying

Maverick spend – making purchases outside of procurement policies or contracts – is one of the quickest ways to blow the budget, especially within R&D departments. With online shopping more popular than ever, many organizations are struggling with maverick spend they thought they had conquered. Within research, tail spend becomes extremely hard to manage as PIs need specific items that aren’t always easy to find, or might be unknown to procurement. The result is that all of the work the procurement team spent negotiating contracts and bulk pricing is out the window.

So how do you minimize off-contract spend? One of the most important things you can do is to make compliance with procurement policies as easy as possible. By providing shoppers with an intuitive, easy to use platform, and putting contracted items front and center, you decrease the motivation to shop in other locations. You’ll also need a tool that can handle complex scientific purchases. Guided buying solutions specifically designed for scientific and research-focused organizations can give you a huge leg up in keeping all of your purchasing in one system and on contract. It’s important to ensure that your technology solution has been built with researchers in mind.


Many growing organizations struggle with essential compliance, both with contracts and with internal and governmental regulations. In the drug development space, and especially for those organizations that have been working toward vaccines for the Coronavirus, adhering to regulations has been crucial. The primary cause is simply a lack of transparency. Automatic compliance monitoring helps ensure that your workflows, catalogs and renewals are managed properly. Proactive notifications will help you fix any compliance issues quickly. Advanced compliance systems can even automatically de-list noncompliant suppliers and prevent anyone within your organization from purchasing from them.


Bundling is an essential step to decreasing expenses and leveraging economies of scale. By bundling your purchases – and especially specialty items like scientific equipment – you can negotiate better prices across the board. This bargaining power can be invaluable, as it can also extend beyond just bottom line pricing and also apply to terms and conditions, such as order priority, expedited delivery and more. Using a single system for purchasing can help prove this bargaining power, and help improve it by automatically directing orders for similar items to one supplier.

Risk Management

You need supplier relationships you can rely on. You don’t want your research held up because you were unable to get certain equipment, tools or reagents from your suppliers. This has been clearer than ever during COVID-19. When PPE and medical suppliers spiked in demand, many suppliers were left unable to fulfill their buyers’ demands and many life sciences organizations were at a standstill.


A robust procure to pay suite can monitor a supplier’s performance to help you make smarter decisions about who to buy from and how to distribute your orders. That way you can keep from becoming overly reliant on a single supplier that could have a disruption and cause delays in your research and drug development.


Modern accounting standards have made accurate, timely financial reporting a must. Operating on an accrual basis, it’s vital to account for expenses that have been incurred but not yet invoiced. Without proper financial transparency, you’ll end up with discrepancies in reporting.

By storing all of your invoice data, including deadlines, dates and payment discounts, in one central tool, you can increase visibility and decrease disagreements. With supplier communications tracked in the same P2P system, you have access to all the data you need for accurate, up to date reporting, helping finance close the monthly books more quickly and keeping your business operations consistent.

Spend Optimization

Big data is everywhere in modern business. For procurement teams, big data represents an opportunity to take the organization to the next level, analyzing every dollar spent and making more accurate decisions at the click of a button. Having accurate, transparent data is a prerequisite for all of this.

With clear insights into spend, performance and compliance, you’re able to not only analyze gaps in your supply chain but also to run “what-if” scenarios that help determine the best strategies for the future. The value of a P2P system is that it lets you track and analyze all of this data in one place, making it that much easier to improve and iterate on your procurement approach.

Opportunities at Hand

Managing your workflow, and particularly chemical reagents and research materials, from day one is crucial. Providing the transparency to show researchers what materials are on hand keeps them from purchasing redundant materials, and more importantly saves on the disposal of expired chemicals. Disposing of chemicals costs an average of three to five times more than purchasing it in the first place, and most organizations aren’t even tracking this as a KPI. A proper chemical management process as part of your P2P suite can save over 20% on chemical reagent costs.

JAGGAER’s procure to pay suite is specially designed for life sciences and research materials, making it a perfect fit for growing organizations. eProcurement, Inventory Management and Invoicing perfectly combine to take your organization to the next level. One customer in the healthcare space called JAGGAER a “critical tool for procurement growth” and said, “This has been instrumental in our company’s ability to scale our procurement operations.”*

cover of 6 Challenges Impacting Scalability in Life Sciences

Want to learn more about the challenges life sciences teams face due to a lack of transparency? Download the full white paper.

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