Connectivity without boarders: Maximising customer success through cross-site collaboration

06th Sep 2023

Author: Sam Brogan, Head of Research and Development

Since Sterling began expanding its global footprint in 2019, starting with the acquisition of our North Carolina, US site, we have been committed to working together and aligning our culture across our facilities.

Our sites work together to ensure we deliver the best possible services to our customers, drawing on each site’s areas of expertise and ensuring that transitioning projects between our global facilities is a seamless experience. For example, our Wisconsin, US facility delivers robust capabilities in high potency APIs, while our Dudley, UK facility can support highly specialised hazardous chemistry requirements.

Our focus on global connectivity surfaces in many forms, from the Learning Labs we hold to share project updates and brainstorm innovative approaches across sites, to regular meetings among our global executive team to align on strategies, global departmental meetings to discuss challenges and success stories, and more. Site visits and in-person collaboration are also integral to maintaining a unified global network.

As Head of Research and Development at our Dudley, UK site, I traveled to the US last year to spend 10 weeks at our North Carolina site. My goal was to further align our processes, exchange best practices and foster an even more seamless experience for our customers. Read on to explore some key takeaways from my time in the USA.

Proactively considering late phase priorities

Cary, North Carolina facilityThe North Carolina site specialises in preclinical and early phase clinical development, whilst  our  Dudley and Wisconsin sites are able to support projects throughout the entire lifecycle, including large-scale manufacture. As a result, one of the most common cross-site transfers we see at Sterling involves bringing early phase projects from North Carolina to our Dudley or Wisconsin facilities as they progress into later phases of the lifecycle.

During my time in North Carolina, I engaged with a specific project that was set to move to Dudley as it scaled. I oversaw process development for this project to ensure that the equipment and operations required would fit in seamlessly with our resources at Dudley, while sharing my perspective with the team at North Carolina in order to maximise continuity.

We consider these factors during initial process development in any project so that we can ensure we have a robust process in place, which is suitable as a project scales and moves across sites. By working together with the team on-site, I had the opportunity to see the process firsthand and envision its transition to Dudley. This allowed me to provide informed feedback and insight that would aid the North Carolina team not only in this project, but in future projects that were set to scale-up at Dudley or Wisconsin.

Making life easier for customers

While Sterling provides expertise in both internal and external technology transfers, transferring knowledge becomes even easier when project information is presented in the same format. Part of my focus in North Carolina was further strengthening our methodology for documentation and report standardisation. We have long used a common template across Sterling, but I held collaborative discussions with the team at North Carolina to further optimise this standard by calibrating on level of detail and aligning with customer expectations. This is especially important as we acquire more sites, as it enables us to further simplify the transfer process and ensure our team and our customers are always on the same page. We put ourselves in our customers’ shoes and discussed exactly what a customer would be looking to learn from a given report, then optimised our approach accordingly.

In addition, our transfer process prevents customers from relaying the same information to different parties or duplicating efforts. Team members from our global facilities directly consult with one another during tech transfer, which isn’t often possible when transferring a project across different organisations. In turn, scientists who are already experienced in the process can continue providing support and guidance as the project scales. With consistent project details securely contained within our Sterling network, we move knowledge seamlessly throughout relevant parts of the organisation, mitigate burden on the customer and avoid project delays that can result from missing knowledge.

Aligning our culture

Part of making life easier for our customers involves fostering one, consistent culture across all of our facilities. I quickly found that this was not a difficult task, as the cultures at North Carolina and Dudley were already tightly aligned. The team at North Carolina live out our core values—be caring, be transparent, be willing and be reliable—in the same way we do at Dudley and our other facilities.

By committing to our values at every site and universally putting our customers first, our customers can trust that they will experience the same degree of partnership no matter where their project is located or transitions to. When working with any one of our sites, the customer becomes familiar and comfortable with Sterling’s unique way of working. As the project progresses and requires the support of another Sterling site, our customers can expect the same close working relationship and strong scientific collaboration.

Elevating customer success through continuity and collaboration

One of the most common challenges organisations face when outsourcing their project is a lack of continuity. A contract development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO) may offer expertise in one important area of a project but not in another, leading to complex technology transfers, extended project timelines, knowledge gaps and other challenges.

At Sterling, our integrated, global network enables us to eliminate these complexities. Our customers can capitalise on each site’s respective strengths and resources while maintaining critical continuity and transparency at every stage of their project. While I learned a lot during my time at North Carolina, the existing strength and connectivity of our global organisation was one of the things that stood out the most. The close alignment of our values, objectives and way of working made it easy to collaborate with the North Carolina team and share best practices.

If you’re interested in learning more about how our global facilities can support your project’s specific requirements, today and tomorrow, speak to an expert.

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